6th Fan Blogger: Bucks vs. Celtics
One Move to Rule Them All
In 1991, EA Sports released a legendary video game for the Sega Genesis console entitled, "Bulls versus Lakers and the NBA Playoffs." One of the more prominent features of the game was the signature moves assigned to a select group of players. Michael Jordan had his patented air reverse, Tim Hardaway his UTEP 2-Step, Alvin Robertson his off-the-glass dunk and Tom Chambers his super dunk based off this play. When activated, these moves were essentially impossible to stop. Any efforts to thwart these maneuvers were futile. They may not have looked all that fluid on the screen, but they were an automatic two points.
This brings me to the modern day UTEP 2-Step. While Hardaway's crossover may have been unguardable in the virtual world, Ersan Ilyasova's pump fake is unguardable in the real one. To see an Ilyasova pump fake in person is to witness something magnificent, something breathtaking, something life-altering. Referring to it as a mere pump fake doesn't really do it justice. Tonight I will examine the devastation that can befall a defender when victimized by ... The Ilyasova Show-and-Goa. The year: 2010. The victims: Elton Brand and Samuel Dalembert.
- Ilyasova receives the ball on the wing with the room to shoot and the option to drive. He could tickle the twine with a rainbow J, or he could embarrass Brand and everyone in his family.
- Ilyasova goes with the latter, choosing to drop The Ilyasova Show-and-Goa on Brand. He gives Brand a quick up-fake, causing the former all-star to leave his feet and opening up a lane to drive. Ilyasova's pump fake has varying levels of severity. This particular instance was a quicker fake than most, as he often opts for a more exaggerated version. Both options are equally effective for Ilyasova and embarrassing for the opposition.
- With Brand's defensive position now compromised, Ilyasova steps to the left and begins his foray to the rim. It's at this point that Brand comes to the mortifying realization that his jock is on the court and he's about to be on the wrong end of a SportsCenter Top 10 nominee.
- A wide-open path to the tin has Ersan's eyes big and his legs ready for lift off.
- Ilyasova is not known for his high-flying antics, but the thought of humiliating both Brand and Dalembert on the same play is simply too much to bypass. Dalembert is one of the more feared shot-blockers in the NBA, but he has no idea the level of embarrassment he's about to experience.
- Ilyasova single-handedly humiliates the starting frontline for the 76ers, losing Brand with The Ilyasova Show-and-Goa and posterizing Dalembert with a bolt of Turkish thunder.
- The Bucks bench, led by Andrew Bogut, immediately jumps off the pine in appreciation. The fan in the blue sweater is so blown away by what he's just witnessed that he chokes on his brat. He is one of eight attendees that require the Heimlich maneuver following what turns into a near-death experience. This is a below-average total as a typical Ilyasova pump fake, on average, results in a baker's dozen worth of Heimlichs. The Elias Sports Bureau states that no other player in NBA history averages more than six Heimlichs per pump fake, less than half of Ilyasova's career average.
Most NBA fans prefer the highlight reels put together by the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant. Not me. I'm a simple man who enjoys the simple pleasures in life. The Ilyasova Show-and-Goa may not produce the "oohs" of an Allen Iverson crossover, or the "aahs" of a Dominique Wilkins windmill, but it brings me immeasurable joy. It puts a smile on my face and a spring in my step. If EA Sports ever brings the signature-move feature back to "NBA Live," I will be the first in line at the store.
And now, for your viewing pleasure, the final product.
- Rajon Rondo's shoes are blindingly white, so much so that they were the first things I saw when he came out of the tunnel. Granted, I look at shoes more than the average person, but it's like he was sending out a beacon to passing ships. I employed the eclipse rule throughout the game, not looking directly at them for fear of sight loss.
- The Prince got away with what could best be described as a jump dribble halfway through the first quarter. I don't know that I've ever seen a player dribble with both feet at least a foot off the ground. Not quite sure how he got away with that one, but that should definitely be considered as his signature move in "NBA Live."
- The Celtics have to be the most volatile team in the NBA. Kendrick Perkins (15 techs) looks like he's about to blow a gasket every time he's called for a foul, Rasheed Wallace (17 techs) will snarl at a ref if they even look at him wrong, and Kevin Garnett (6 techs) is way too intense to be considered safe. And then there's Glen "Big Baby" Davis, whose moniker does an ample job telling his tale. I guess it's no surprise they lead the league with 51 total player technical fouls. A team with that kind of temperament is bound to ring up a few T's. The Bucks are on the complete opposite end of the spectrum with a mere 14 combined player techs, lower than the individual totals of both Wallace and Perkins.
- One of the things I've noticed about John Salmons' game is how quietly he can put up 20 points. I think the kind of shots he takes is the main reason it's such a quiet 20. He rarely makes a move or takes a shot that will end up in the postgame highlights. He just buries midrange jumper after midrange jumper and free throw after free throw. He lives in the 10- to 18-foot range. They're certainly not the sexiest shots, but two points is two points regardless of the flair in which they're scored. Nobody remembers those baskets, but they show up in the box score all the same.
- I love how other professional athletes in Wisconsin support the Bucks. Guys like Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Ryan Braun and Rickie Weeks are routinely spotted at Bucks games. Tonight's visitors included Yovani Gallardo, LaTroy Hawkins and Nick Barnett, who did a fine job of firing up the crowd during a third-quarter timeout. State unity, ain't nothing wrong with that.
- Big Baby has one move in his arsenal after stoppages in play, and that's the angry hippo charge. Upon getting up from the ground, he simply lowers his head and charges into the sternum of the other player. He did it to Brandon Jennings the last time Boston was in town, and he did the same tonight to Kurt Thomas. At least time he picked on someone his own size this time. You mess with the hippo, you get the ... whatever it is that hippos have. One more time.
Closing It Out
Tonight's game was an excellent testament as to what the Bucks will be in for in the playoffs. Milwaukee solidified its playoff positioning this week against substandard teams that pale in comparison to the Celtics. Boston might not have come to the court with Garnett in tow, but they did come with the kind of playoff intensity that the Bucks can expect come playoff time, whether they're facing Boston or Atlanta. The key for Milwaukee will be matching that intensity, and hopefully surpassing it. They just didn't do that tonight.
Paul Pierce exemplified Boston's playoff intensity. He did tonight was he's done for 11 years, taking over down the stretch and repeatedly hitting jumpers, and the Bucks couldn't counter. They picked up the intensity down the stretch, but it was too little too late. They were out-intensified, plain and simple. In a way, it may have actually been a good thing. It gave Milwaukee a preview of what was to come, and now it knows what it needs to bring to the table come April 17. Better to find out now than in the first round of the playoffs.
I can tell you one thing, if the Bucks meet the Celtics in the first round, it's going to be a seriously physical series. Milwaukee could potentially play Boston nine times in a matter of three weeks. Any time one team plays another team that many times in that short of a period, some bad blood is bound to develop. But hey, what are the playoffs without a little bloodshed.
Work hard. Play hard. Type hard.
Note: These are the views of the 6th Fan Blogger. Thoughts and opinions expressed in this articles are not necessarily the views of the Milwaukee Bucks.