If you forced me to choose between watching a National Basketball Association playoff game or a National Hockey League playoff game today as opposed to 25 years ago, I would have a very different answer for you. The Indiana Pacers-Miami Heat game Tuesday night is exactly why I would choose the hockey over the basketball.
First of all, give credit to the Pacers for bouncing back from an embarrassing loss at home in game three to get the win. Even at two games apiece now, the series is essentially a best of three. The problem with NBA basketball is what has haunted it now since the Michael Jordan era started in the mid- 1980’s.
NBA games are 48 minutes long yet there were 55 fouls called in the game. If I wanted to watch a free throw shooting contest, I’d go out in the driveway and challenge my kids to a best of ten from the stripe.
Many fans were crying ‘foul’ themselves after the Heat seemed to get unfair treatment which resulted in LeBron James getting just his second career playoff game with six fouls. His last call, a ‘moving screen’ in which he stuck his foot out was a horrible call. Not because it wasn’t a foul, but because the officials and the league itself no longer recognizes what a foul or violation really is anymore.
Players routinely take more than two steps on shot attempts and especially on drives to the basket but traveling never gets called. Referees still have no clue what the difference is between a charge and a block is and furthermore have no idea what a legal screen actually looks like.
James himself has been called out recently for his ‘acting prowess’ or flopping which has become one of the key stories of the Eastern Conference playoffs let alone the league in general. It appears that NBA players have spent way too much time watching soccer because the flopping that is taking place on the NBA hardwood is almost laughable.
Hockey is not without its’ issues. Officiating is often just as questionable and players have been known to act a little in order to get a call, but it is nowhere near the level of ridiculousness that the NBA is currently.
- Bosh has to do a better job on the boards in game five.
When you consider the drama and intensity of the NHL playoffs, there is no dilemma for me in choosing to watch hockey. This was something I never thought I would say back in the days of Magic and Bird.
Indiana at Miami (series tied 2-2) – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this series is ultimately about Roy Hibbert and Dwyane Wade. Hibbert was dominant in his game four performance as were the Pacers overall in attacking the basket in the paint.
Wade was noticeably limping during portions of the game on Tuesday night which calls into question just how healthy he really is. His status then leads to questions about Chris Bosh and LeBron James. Bosh must play better and get more physical on the boards while the offense will probably need to run through James with the Heat’s struggles from outside.
It’s a little surprising to see the spread for tonight’s game at seven and a half in favor of the Heat, but I think it speaks volumes of what Vegas thinks of the bounce-back ability of the Heat following losses. Remember this about game fives, 85% of the time the team that wins goes on to win the series. While that isn’t a lock, it’s pretty darn close when you consider the long history of seven game series. I like the Heat to win, but Indiana will make it close so take the Pacers.