Tag:2011 Conference Finals
Posted on: May 22, 2011 7:09 pm
Edited on: May 22, 2011 7:10 pm

NBA rescinds Chandler technical after Harden flop

The NBA has rescinded a technical foul on Dallas Mavericks center Tyson Chandler after Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden flopped. Posted by Ben Golliver.

On Saturday night, Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden took a serious dive during Game 3 of the Western Conference finals, pretending to be elbowed in the face by Dallas Mavericks center Tyson Chandler. On Sunday, ESPNDallas.com reported that the NBA league office stepped in to rescind the technical foul whistled on Chandler during the altercation, ruling that the play was "incidental and not unsportsmanlike."

With Dallas leading 64-44 in the third quarter and the Thunder desperate to get back in the game, Harden drove hard to the hoop and made a running layup. As he turned to run back on defense, he initiated contact with Chandler, who had collected the ball and was moving towards the baseline to inbound it. Chandler raised his arms while moving forward and, as he did so, Harden simulated taking an elbow to the face, collapsing to the court and writhing in pain in embarrassing fashion.

On Sunday, Chandler had the following to say to ESPNDallas.com: "It was not a vicious elbow. I did not throw an elbow. I was trying to take the ball out of bounds. He tried to initiate contact and did a good job of flopping."
Here's video of the altercation and Harden's flop.

Chandler also had a technical foul rescinded after Game 1 of the Western Conference finals after he mixed it up with Thunder center Kendrick Perkins.
Posted on: May 22, 2011 6:56 pm

LiveChat: Heat-Bulls Conference Finals Game 3

Join us at 8:30 p.m. EST for Heat-Bulls Game 3 LiveChat. We'll discuss PEDs like Pez, and LeBron's "secret society." Chat at you then.

Posted on: May 22, 2011 5:45 pm
Edited on: May 22, 2011 7:08 pm

Thunder vet: Westbrook thinks he's better than KD

Posted by Royce Young

Did you think maybe we were finally done talking about Russell Westbrook? You'd be wrong.

Westbrook responded well to his so-called "benching" in Game 3, putting up 30 points for Oklahoma City that included eight straight points in the fourth quarter to get the Thunder back in the game. In the end, they lost to the Mavericks, but Westbrook bounced back strong.

Controvsery over? Hardly. Via the New York Daily News, one Thunder veteran says that Westbrook has an ego and that's what's interfered:
What undoubtedly fueled Westbrook's fiery response is a sense of entitlement. As one Thunder veteran said, privately, "He thinks he's better than Kevin Durant."

Not only that, but Westbrook has the backing of Thunder GM Sam Presti, who made a name for himself with his drafting of Westbrook with the fourth pick in 2008. Presti's micromanagement behind the scenes has caused some friction between the head of the front office and his coaches, but Brooks didn't pay any attention to that when he saw that Maynor was his best option to even the series.

Who is this mystery vet? Kevin Ollie? Desmond Mason? Robert Swift? Who knows. And who knows why he felt the need to pass along this information either.

But just that line alone -- Westbrook thinks he's better than Durant -- is going to stir the pot. But when you're an All-Star, a second-team All-NBA player that's as confident in yourself as Westbrook, would you really not think you're better than Durant. Not us in the general public here. We all know Durant is better. In terms of Westbrook, is it really so bad to think that? In fact, isn't it probably a good thing?

Everyone is biased about themselves. Other than maybe your mother, your biggest fan is normally you. Westbrook isn't any different. But that line reeks of ego and arrogance, therefore stirring the Westbrook vs. Durant pot a bit more.

And Westbrook has always played with a chip on his shoulder and an absurd amount of emotion. That's who he is and how he's always been. Westbrook probably thinks he's better than not just Durant, but Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and pretty much every player you toss out there. That's how great players think. They believe in themselves to the greatest degree. Kobe thinks he's better than Michael Jordan, even if we all know that it isn't true.

