The 2012-13 NBA Playoffs Or: Here We Go Again...

 


I debated whether I wanted to do this, but then I realized that following the number of free throws (and by extension, fouls) in NBA games, some glaring differences come to light (though I'm not tracking the gambling end - the line and over/under - this time around. I do have a life.). You know, like how the Heat won 27 games in a row.

We saw two years ago how the NBA pushed LeBron and Co. into the Finals where they were abandoned by the referees to allow the Mavericks to win it all. And last season, a couple of games (specifically Game 3 between the Lakers & Thunder) were clearly influences by the officials' whistles. So what'll happen this season? Stay tuned. 

And while you do, make sure to watch the videos I'll embed throughout the playoffs. They're just as revealing.

WESTERN CONFERENCE - FIRST ROUND

Rockets vs. Thunder

Game 1: HOU 91 (17 of 24) - OKC 120 (22 of 28)

Game 2: HOU 102 (20 of 25) - OKC 105 (20 of 24)

Game 3: OKC 103 (28 of 30) - HOU 101 (17 of  25)

Game 4: OKC 103 (22 of 25) - HOU 105 (19 of 24)

Game 5: HOU 107 (25 of 37) - OKC 100 (20 of 28)

Game 6: OKC 103 (16 of 16) - HOU 94 (20 of 31)

Thunder win 4-2. Totals: OKC (128 of 151) - HOU (118 of 166)

Grizzlies vs. Clippers

Game 1: MEM 91 (20 of 25) - LAC 112 (23 of 31)

Game 2: MEM 91 (23 of 34) - LAC 93 (17 of 22)

Game 3: LAC 82 (21 of 23) - MEM 94 (28 of  38)

Game 4: LAC 83 (15 of 17) - MEM 104 (22 of 29)

Game 5: MEM 103 (26 of 33) - LAC 93 (19 of 25)

Game 6: LAC 105 (16 of 24) - MEM 118 (38 of 47)

Grizzlies win 4-2. Totals: MEM (157 of 206) - LAC (111 of 142)

Warriors vs. Nuggets

Game 1: GS 95 (11 for 15) - DEN 97 (18 for 28)

Game 2: GS 131 (15 of 20) - DEN 117 (28 of 37)

Game 3: DEN 108 (21 of 27) - GS 110 (18 of 23)

Game 4: DEN 101 (29 of 38) - GS 115 (16 of 23)

Game 5: GS 100 (19 of 25) - DEN 107 (21 of 27)

Game 6: DEN 88 (13 of 21) - GS 92 (23 of 24)

Warriors win 4-2. Totals: GS (102 of 130) - DEN (130 of 178)

Lakers vs. Spurs

Game 1: LAL 79 (16 of 24) - SAS 91 (20 of 25)

Game 2: LAL 91 (8 of 22) - SAS 102 (11 of 14)

Game 3: SAS 120 (11 of 15) - LAL 89 (15 of 25)

Game 4: SAS 103 (20 of 23) - LAL 82 (5 of 12)

Spurs win 4-0. Totals: Spurs (62 of 77) - Lakers (44 of 83)

EASTERN CONFERENCE  - FIRST ROUND

Bucks vs. Heat

Game 1: MIL 87 (12 of 20) - MIA 110 (27 of 33)

Game 2: MIL 86 (10 of 17) - MIA 98 (22 of 26)

Game 3: MIA 104 (14 of 25) - MIL 91 (18 of 29)

Game 4: MIA 88 (13 of 19) - MIL 77 (11 of 15)

Heat win 4-0. Totals: Heat (76 of 103) - Bucks (51 of 81)

Bulls vs. Nets

Game 1: CHI 89 (15 of 22) - BKN 106 (14 of 17)

Game 2: CHI 90 (13 of 23) - BKN 82 (20 of 23)

Game 3: BKN 76 (15 of 17) - CHI 79 (14 of 21)

