OAKLAND, California – The worst possible scenario for the NBA, its fans and the very sport of basketball is that the series between Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets ends up being defined by a war of dimes and diretes with regard to arbitration.
This has been a rematch that has been expected for a year and perhaps it is the series that determines which will be the champion of this season, just as it was in the last tournament.
The history and the legacy are to be defined. It’s that kind of series. We also have the short-term implications, specifically in regards to free agency.
However, the arbitration angle could be inevitable.
The Rockets have a strategy that tests the limits of the rules and the Rockets are as crafty as any team in history. Both are fantastic in what they do. And both are tireless when it comes to putting the referees to work: there were four technical fouls and an ejection just at the start of Game 1.
Nobody wanted Game 1 (an ugly, although highly competitive and entertaining opening game that ended in 104-100 victory for the Warriors) to be defined by sanctions or the absence of them. However, that was the case. Maybe there is no end to this situation in sight,
It’s easy to forget that there are three teams on the court at all times. The ideal case is that one of them remains anonymous and forgettable. What is at stake and the nature of these teams makes it very difficult.
When the referees prepare for the matches, they review videos and trends, same case of the teams. It is well known that the Rockets like to attract fouls in triple situations. This is part of your attack. James Harden was subjected to 95 fouls in triples this season. It is one of the best in these situations in the history of this sport.
It was clear that part of Golden State’s game plan was to smother Golden State’s triple goal scorers. And the Rockets game plan consisted of triple goalkeepers twisting their bodies and crashing arms against their defenders. Both teams are good at this.
And here we are. There were 10 seconds left and the Rockets were at a disadvantage of 3 points. Harden, one of the biggest of all time to get fouls, tries a 3-point basket to try to tie the stock. Draymond Green, one of the greatest advocates of this era, jumps to challenge him.
Green takes a step forward towards the Green area. Harden’s legs make scissors towards Green and Harden falls to the floor. Two officials, Courtney Kirkland and Josh Tiven, watch without imposing any sanctions.
“You have to arbitrate the game like you’re supposed to do and that’s it,” Harden said. “And I will live with the results. However, especially we all know what happened a few years ago with Kawhi. That can change the course of the entire series. ”
Harden refers to the incursion of Zaza Pachulia against Kawhi Leonard in Game 1 of the Finals of the Western Conference of 2017. This is a reference to what is at stake. That play changed that game, that series and maybe, changed the name of the champion of that season.
However, listen to Green.
“When you fall 3 feet ahead of where you were supposed to shoot the ball, that’s really not my problem,” says Green. “I have received James fouls in triples from James previously.”
But here is the case. After this crucial moment that was the highlight of an afternoon in which we saw this cat and mouse game repeated constantly, Chris Paul took the offensive rebound with a sprint from behind to get to the paint. It seemed he would return her to Harden to take another chance to draw. However, Harden was on the floor, out of the play. Put there for, say, something circumstantial. Call it missing, call it fall.
In a perfect world, he would have another chance and Green would have another chance to stop him. But this is a Rockets-Warriors series in 2019. Because of that, Paul got stuck and ran over Klay Thompson, unleashing another intense play that was not interrupted that led to another technical foul and the expulsion of Paul. crashed with Tiven in the heat of the moment, which is another issue that the league office must submit to review.
After the game, in the visitors’ locker room, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni demonstrated exactly the sense of the rule in terms of the space a scorer is supposed to have when he jumps to shoot. He knows the chapter and verse well, including the rights of the defender. It is a constant topic of debate, considering that it is an important part of what your team usually does.
D’Antoni thought the Rockets should have been favored with at least 20 more free throws.
Meanwhile, in the Warriors’ locker room, they whispered about how the Rockets get away with putting two hands on Kevin Durant when he tries to break into the basket, which is a violation of the rules. Durant is so dominant with his height and skills with the basket that once he gets the ball and manages to lift it to the basket, there’s really no way to stop it. Therefore, the teams try everything they can to prevent that ball is on your head.
The Warriors thought Durant should have stopped much more in front of the free throw line.
And these are just the arguments of Game 1. During Game 2, it may not be the fouls in triple attempts. It could be Harden’s ability to create contact when he approaches the basket. He is an absolute master in this. Or maybe it has to do with Durant’s use of false moves; He is so used to having his rivals try to get the ball out of his hands with strong swipes before raising it that he has already become an expert.
Harden finished the game with 14 free throws. Durant converted 15.
This is capable of perplexing anyone. It is not the way in which this should be defined.
However, here is Paul, barking at the officials and being thrown out of the court. We have D’Antoni broken into screams. Green claims that they unfairly harmed him. Durant is upset.
Everyone is excellent at what they do. They are extremely intelligent. Everyone is prepared for the next play, the next game.
In a rivalry that is so competitive with such a small margin of error and one or two doses of quarrels, perhaps this is what we should accept. The search for an advantage between both teams, however small, is part of their DNA.
“That’s the nature of the game we show,” Green said. “Arbitration is an inaccurate science. So things are the way they are. ”
That’s how we believe.