But here's a fun stat: Did you know entering Game 3 Saturday, Westbrook had assisted on 54 of Durant's field goals this postseason? Why is that number significant? Because it leads the NBA not just by a little, but doubles the next closest tandem (27 for Rajon Rondo to Paul Pierce and Jason Kidd to Dirk Nowitzki). It's not like Westbrook keeps the ball away from Durant here people. Durant has led the league in scoring the last two years and leads the playoffs this year with Westbrook as his point guard.

I'm reminded of the playoffs last year where the Thunder pushed the Lakers to six games. Multiple times in that series Westbrook had a wide open dunk of his own on a fast break but decided instead to drop off a pass to Durant trailing behind him. Westbrook put it simply when he was asked about why he did it. He said, "It's my job to get guys going and KD needed to get going." Doesn't sound like a guy too wrapped up in himself, does it?
Posted on: May 22, 2011 4:17 pm

Carlisle questions 'legal limits' of D on Dirk

Posted by Royce Young

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Look at the box score from Saturday's Thunder-Mavericks Game 3 in Oklahoma City. Notice anything funny? No, not that the Thunder shot just 1-17 from 3. No, not that Dirk Nowitzki had as many turnovers as made baskets (seven).

What's striking is that Dirk only took one -- count it, one -- free throw. And it came via a technical foul no less. This after he took 34 in the first two games, including a historic 24-24 from the stripe in Game 1.

There's no doubt that Nick Collison's defense on Dirk has been almost inspiring. Collison has earned a reputation in the postseason for being one of the best defensive big men stoppers in the game with the way he covered Zach Randolph and now how he's made life tough on Dirk. But one of the strategies Collison employs is being physical with Dirk, both on and off the ball.

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle was impressed with Collison's defense saying he's one of the "best post defenders in basketball," but added a caveat to it.

"Now, I don't know in terms of legal limits. I believe the line may have been crossed at times, and if so, I mean, the league will see that."

In other words, "He's fouling my guy! But I'm also trying to choose my words carefully as to not get a fine."

Dirk didn't really complain about it though.

"I obviously didn't get a lot of whistles going to the basket," Nowitzki said. "So I had to go with the one or two dribbles and up."

On the floor though, Dirk did his fair share though. After a hard drive to the basket where he obviously thought there was contact, Dirk turned to official Bob Delaney and informed him that the legal limits were indeed crossed on that particular play.

It's always kind of funny how things change with different officiating crews. In Game 1, Joey Crawford and his group saw almost everything as a foul. It was called fairly on both ends as both teams got the benefit of a touchy whistle. Game 2, a bit more was allowed. Game 3, Dirk got roughed up a bit. Collison for the most part played within the legal limits I'd say, doing a good job of using his body and not his hands to defend Dirk. Twice Collison anticipated Dirk putting the ball on the floor and forced a jump ball. No foul, no line-crossing there. Just great defense.

At the same time, you typically see stars such as Dirk get calls in most of those situations though. I think it's a credit to Game 3's crew for not feeling an obligation to just reward Dirk because he's Dirk.

The fact Dirk went just 7-21 from the floor and turned it over seven times has a lot less to do with the officiating and lot more to do with Collison. But within that, Collison was enabled by being allowed to push some boundaries. Carlisle may be right. The Thunder's approach may have crossed a line. But it's pretty simple: If they don't call it, then it wasn't a foul.
Posted on: May 22, 2011 2:58 am

Playoff Fix: It's Rose's turn

Derrick Rose needs to turn the Eastern Conference Finals around for the Bulls and step up as an MVP. 

Posted by Matt Moore

One Big Thing: Derrick Rose has to kill it. Rose has been unable to be his MVP self in this series thanks to stellar defense from Miami. But Rose is going to have to find ways to press the issue and get the first step to the rim. Rose has been trying to let the rest of the offense steps up as the Heat defense swarms him, but the Bulls can't hit the broad side of a barn right now. Rose has to come out early and be aggressive. If that means the pull-up jumper when Chalmers goes under the screen, so be it. If that means knocking down perimeter shots, which isn't really Rose's strength at this point, that's what he's got to do. The Chicago offense can't open up opportunities for Rose. Rose is going to have to open them up for others. If Rose starts off aggressive, the Heat defense will have to overreact to try and prevent a huge game from the MVP, which will create shots for Kyle Korver and Luol Deng, among others. 

