Hardwood Paroxysm is a collective of basketball writers whose coat of arms features athletic big men who will never live up to their potential and college-learned point guards with street-learned pass fakes. We love hyperbole, exclamation points, and everything the D-League has been and ever will be. We may not always be right, but we’re trying to learn more about the game every day. Visit HardwoodParoxysm.com for more in-depth, unique NBA content.
Hawks vs. Pacers: Numbers Matter, Except When They Don’t; or the Re-Death-ening of the Center Position
by Andrew Lynch (@AndrewLynch)
I’m not one of those blowhards who thinks statistics are for nerds.
Numbers matter. Numbers are important. They show us things about the game that we might not see right away, and they confirm the things that we do notice. And in this first round series between the Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks, there’s one undeniable fact that the numbers back up:
The center position is dead. Again.
Yes, my friends, if you want to see dominant big men, you’ve got to watch a halftime or postgame broadcast in this day and age — because you certainly won’t see one on the floor. People have tried to convince us that center is alive and well, that this new wave of Joakim Noahs and Marc Gasols and Roy Hibberts might not put up Hall of Fame-worthy stat lines, but they’re impact on defense doesn’t show up in the box score.
Really? For one, have you ever heard of David Robinson, and Hakeem Olajuwon, and Patrick Ewing, and Mark Eaton, and, oh, I don’t know, Bill Russell? Let’s just say that it’s not exactly new for a center to play good defense, and those guys managed to be amazing, stupendous offensive players at the same time. Every. Single. One of them. That was just a better time for big men, and the stats, for the analytically inclined, pretty clearly bear that out.
Second, is that why Pero Antic, a 58-year old rookie, is going to determine whether the first seeded Pacers are upset or not? Because Roy Hibbert, epitome of his position, is such an important player that his presence on the floor has become a detriment to his team? Antic can step outside, knock down a three, and set a screen when he needs to. That’s what centers are now — ancillary pieces, not the focus of your offense. Big guys trying to man the middle? A dying breed, and Hibbert has one foot in the hospital and the other at the burial plot, shovel in hand, ready to bury what remains of a once legendary position.
So when it comes to Roy Hibbert and his center colleagues, it’s all about the numbers. Here are a few:
7, as in feet tall.
6, as in points per game in the playoffs
4, as in rebounds per game in the playoffs
2, as in number of wins the Atlanta Hawks, who weren’t even supposed to be here, have in the first round against the Indiana Pacers.
Those numbers? They’re facts. Facts can’t be argued. That’s a fact. And that’s the beauty of stats — they tell the story, and that’s that.
But Hibbert’s not the only reason this Indiana team has fallen apart and gone from championship contender to first round ouster in two months flat. And here, readers, is where the numbers fall short, because while it’s important to know the facts, not everything is a number. What, are you going to grab a scale and measure the weight of someone’s heart? That’s murder, bub.
No, you can’t measure the impact of trading Danny Granger, the common thread from this team to those of Pacers past, and bringing in Evan Turner to compete with Lance Stephenson for control of Indiana’s second squad.
There’s no way to put a number to the in-fighting and the insults that have flown among teammates. Say what you want about the situation in Cleveland this year, where two foundational pieces of the franchise were on the verge of an all-out war, but at least the Cavaliers had the decency not to destroy the quest for a ring with their chemistry issues.
The Pacers can’t say the same. They had the world in their hands, and they wanted more.
Unfortunately, they’re learning that when you trade the world for a chance at the universe, you’re really acquiring the whole lot of nothing that makes up space. Indiana had substance and loyalty, and that’s gone, alongside their title dreams.
Bobcats vs. Heat: The Charlotte Bobcats Have Given Up And Are Now Focusing On Hurting LeBron James
By Ananth Pandian (@Ananth_Pandian)
The Charlotte Bobcats entered this series knowing that they were going to be in for a challenge facing the NBA Champion, Miami Heat. This isn’t the Bobcats teams of old though, so they were up for the challenge but this all changed once their superstar center, Al Jefferson tore his plantar fascia. Without Big Al at hundred percent, the Bobcats understood that they couldn’t actually win against the Heat, so team owner Michael Jordan sent the word down to head coach Steve Clifford, knock the crown off the head of King James. Clifford acquiesced and decided to sic wild man thug, Josh McRoberts on James.
McRoberts first struck in the closing minute of the Heat’s Game 3 victory:
This blow to the throat earned McRoberts a $20,000 fine after the game but that is nothing for noted shoe salesman, Jordan, who is actually paying the fine. Coach Clifford has earned rave reviews for his coaching work this season, so it is no surprise that he was expertly able to coach the Bobcats into responding very PR friendly when reporters asked about the foul and fine:
“He didn’t try to hurt the man,” Charlotte guard Kemba Walker says. “I think he (McRoberts) tried to get a clean foul. If you’ve got LeBron coming full speed at you, you take the hit. You get hit.”
“I know he didn’t do it on purpose,” (Al) Jefferson says. “LeBron’s probably got 30, 35 pounds more than Josh. He had to protect himself. I just really believe that if it was as bad as everybody tries to make it seem, they would have thrown him out of the game right there.
In Game 3, right after LeBron stared him down, Jordan told Clifford that McRoberts needed to strike again:
Sure, this was not as hard as his Game 2 foul, but McRoberts obviously is just setting the stage for Game 4 where he will have his final chance to take down the King.