Welcome to Throwback Thursday here on the All Ball Blog. Each week, we’ll delve into the NBA’s photo archives and uncover a topic and some great images from way back when. Hit us up here if you have suggestions for a future TBT on All Ball. Suggestions are always welcome!
Today’s Topic: First round series to go seven games
The NBA Playoffs are a magical time in the basketball universe as every game matters and each player gives it their all.
To honor the playoffs, this Thursday we look back at the 14 first-round series to go the full seven games (the first round expanded from a best-of-five to a best-of-seven format in 2003). Hopefully this year’s playoffs provide similar dramatics.
(NOTE:Click the “caption” icon below the photo for details about each moment.)
Anybody in the whole free world with half an NBA eye knows the Pacers are struggling. Those with a whole eye see their superstar Paul George as being in the vanguard of the struggle, as illuminated by Sekou Smith here recently.
So what does Mr. George do to get folks off his back? He launches a 3 from the half-court logo in a one-point game with a little over three minutes to play, that’s what. It wasn’t a buzzer-beater either, although he may have thought it was…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Though he is just now in his second season in the NBA, Pistons big man Andre Drummond attended college for one season at the University of Connecticut. If he had stayed in college instead of joining the NBA, Drummond would just now be a junior. So many of his former teammates are still playing for the Huskies.
After playing at Philadelphia on Saturday, the Pistons had a day off on Sunday. Drummond swung by New York City to see his Huskies play in the Elite Eight against Michigan State.
And when UConn won and punched their ticket to the Final Four, Drummond couldn’t resist filming a selfie on the court …
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Rasheed Wallace is on my short list of favorite NBA people of all time. I loved his game, sure, but I particularly loved his personality and spirit. And while he mostly eschewed interviews and the media while he was playing, many fans missed out on learning that Sheed was one of the more intelligent players of his generation — there’s a reason the Pistons hired him as an assistant coach as soon as he retired.
In this video from Pistons.com, we see Sheed and another former Piston, Rick Mahorn, argue over which Pistons team was better — the ’89 Bad Boys with Mahorn (a team the Pistons are honoring tonight), or the 2004 title team with Sheed. This is great…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Things have been quiet of late around Horry Scale country. Too quiet, to be honest. In fact, things were quiet enough that I knew something had to be afoot. After a record-setting pace though the All-Star break, we hadn’t had a game winning buzzer beater since Dirk Nowitzki dispatched the Knicks back 31 days ago. And yet here are, back and at it once again, thanks to Dion Waiters and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who knocked off Detroit 97-96.
Before we get too far into this, we should stop and explain why we’re here: What is the Horry Scale? For those who are new around these parts, the Horry Scale examines a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time?), importance (playoff game or garden-variety Kings-Pistons game?) and celebration (is it over the top or too chill? Just the right panache or needs more sauce?). Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, the patron saint of last-second daggers.
One thing I’d like to clear up: The Horry Scale does not measure only a game-winning shot; the Horry Scale measures several facets of a Game-Winning Buzzer-Beater. So we’re talking about not only the shot, but also the play that creates the shot, the situation and the drama, the celebrations… basically, everything surrounding and including the shot. So when I gave Randy Foye a 3 Horry rating, that wasn’t only a reflection of his shot, which was admittedly remarkable, as I wrote, but also the play, which was awful. Taj Gibson’s lefty layup wasn’t the toughest shot, but that inbounds play was terrific. Basically, everything matters.
We all clear? OK, let’s break tonight’s shot down, our sixteenth Horry Scale entry of the season…
I know someone will get into the comments section and argue that this wasn’t all that tough of a shot. But to me it was a pretty difficult shot on two different levels. First, it was essentially a tightly contested jumper, with Rodney Stuckey directly in Waiters’ face. That’s a tough shot no matter how good a shooter you might be. Second, Waiters didn’t drive, so to free up room he did the dribble left/shoot right move, which as anyone who has played basketball can tell you, is much tougher than it looks.