Game 4: BKN 134 (29 of 45) - CHI 142 (20 of 29) 3OT

Game 5: CHI 91 (13 of 18) - BKN 110 (20 of 23)

Game 6: BKN 95 (22 of 33) - CHI 92 (13 of 18)

Game 7: CHI 99 (12 of 13) - BKN 93 (15 of 20)

Bulls win 4-3. Totals: CHI (100 of 144) - BKN (135 of 178)

Hawks vs. Pacers

Game 1: ATL 90 (7 of 14) - IND 107 (30 of 34)

Game 2: ATL 98 (11 of 20) - IND 113 (21 of 29)

Game 3: IND 69 (21 of 28) - ATL 90 (16 of 28)

Game 4: IND 91 (20 of 25) - ATL 102 (25 of 38)

Game 5: ATL 83 (30 of 37) - IND 106 (29 of 35)

Game 6: IND 81 (14 of 21) - ATL 73 (18 of 20)

Pacers win 4-2. Totals: IND (135 of 172) - ATL (107 of 157)

Celtics vs. Knicks

Game 1: BOS 78 (19 of 19) - NYK 85 (12 of 15)

Game 2: BOS 71 (14 of 18) - NYK 87 (16 of 22)

Game 3: NYK 90 (3 of 8) - BOS 76 (14 of 18)

Game 4: NYK 90 (21 of 28) - BOS 97 (21 of 24)

Game 5: BOS 92 (17 of 17) - NYK 86 (17 of 20)

Game 6: NYK 88 (13 of 16) - BOS 80 (26 of 33)

Knicks win 4-2. Totals: NYK (82 of 109) - BOS (111 of 129)

NOTES on the First Round: The first round (and the playoffs in general) may be all about injuries. There's no Kobe or Derrick Rose, Steve Nash went down, and Russell Westbrook is out for the playoffs. This keeps up, and there won't be much to hype. 

Despite two series that were 4-0 sweeps (and there was no reason for the MIA-MIL series not to be a sweep), the other six series went at least six games with one 7-gamer: BKN v. CHI. Well played, NBA, well played.

The Pacers only managed to shoot 27% from the floor in Game 3 (giving the Hawks hope for a while), and the refs apparently tried to help the Celtics stick around a while longer as they gave the Knicks fewer opportunities from the line throughout the series with the low-light being the Knicks having just 8 chances from the charity stripe in Game 3.

The biggest benefactor of them all, however, was the Grizzlies who had over 200 free throw attempts (34.3 per game average) in their six games versus the Clippers (amassing more free throws made than the Bulls had attempted in their 7-game series win over the Nets), including 47 in the deciding Game 6 - one attempt short of doubling the Clippers chances. Apparently if the Lakers can't represent Los Angeles in the playoffs, no one can.


WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMI-FINALS

Grizzlies vs. Thunder

Game 1: MEM 91 (14 of 24) - OKC 93 (22 of 25)

Game 2: MEM 99 (23 of 32) - OKC 93 (24 of 27)

Game 3: OKC 81 (12 of 19) - MEM 87 (23 of 28)

Game 4: OKC 97 (20 of 22) - MEM 103 (25 of 29) OT

Game 5: MEM 88 (25 of 29) - OKC 84 (16 of 21)

Grizzlies win 4-1. Totals: MEM (110 of 142) - OKC (94 of 114)

Warriors vs. Spurs

Game 1: GS 127 (14 of 24) - SAS 129 (24 of 28) 2OT

Game 2: GS 100 (13 of 20) - SAS 91 (16 of 24)

Game 3: SAS 102 (16 of 23) - GS 92 (16 of 20)

Game 4: SAS 87 (14 of 25) - GS 97 (20 of 25) OT

Game 5: GS 91 (15 of 23) - SAS 109 (19 of 25)

Game 6: SAS 94 (21 of 25) - GS 82 (12 of 19)

Spurs win 4-2. Totals: SAS (110 of 150) - GS (89 of 131)

EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMI-FINALS

Bulls vs. Heat

Game 1: CHI 93 (24 of 29) - MIA 86 (17 of 25)

Game 2: CHI 78 (15 of 21) - MIA 115 (22 of 29)

Game 3: MIA 104 (26 of 30) - CHI 94 (17 of 25)

Game 4: MIA 88 (16 of 25) - CHI 65 (25 of 32)

Game 5: CHI 91 (17 of 24) - MIA 94 (24 of 33)

Heat win 4-1. Totals: MIA (105 of 142) - CHI (98 of 131)

Pacers vs. Knicks

(Where's Reggie Miller and Spike Lee?)