The X-Factor: Mario Chalmers is probably due for a decent game. Don't get confused, Chalmers is radically outmatched in this series, regardless of who he's defending or who's defending him. But due to the attention the Big 3 receives, Chalmers is going to have opportunities. Chalmers has also done well surprising opposing offenses with his ball pressure, forcing turnovers. Knocking down open shots and creating easy buckets off of turnovers is the most you can expect from Chalmers, and if any time is great for him to do so, a key Game 3 with the Bulls looking to make adjustments after a disappointing Game 2, desperate for a win is a great chance. Chalmers has more athleticism than Bibby, but surprisingly Bibby has played decent defense on Derrick Rose while Chalmers has been an outright disaster. But surely Rio has one good game in this series. Game 3 could make it an impactful one. 

The Adjustment: Tom Thibodeau has opted, to no one's surprise, to stick with defensive lineups in this series. The idea is to create a cold war, a long, hard conflict of inches between two stellar defenses with the Bulls winning out as its what they do best. But the Heat offense is superior to the Bulls on most nights, so as the Heat corner the options originally presented by Chicago, Thibodeau has to go to more offensive weapons. Whether that means more Carlos Boozer or more Kyle Korver remains to be seen. It almost certainly won't be both, but one of the two needs to give Chicago a better run of efficiency. The Bulls can win with defense. They just have to have enough offense to give that defense the chance to win it for them.

The Sticking Point: The Bulls blew out the Heat in Game 1, the Heat flew by the Bulls in the closing minutes of Game 2. Things are unlikely to open up and an already ugly series is likely to only get uglier. Don't be surprised if things get chippy. This series is begging for a fight with Haslem and Taj Gibson both emotional difference makers for their teams. Joakim Noah is a constant agitator and LeBron James keeps flirting with conflict. The Bulls are desperate. The Heat are indignant. An already bloody series is going to add some bruises in Game 3.
Posted on: May 22, 2011 1:58 am
Edited on: May 22, 2011 2:19 am

NBA Playoffs Thunder-Mavericks: Matrix Reloaded

Shawn Marion was the difference for Dallas in Game 3 in Oklahoma City. 

Posted by Matt Moore

A surprising number of people entering the Western Conference Finals completely overlooked Shawn Marion. Despite Marion being a seasoned veteran who has still contributed at both ends for the Mavericks this season, he was written off as being a non-factor, despite being in great condition at 33 years old. When the topic of Kevin Durant was discussed, the assessment was that Maron was an afterthought to be sacrificed to the Durantula God. 

Instead, in Game 3 amongst the rabid throng in Oklahoma City, it was Marion who made the biggest difference on both ends of the floor. Marion shadowed Durant aggressively off-ball, limiting his ability to find open opportunities. While Durant did his damage on drives, mostly at the free throw line, Durant was just 7-22 from the field, thanks largely to Marion who kept up with Durant on his cuts and didn't lose him as often. The result was fewer minutes for Peja Stojakovic and DeShawn Stevenson, which meant less offense. Or, at least that's normally what it means. But Marion justified Carlisle's decision by also showing up on the offensive end.

Marion was 9-13 from the field for 18 shots, and added 4 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks. His offense wasn't just dump-off passes from Kidd or cutters from a double off Dirk, either. Marion flashed the kind of offensive production he showed so consistently and brilliantly in Phoenix during the Seven Seconds or Less era in Phoenix. Marion hit a floater in the lane to punish the Thunder's adjustment to aggressively defend the perimeter. Marion's work was all done on the inside. In Game 2, the Thunder lived with the Mavericks working the pick-and-roll with Tyson Chandler due to their ability to guard size with size. But Marion worked much more effectively, getting dunks with his remaining explosiveness.

