Monday Mini-Bullets

Going to be in flight much of today, so posting will be light. But a few things:

  • Matt from Hardwood Paroxysm: "The Lakers got screwed in the first half. Royally screwed. Epic SCREW. It happens. A lot of the time, it happens to whatever team is facing the Lakers. Often in the playoffs. It happens to every single team. From the Lakers to the Spurs to the Hornets to the freaking Charlotte Bobcats. And when it's not you, the response is always, 'You have to overcome these things' or 'It wouldn't happen if X team were more aggressive.' So we can sit here and go over it, or we can get to the real reasons the Lakers lost. I will say that the Lakers definitely got hosed in the first half. But teams have faced worst officiating and won, so simply saying 'They shot fewer free throws' doesn't really give this game its due."

  • Matt from Basketbawful has been digging deep through the archives of Celtics lore, and has produced all kinds of interesting stuff. For instance, can you imagine what would happen if Paul Pierce did today what Larry Bird did in 1985? Basketbawful: "Bird started the playoffs on fire and was averaging 30 points (on 50+ percent shooting) and 10 rebounds up until Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. That's when Larry's production really began to fall off. He then averaged 16 PPG and 6.3 RPG for the rest of that series and only 23 PPG and 8 RPG in the Finals. So ... what happened? Larry was already struggling with existing back and elbow injuries when he showed up to Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals with a heavily bandaged right index finger (this, by the way, was the same finger that had been mangled in a college softball game before Larry's rookie season). The injury hadn't occurred in a game and nobody within the Celtics organization would comment on it. And while the press sort of left it alone until after the playoffs, it became a three-ring media circus over the summer (well, in Boston, anyway). The story ran in both the Boston Herald and the Boston Globe. And here are as many of the facts as may ever be known (since Larry himself has chosen to never publicly discuss it): On May 16, 1985 -- the off-day between Games 2 and 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals -- Larry, Quinn Buckner and Larry's friend Nick Harris went to a Boston bar named Chelsea's. At some point in the evening, Larry got into a fight with a man named Mike Harlow (who was a bartender from a nearby bar named Little Rascals and a former college football player) in an alley next to Chelsea's. During fight, Larry knocked Harlow the hell out and injured his right index finger."

  • Today many people are crucifying the 2-3-2 format, saying it favors this team or that team. Basketbawful also has some interesting insight into how it came to be. Justin Kubatko of Basketball-Reference.com recently looked into the format -- does it favor one team more than another set-up would? Does the home team, or the road team, have a history of dominating more than it should? Kubatko e-mailed that he found there was not much to it: "Since 1985, when the NBA Finals switched to the 2-3-2 format, the team with home court advantage (i.e., the team playing games 1-2-6-7 at home) has a home record of 44 wins and 19 losses (70%), while the team playing games 3-4-5 at home has a home record of 32 wins and 33 losses (49%). This appears to be a huge edge for the team with the home court advantage. However, when we consider the quality of the two teams, the expected winning percentage for the home team in games 1-2-6-7 is about 67%, and the expected winning percentage for the home team in games 3-4-5 is about 53%. The expected winning percentages are very close to the actual winning percentages."

  • I love this video of Phil Jackson talking about the Pau Gasol trade.

  • Why athletes go broke. (Via Freakonomics)