Game 1: IND 102 (20 of 26) - NYK 95 (18 of 23)

Game 2: IND 79 (11 of 18) - NYK 105 (7 of 10)

Game 3: NYK 71 (18 of 25) - IND 82 (16 of 23)

Game 4: NYK 82 (12 of 14) - IND 93 (23 of 30)

Game 5: IND 75 (19 of 33) - NYK 85 (14 of 17)

Game 6: NYK 99 (18 of 18) - IND 106 (34 of 46)

Pacers win 4-2. Totals: IND (123 of 176) - NYK (87 of 107)

NOTES on the Semi-Finals: The Bulls won a game? Seriously? The Bulls who can barely put 5 players on the court? Didn't matter, the Heat put them any as it was. Of course, the Thunder vanished without the injured Westbrook, but it makes one wonder: why would the NBA choose the Grizzlies? (And by choose, I mean constantly send them to the line). Good question.  A quick glance at the background of the team's new lead owner Robert Pera makes you wonder if he's a good basketball man, or simply a dirty businessman (with alleged connections to both Chinese mafia and Iran) who knows how business is really done in the NBA.

And what gives (gave?) in the Pacers-Knicks series? Either the Knicks are the dirtiest team in the NBA (while at the same time, being completely unable to draw a foul), or the refs had it in for them. The Pacers had 69 more attempts from the charity stripe than the Knicks, and walked away with 36 more points there as well. Only the Grizzlies-Clippers series in Round 1 had such a disparity, which needless to say, favored the Griz by 64 attempts and 46 points. The Knicks, by the way, only averaged 18 free throw attempts in their two 6-game series. The Grizzlies, by comparison, averaged nearly 32.


WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

Grizzlies vs. Spurs

Game 1: MEM 83 (14 of 20) - SAS 105 (11 of 14)

Game 2: MEM 89 (18 of 26) - SAS 93 (12 of 17)

Game 3: SAS 104 (16 of 22) - MEM 93 (10 of 18) 

Game 4: SAS 93 (12 of 13) - MEM 86 (17 of 24)

Spurs win 4-0. Totals: SAS (51 of 66) - MEM (59 of 88)

EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

Pacers vs. Heat

Game 1: IND 102 (24 of 32) - MIA 103 (16 of 25) OT

Game 2: IND 97 (26 of 32) - MIA 93 (18 of 26)

Game 3: MIA 114 (24 of 28) - IND 96 (30 of 44)

Game 4: MIA 92 (24 of 27) - IND 99 (26 of 33)

Game 5: IND 79 (12 of 15) - MIA 90 (7 of 12)

Game 6: MIA 77 (15 of 19) - IND 91 (11 of 18)

Game 7: IND 76 (14 of 20) - MIA 99 (33 of 38)

Heat win 4-3. Totals: MIA (137 of 175) - IND (143 of 194)

NOTES on the Conf. Finals: Game 1 of the IND-MIA series was interesting. The big question on everyone's mind seemed to be why did Pacers coach Frank Vogel pulled 7'2" center Roy Hibbert not once, but twice in OT only to see LeBron James basically walk in and score a lay-up each time, including the game winning basket? Then, in Game 4, LeBron fouled out - causing more than a few to question what was going on with the officiating in this series. But in the end, as many expected, the NBA wasn't about to settle for a Pacers-Spurs Finals, and the deciding Game 7 was a laugher...except to boxer Floyd Mayweather who bet nearly $6 million on the Heat in Game 7. To him, it was a major financial windfall.