The first two games of this series were defined entirely by offense. Game 3 was decided when the Mavericks decided to commit to defense. For the first time in the series, a team was held to a below-100 offensive efficiency as OKC struggled from the field. Offense drove the Mavericks to outshoot the Lakers. After the first two games in the Western Conference Finals, Rick Carlisle has made the first significant adjustment, refocusing his rotations to defense. Marion rewarded that strategy by not only making the difference on the Thunder's best weapon, but by adding offense. The result? Dallas regains homecourt advantage and quiets that rabid crowd. 

Posted on: May 22, 2011 1:27 am
Edited on: May 22, 2011 1:47 am

Thunder go Bricktown in Game 3 loss to Mavericks

The Oklahoma City Thunder lost Game 3 to the Dallas Mavericks and now trail in the Western Conference finals 2-1. Posted by Ben Golliver.

Downtown Oklahoma City is known as "Bricktown," but this isn't what they meant.

On Saturday night, the Thunder dropped Game 3 at home to the Dallas Mavericks, 93-87, thanks in part to some historically horrific outside shooting. 

As a team, OKC shot just 1-for-17 from deep... good for a paltry 6%. The Thunder set a new season-low for three-point percentage, eclipsing their previous mark of 9% (2-22) in a Jan. 17 loss to the Lakers. They also tied a season-low for made three-pointers, as they shot 1-7 from deep against the San Antonio Spurs in a Jan. 1 loss. 

A search of Basketball-Reference.com reveals only one worse shooting performance in which the Thunder franchise made at least one attempt in the last 25 years: A 1-18 night in a loss to the Atlanta Hawks in 2003.

To help visualize how bad things got, here's a chart with OKC's three-point shooting percentage by game during the 2010-2011 campaign. Game 3 is on the far right, in a chasm all by itself.


The main culprit was All-Star forward Kevin Durant, who shot 0-8 from deep, a number only trumped this season by an 0-10 outing in a Nov. 3, 2010, loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Defended for much of the night by Mavericks forward Shawn Marion, Durant looked dejected, frustrated and rushed at various points, and he was clearly pressing in his attempt to pull the Thunder back into the game after they dug themselves a 23-point first half deficit. 

Game 3, obviously, was the Thunder's biggest game of the season, a chance to go up 2-1, to maintain homecourt advantage and to provide the first true mental test that the Mavericks have faced so far in the postseason. That they were betrayed by their three-point shooting is surprising, but not overwhelmingly so. On the season, the Thunder were 19th in the league at 34.7% from deep and that number had dropped to 33.8% in the playoffs prior to Saturday night. Durant has seen a similar drop in his outside shooting: from 35% in the regular season to 33% in the playoffs.

On Saturday, the Thunder missed from deep in every conceivable way. In addition to Durant forcing the issue, Russell Westbrook got a little too giddy late in the game, badly overshooting an attempt that would have brought the Thunder back within three points with just less than three minutes to go in the fourth quarter. That was immediately followed by a Daequan Cook three that nearly airballed. 

No doubt some of the Thunder's struggles can be attributed to jitters on the big stage. The Mavericks also deserve some credit. After allowing the Thunder to score 100+ in both Games 1 and 2, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle spent all of Friday and Saturday morning talking about the need for Dallas' defense to show up big. On Saturday night, he got exactly what he was looking for. 

"We played championship level defense for the first time in the series," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "Now the challenge is to sustain it."

It's very unlikely that the Mavericks can sustain the 1-17 three-point shooting result by the Thunder, but maintaining that level of intensity is definitely possible. In shutting down the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Lakers earlier in the playoffs, Dallas' defensive rotations were steady and its communication on that side of the ball was excellent. As a result, the Mavericks forced their opponents to shoot a lot of contested, deep shots and created turnovers at a solid clip.

The Mavericks got back to that formula in Game 3. Their rewards: regaining homecourt advantage and sending the Thunder to do some serious soul-searching.
Posted on: May 21, 2011 8:10 pm

LiveChat: Thunder-Mavericks Game 3

We're chatting for Thunder-Mavericks Game 3. Topics include: 

  • What high-velocity device did Brendan Haywood throw Peja under the bus with?
  • Russell Westbrook: Devil incarnate or super-saint?
  • What random role player will step up and play way over their ceiling tonight?
Chat starts at 9 p.m. EST.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com