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Buzz Roundtable: Flops, Pacers/Heat, Spurs Rest, Coaches

Welcome to the latest edition of The “Buzz”: Basketball Roundtable.  We pose several basketball related questions to our panel of life-long NBA fans for their candid opinions.  We invite anyone to participate by answering the same questions in the “Comments” section at the bottom of this article.  Our panel consists of Jordan Leung, Matt Fish (of “Fish on Sports”) and Kaine Elmy.

1) The NBA recently fined LeBron James, David West, Lance Stephenson, $5000 each for flopping during the series between the Pacers and Heat. Is the flopping rule working? Are we seeing less simulation overall? Or is the $5000 fine too small to make an impact?

Matt – I think it may be starting to work a little bit, but the league is still far away from eliminating it overall and/or reducing it significantly. To be honest, flopping is a problem in every league, because players prey on the subjectivity of officiating to try and gain any advantage they can. Is it dishonest? Absolutely. Is it going to go away completely, ever? Probably not. That being said, it’s nice to see stricter rulings in the first stages of making an impact on this issue.

Jordan – Blatant flops need to result in technical fouls and suspensions. That’s really the only way to stop flopping. The problem with flopping in basketball as opposed to soccer is that flopping in basketball can immediately change the impact of a one or two possession game, whereas a flop in soccer can not change the score of the game as directly. $5000 is chump change for any NBA player. If a $5000 fine is what it takes to win a playoff game then you take that $5000 fine.

Kaine – I really think they are going to need to significantly increase the penalty amount for it to actually impact a player. James earns over $60 million a season with his playing contract and endorsements; $5000 to him is nothing. Even players on a minimum contract won’t flinch at a $5000 fine. Just look at how the rule has affected players since it’s introduction; it hasn’t.


2) Miami’s ‘big three’ have essentially become the Miami ‘big one’ of Lebron James in this playoff series. What has happened to Wade and Bosh? How is Indiana neutralizing them?

Matt – Plain and simple: Indiana’s sticking with the scouting report and it’s translating into successful defense. Bad knee or not, Wade is not being allowed any time and space to get close to the hoop, and with his perimeter shot having been in the tank most of the season, they’ll live with him shooting threes all game. As for Bosh, they know he’s not much of a banger down low, so they’re contesting his jump shot and, if when he catches it down low, Hibbert is forcing him out of the paint with brute force. LeBron won Game 5 almost singlehandedly for the Heat; if they don’t want this series going seven, the other two of the Big Three need to show up for Game 7 or Miami could be in trouble.

Jordan – I think the more interesting question is to ask if this is a result of LeBron not being able to truly coexist with other stars. Maybe LeBron James led basketball is a zero sum game, and LeBron can only excel at the cost of his teammates. Give credit to Indiana, but I think the poor play of Wade and Bosh is more of a team chemistry issue with Miami.

Kaine – I don’t think Indiana has really had to do anything to eliminate Bosh and Wade, they did it themselves. Lebron has literally had to carry the whole team and much like Durant was, is suffering incredibly. Then with players like Paul George and Roy Hibbert in such superb form, the Pacers are easily outshining the big three.


3) With Miami/Indiana playing a long series, and the fact that the Western Conference Final started earlier anyways, San Antonio gets a long layoff before the finals. Does this help them in getting rest to cure the bumps and bruises, or would being rusty and no longer on top of their game become a factor?

Matt – It helps them in a big way. You give the aging-but-efficient Spurs time to heal their wounds, while at the same time giving Pop and the rest of that coaching staff nearly a week and a half to prepare for their next opponent, I like San Antonio’s chances. If LeBron continues to get no help for the bulk of Miami’s games, I’d go so far as to say the Spurs will beat whomever comes out of the East in six games.

Jordan – No one ever really knows the answer to this question, but after the scare from Golden State in Games 1 and 2 of this series, the layoff might contribute more rust than rest for San Antonio. But then, of all the teams in the NBA Playoffs, San Antonio is the team that could use the rest the most. I don’t know the stat off the top of my head, but Popovich is undefeated in Game 1 after long layoffs, so I don’t think San Antonio will be hurt too much by the rest.

Kaine – I really think it depends on who they play. Obviously best outcome for them is a series against the Pacers; I’d take experience over skill in a heartbeart. But a series against Miami is a much more daunting thing. However, the rest period is a good thing for San Antonio. They are all veterans and Pacers are a much younger team. In saying that, if the series is against Miami, I wouldn’t want to have been not playing for so long with them. Either way, I see Spurs taking it out this year.


4) Mike Malone (Kings), Mike Budenholzer (Hawks), Steve Clifford (Bobcats), Jeff Hornacek (Suns) and Larry Drew (Bucks) were hired as NBA head coaches in the last week. Who will have the biggest impact on their new team?

Matt – This question has a two-fold answer. Short-term, I say Mike Budenholzer, who comes from the stability of the Spurs organization to a team that, while they may be retooling, will still have some decent pieces come next season, even if Josh Smith leaves. Long-term, I say Jeff Hornacek can make the Suns into a consistent threat. His tutelage under one of the all-time great coaches (he was Jerry Sloan’s assistant in Utah for many years) will suit him well, along with his long and distinguished playing career. I think he’ll get the ear of the young Suns team and, down the road, this will be a good hire in Phoenix.

Jordan – My homer pick will go to Mike Malone. Watching this Warriors season, it seems like Mark Jackson does very little basketball coaching in terms of strategy and gameplans, and is more of a motivational speaker/emotional leader. Mike Malone was the key to the Warriors success on defense, and I give a lot of credit to him. It’ll be interesting to see him lead a team that is generally talented, but needs a bit more direction.

The Budenholzer hiring could be one of the bigger hirings so far. Budenholzer is an unknown right now, but if you want to believe in NBA coaching trees, Poppovich served as assistants to Larry Brown and Don Nelson, so coaching success and philosophies could be easily passed down to assistants.

Kaine – I’m going to go ahead and say Mike Malone, but only because of the state the Kings are in now. With a new coach, a new owner and ultimately a new start. He’s been a great assistant with the Warriors and is the son of a former coach. He’s very defensive minded, so expect to see him try form a like-minded team on the court for Sacramento



Thanks for reading.  Don’t forget to follow the panel on Twitter – @giordun @aFishCalledMatt @KaineElmy.  While you’re at it, give the site a follow too – @lastwordonsport.

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Photo Credit: Keith Allison, Creative Commons, via


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