Nice double flop, huh? But get this - Stern actually fined LeBron and 2 Pacers for it.

Looks like that free throw advantage the Grizzlies were enjoying came to an instant halt. They were averaging 32 attempts per game prior to meeting the Spurs; then it abruptly dropped to just 22 per game...and they were swept 4-0. This also led one writer to question what happened to the Grizzlies Zach Randolph? Did the old pro choke it away, or did he play the game the "NBA way?"

THE FINALS

Spurs vs. Heat

Game 1: SAS 92 (15 of 18) - MIA 88 (12 of 17)

Game 2: SAS 84 (10 of 14) - MIA 103 (11 of 14)

Game 3: MIA 77 (7 of 10) - SAS 113 (11 of 19)

Game 4: MIA 109 (15 of 17) - SAS 93 (23 of 31)

Game 5: SAS 114 (21 of 26) - MIA 104 (19 of 23)

Game 6: SAS 100 (21 of 28) - MIA 103 (16 of 21) OT

Game 7: SAS 88 (20 of 22) - MIA 95 (11 of 16)

Heat win 4-3. Totals: MIA (91 of 118) - SAS (121 of 158)

Notes: A lot of people - a lot of mainstream people - were openly talking how the NBA "wouldn't allow" the Heat to lose Game 2. To back that notion, the league assigned controversial referee Joey Crawford to handle Game 2 - a move that made headlines on SportsIllustrated.com. It didn't matter as the Heat dominated the game, but knowing he was there as back-up I'm sure made David Stern sleep better that night.

I'm curious to know what the officials in these games are doing because they certainly aren't calling fouls or sending anyone to the free throw line. I'm no LeBron James fan, but you mean to tell me in the 21 shots he attempted in Game 3, he wasn't fouled once in the act of shooting? He had zero attempts from the charity stripe in Game 3, and only two attempts in Game 2 along with four in Game 1. By comparison, Tim Duncan has had only 12 attempts during this time as well.

In the end, the free throw advantage ended up in the Spurs favor, though LeBron did get 20 attempts from the line in the final two games (more than half of the Heat's total attempts).

  So was it rigged for the Heat to win it all? To many, them winning was a forgone conclusion prior to the playoffs beginning (I had them in the Finals on this webpage prior to the playoffs), so this victory should come as no surprise to anyone. A Game 7 was merely the NBA's icing on the cake as the incredibly high ratings indicated.

Nike did have a photo of a LeBron James "Two Time Champion" shoe
"leak" to the media prior to Game 6 (when the Spurs were up 3-2). To many, this was a sign of fixing to come - and no doubt, the Heat did rally to win the title. It's strange that recently, certain "slip ups" like this shoe photo or the NY Giants' webpage posting their Super Bowl victory prior to the game being played have come to light, and yet not one has been incorrect.

Then again, we all know that every league pre-prints T-shirts and hats with each team as victors even as they are battling for a title. The incorrect shirts often end up as donations in impoverished countries. So was this Nike shoe a test print? We'll see how fast it hits store shelves (if at all) to know for sure.

The Spurs have a lot to answer for: their meltdown in Game 6 especially. Manu Ginoboli played horribly this entire Finals, especially the final two games; Tim Duncan was benched down the stretch in Game 6 when the title seemed easily within reach; "genius" coach Greg Popovich mismanaged the end of Game 6, including illegally substituting Duncan in the final seconds of regulation; and Tony Parker - who appeared to be the only member of the Spurs trying to pull out a win in Game 6 - completely disappeared in Game 7.

Yet Spurs guard, and former LeBron teammate, Danny Green was seen partying with the victorious Heat after the championship was decided.

Maybe the Spurs just choked. Maybe the Heat were the better team. Or maybe something else transpired. But the main thing to remember is, this is Commissioner David Stern's last NBA Finals. It'll be interesting to see what his replacement brings to the table next year.