NBA PM: Pierce Takes the Blame
Rather than criticize the referees, Celtics forward Paul Pierce took the blame, to some extent, Monday for being ejected for two technical fouls in Sunday’s loss to the HEAT.
"The referees called what they saw," he told reporters. "I got to do a better job keeping my composure. That’s it."
Pierce’s first technical came when he inadvertently bumped heads with Miami’s James Jones during a verbal altercation that followed a hard foul. One minute later Pierce got into a spat with Dwyane Wade, which prompted referee Ed Malloy to send him to the showers.
"End of story, truthfully," he continued. "Basically it was me not keeping my composure, so what they say. I don’t think nobody out here has ever seen me lose my composure, what I consider losing my composure. But, within the rules of the game, I’ve got to do a better job."
Pierce took exception to the belief that the ejection would fuel his motivation for Tuesday’s Game 2.
"I don’t need no motivation," he said. "I don’t need that to fire me up for this. I’m going to come out every game the same, regardless. I’m going to be ready to play simply for the fact we lost. We’re trying to get back. Even if we had won, I approach each and every game the same. I have a common goal just like the rest of my teammates do and that’s to win a championship. And I’m trying to do whatever I can to make that happen. That’s the only incentive I need."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers didn’t criticize the referees directly, but seemed to question why someone could get ejected without throwing a punch.
"You’ve got two grown men arguing, whatever," he told reporters. "I don’t think words should ever be a technical ever because, sticks and stones.
"I don’t think it is very physical anymore in our league," he continued. "I think both teams will compete extremely hard and I think at times we may accidentally run into each other, but I don’t think it’s ever going to get out of hand or anything like that. I think Miami wants to show us they’re physical and that’s cool with us, and we just want to play the way we play and I honestly don’t know if that’s physical or not. That’s for everybody else to say. But at the end of the day, they’re going to play their style, we’re going to play our style, and somebody’s style is going to win, and that will be determined at the end of the day."
But before Miami fans rush to construe Rivers’ words as an excuse for Sunday’s loss, the Celtics coach concluded by putting the blame back on his players.
"We put ourselves in that situation, to me," he concluded. "I don’t think that was the officials. Obviously I didn’t think Paul should have been thrown out of the game, but that wasn’t the officials to me. We put ourselves in that position."
Readers, we want to know what you think. Should Pierce have been thrown out, and should the league resist the urge to eject star players for fear of hurting the product? Please leave a comment below and defend your answer.
Kings Still Looking for a Castle
After the Maloof family’s official statement pledging to keep the Kings in Sacramento for another year in an attempt to get a new arena in or near California’s capital, NBA commissioner David Stern hosted a conference call with the media on Monday afternoon.
"They will not be filing for relocation to Anaheim and they will be joining Mayor [Kevin] Johnson and the staff in Sacramento in a vigorous effort to increase their sponsorship base, increases their tickets and fully involve the entire Sacramento area, again, for a new building," Stern said.
Stern went on to say that the relocation committee would be supportive of a move if an agreement can’t be reached by next year, but sounded as though he wants to give Sacramento an honest crack at keeping the Kings.
"By tomorrow we will have nine people on the ground from the NBA office… so that we can assist the Maloofs, who have asked us for all the support possible," Stern said.
He later added that expects the Maloofs to negotiate, "in good faith."
The commissioner also said that the decision to give Sacramento another chance was not the league’s, but the Maloofs.
"There was no arm twisting," Stern said. "I would expect, given the number of failed arena opportunities that exist here or that have occurred, I think it would be fair for many of the people on this call to be skeptical."
"It will be the last [chance] as far as we’re concerned," he added.
The Kings’ future in Sacramento now relies on Mayor Johnson’s ability to drum up financing for a stadium, but he’s already secured $10 million in sponsorship commitments for next season.
Stern was extremely impressed with the former Suns guard’s ability to negotiate.
“Actually, I suggested to him, now that he’s done that, maybe he can come and negotiate the collective bargaining agreement with us because I was extraordinarily impressed with his ability to do that in such a short time,” Stern said. “He did it with a passion that is very impressive to us.”
"I can’t say enough about the mayor," he added.
Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus made a very interesting connection in an ESPNInsider piece: The Spurs and Magic—two teams that relied on the 3-pointer during the regular season—were betrayed by the long ball in the postseason. Both teams ranked among the top 10 in 3-point accuracy during the regular season, but failed to hit 30% of their respective attempts from beyond the arc in their first-round losses.
Thanks to an inspired defensive effort by Jason Collins and Zaza Pachulia, wrote Pelton, the Hawks didn’t have to double-team Magic center Dwight Howard, which stopped their usual steady diet of kick-out 3-point attempts. Instead, Orlando was forced to shoot from range using the pick-and-roll, which they obviously had less success with.
However Pelton isn’t making the point that a reliance on 3-point shooting is necessarily a bad thing. He points out that the Magic’s offense was built on the 3-pointer when they beat the Celtics and Cavaliers en route to the 2009 NBA Finals. Instead, Pelton believes the 3-pointer is an integral part of any successful offense, and a team’s ability to defend the 3-pointer is of equal importance. As Peltron mentioned, of the top 10 teams in the NBA in regards to 3-point defense during the regular season, on one, the Milwaukee Bucks, failed to make the playoffs. He didn’t mention that only five of the top- most accurate 3-point shooting teams during the regular season made the playoffs.
Not every successful team has to be perfect on the perimeter, though. Miami allowed Philadelphia to hit 39% of its attempts from beyond the arc in the first round. But despite making only 28.8% of their own 3-point attempts, the HEAT still beat the 76ers in five games.
But here’s where the old adage, "It’s not how many you take, it’s how many you make," comes into play. Philadelphia was accurate from 3-point range, but made only 6.4 treys per game during the first round, while Miami’s paltry shooting percentage didn’t stop them from making 5.6 per game. The HEAT may have been off the mark, but they still managed to make a mark on the perimeter.
Maybe the lesson is that it’s important to be accurate and limit your opponents’ accuracy, but overall, volume counts for more than percentages.
NBA to Heighten Security
America is celebrating the death of Osama Bin Laden, but like most events in the War on Terror, this will be greeted with strengthened security measures in many public settings.
One of the first places Americans will see this is at NBA arenas, writes ESPNChicago.com.
"… the Chicago Bulls will use metal detectors to screen all patrons entering the United Center before Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifina against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday."
From this point forward, the NBA has mandated that all playoff games this season will use metal detectors.
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