NBA Wrap-up for April 19
Breaking down the day’s top NBA stories …. The Warriors are in the playoffs. Yes, the Warriors end their 12-year playoff drought … Last night proved it: the Clippers are still the Clippers and Kobe’s Lakers are still Kobe’s Lakers … Will NBA refs hold a grudge against Tim Duncan? What do you think?
Top 3 Stories
1) The Warriors are playoff bound
2) Clippers out; Lakers hold on to 7th
3) Duncan worried refs will hold a grudge
1) Golden State taking on Dallas in the first round
What Happened: Pigs are flying. Hell has frozen over. And the are going to the playoffs.
The Warriors clinched the 8th seed in the Western Conference playoffs by beating the Trail Blazers on the final day of the regular season.
With the win, Golden State ended a 12 year playoff drought. The Warriors got back into the playoff race by winning 16 of their final 21 games.
Reaction of broadcaster Matt Steinmetz on the Warriors playoff chances:
“The Warriors are dangerous. Why? Because they’re 16-5. Because they’re one of the hottest teams in the league right now. And they’ve beaten really good teams. Their schedule was not easy… They’ve done an incredible job. I don’t think anybody thought they’d be here after that Washington loss in early March.” (Fox Sports Network)
Reaction of Golden State guard Jason Richardson on the post-game celebration:
"It was crazy. Guys were laughing, having a good time, yelling at each other. It just felt amazing. I don’t think I will be able to sleep for about two days.’" (CNNSI)
Reaction of Golden State Coach Don Nelson on the Warriors down the stretch:
”Each one of these last games has been bigger and bigger. This was the biggest because if we win, we’re in. We needed to win." (CNNSI)
My Take: The curse is lifted. The Warriors are in. Golden State deserves a ton of credit for having a great final month of the season. This team has chemistry. They’re feeling good about things.
Can the Warriors upset the Mavericks? No, but they’ll be competitive. Golden State has some swagger and their up-tempo style gives Dallas problems. This will be a fun series.
2) Clippers done, Lakers advance to the second season
What Happened: The basketball gods have spoken. The are still the Los Angeles Clippers. And the are still the Los Angeles Lakers.
These two teams share a city. But Wednesday night proved, once again, how different their fate and fortune is.
The Clippers were eliminated from the post season after the Warriors beat the Blazers to clinch the last playoff spot. It gets worse for L.A.’s other team. The Clipper lost to the Hornets in the final seconds on a wild buzzer-beater. When it rains, it pours.
Of course, the Los Angeles Lakers won their final game against Sacramento to hang onto the seventh seed in the Western Conference playoffs. They’ll face the Suns in the first round of the playoffs.
Reaction of Los Angeles Clippers forward Elton Brand on missing the playoffs:
"I definitely don’t want the season to be over now. It really hurts, it really burns. We need to improve our attention to detail. ‘We lost some tough games because of some bonehead plays.”
Reaction of Los Angeles Lakers forward Luke Walton on their first round rematch with Phoenix :
”Obviously as a basketball player and a competitor, if a team knocks you out of the playoffs, you want a chance to get your revenge. It wasn’t like we were looking to play any one of them, but it will be nice to get that opportunity.” (CNNSI)
My Take: The Clippers have had very little luck this season. That being said, the Clippers would be heading to Dallas if they handled their business against last Sunday night.
I think the Clippers lacked focus. Sure, they had injuries, but they played as individuals for most of the season. I think they took a step back this season.
The Lakers did just enough to make the playoffs. The difference between the two L.A. teams: Kobe Bryant. The most talented player in the world held things together for the Lakers. I’m thrilled the Lakers will play the Suns in a first round rematch of last year’s classic series.
3) Timmy D worried about the ref’s wrath
What Happened: Tim Duncan is concerned other referees could hold a grudge against him for his confrontation with veteran official Joey Crawford.
Duncan got ejected from Sunday’s game between and . He got his second technical, for laughing, from the Spurs’ bench.
On Tuesday, Commissioner Stern suspended Crawford for the rest of the season because he felt the referee provoked the incident.
Crawford has over thirty years of experience as a referee. He’s also served as a mentor and friend to many of the league’s younger officials.
Reaction of San Antonio forward Tim Duncan on ref’s holding a grudge:
“I didn’t do anything to invoke the reaction that he gave to me and what he did, so I had nothing to do with that. So hopefully they take that into consideration and we get a fair shake from everybody." (ESPN.com)
Reaction of San Antonio Express reporter Mike Monroe on ref’s holding a grudge against Duncan and the Spurs:
“A basketball executive from a Western Conference team — not a Spur — phoned me Tuesday afternoon and began our conversation with a reminder and a warning: If Tim thinks he had a hard time staying on the court in Athens (during the 2004 Olympics), wait until two or three of those Philadelphia refs show up to work one of the Spurs’ playoff games. (Spurs trainer) Will Sevening had better make sure Tim doesn’t catch a cold, because if he sneezes in one of those refs’ direction, he’s apt to get a tech." (San Antonio Express News)
My Take: I’m not sure what to make of this situation. Officials aren’t supposed to have a bias. But, as we saw with Crawford, that’s not always the case. However, I can’t see the refs harboring a long-term grudge against Duncan or the Spurs.
The media attention from this incident should be a concern. San Antonio and Duncan aren’t used to the glare of the national spotlight. This incident has gotten more national attention than San Antonio’s drive to the NBA Title. I don’t think they need any distractions heading into the post-season.
Come back tomorrow morning for another edition of the NBA Wrap-up, featuring Oly Sandor’s cutting-edge analysis. Got a comment or question? Use the comment box or email Oly at firstname.lastname@example.org.