This category is where this shot picks up steam. Heading into the fourth quarter, the Cavs were losing 82-66. They mounted a bit of a comeback but were still down 9 with 3:38 to play, when a Kyle Singler jumper gave Detroit a 96-87 lead. But Detroit would not score again. By the time Detroit got the ball with just under a minute to play, their lead was down to 1. They ran the clock down, missed a shot, got the ball back, and then missed another shot with 3.2 remaining. And that’s when we pick up action in the clip above. The play design wasn’t all that spectacular — Waiters pushed off a bit to get open and catch the pass, but he was able to make the play when it counted. Of course, Waiters knew it all along …
#Cavs' Dion Waiters: "My time was tonight. … I knew it was going in. That's my patented move."— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) March 27, 2014
CELEBRATION Considering this was a game between two teams with no chance of making the playoffs, you wouldn’t think there was much riding on it. But when you factor in the epic comeback by the Cavs, I guess you can understand the Cavs reacting like they just won a playoff game. To me the most telling reaction was the fan just behind the basket in the beige shirt, who has his arms raised to the heavens as the ball flies through the air, and then as it swishes through, puts his head into his hands and collapses into his seat.
I know it wasn’t a game of any consequence, and that certainly works against the importance of the play. But the reaction is so intense and genuine that I think we have to consider this. So, all factored together, I’m playing this down the middle and giving this Three Horrys out of five …
What say you? How many Horry’s would you give Dion Waiters’ GWBB?
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — A few months back we caught up with Detroit Pistons mascot Hooper as he had a very bad weekend. After first having a run-in with Andray Blatche and the Nets, Robin Lopez and the Blazers also had their way with Hooper.
But last night, Hooper seemed to draw some measure of revenge against Bulls center Joakim Noah. During pregame warmups, Hooper got on Joakim’s level and challenged him to a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. This footage is a bit inconclusive, but it appears as though Hooper goes paper while Noah goes rock. Classic move by Hooper.
This had no long-lasting effects on Noah, apparently, who went out and turned in his second triple-double in his last three games. After the game, leaving the floor, he must have felt as if he’d conquered the Pistons.
But one step Wednesday night in San Antonio might be as noteworthy as any he’s taken. Guarding Detroit’s Rodney Stuckey on a drive right before the half, he slipped. Trying to get up, he slipped again, before realizing that his left sneaker had become obsolete.
Who is more surprised: Manu or Nike? There are certain things that happen in life that, as grandma puts it, just don’t make no sense.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Just as important as any great dunk is the celebration that follows. And we aren’t only talking about the way the dunker himself lets the world know he threw down, but the way his teammates get into the act and celebrate. To that end, let’s take a look at a couple of recent bench celebrations and see which bench celebrated best.
1. Detroit Pistons A few days ago the Pistons hosted the Atlanta Hawks, and Pistons big man Andre Drummond got a steal and a dunk on Elton Brand. It wasn’t a dunk on as much as it was a dunk around as Brand tried to deliver a foul. Still, Brand went reeling, making it look worse than it probably was. Either way, as it was down the stretch in a close game, the Pistons bench turned in a celebration for the ages.
And how about that Pistons bench? Coaches and players alike went wild, although it’s always hard to top Pistons assistant coach Rasheed Wallace…
2. Golden State Warriors
Last night against the same Pistons team, Golden State’s Klay Thompson dunked on Kyle Singler. Singler’s legs got tangled or went numb or something, and following the dunk Singler did a stiff-legged stumble into the photographers along the baseline.
It’s a bit tougher to see the bench celebration on this one, but even without Kent Bazemore there to lead the way, the Warriors bench knows how to be explosive after a big play. Watch this GIF of the play and see how the bench shows out. (There’s also the great juxtoposition of the bench getting up as Singler goes down.)
So what say you? Which bench had the better reaction?
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — There are blocked shots, and then there are BLOCKED SHOTS. This from Greg Monroe last night against Cody Zeller is definitely a BLOCKED SHOT. I think Zeller should have let go of the ball a bit sooner. Looks 2014 just isn’t Zeller’s year so far.
All this play was missing was the finger wag after the block…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER –Today’s Clippers at Pistons game ended up with Los Angeles taking the win, 112-103. But what the score doesn’t show was how much of the game was played above the rim. Perhaps this is not a surprise, considering how many above-average dunkers were involved, from Blake Griffin to Josh Smith, from DeAndre Jordan to Andre Drummond, and on and on.
In all, there were 19 dunks in this game. When Lob City meets Motor City, here’s what happens…