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Click and Roll has returned to duty every weekday for the playoffs. Stick with us throughout the postseason as Click and Roll will cover the NBA Playoffs 2003 as only we can.

NBA Playoffs 2003 | TV: Mavs-Spurs (9 ET, TNT)

Friday, May 23


A New (Cavalier) Attitude

We can safely say that this jersey wasn't made in honor of author Henry James.
(Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty/NBAE Images)
While everyone in the East was talking about some guy named James on Thursday, the Mavs and the Spurs where nowhere near the NBA Entertainment studios in Secaucus, N.J.

Not that they don't like Secaucus, but playoffs teams don't go there. The Mavs and the Spurs were in Dallas, busy preparing for Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals tonight (9 ET, TNT). (NBA.com)

In returning home, the Mavs hope to get their offense cooking again. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

Everything has come full circle for the Spurs, because back in the day Dallas was the original home of the Spurs. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

But a lot of the focus on this series has been on the charity stripe. That will happen when the teams combine for 120 fouls and 165 free throws ... in the first two games! (New York Times)

Because of this, the Spurs know they need to concentrate at the free throw line. (San Antonio Express-News)

As for the Mavs, although they have put together some extraordinary fourth quarters, they have had to because they have been falling behind early. (Dallas Morning News)

The Mavs coaching staff also knows that being somnambulant at the start is not a good thing. Assistant coach Rolando Blackman says the Mavs' time is now. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

Speaking of the future being now, let's talk about the NBA Draft Lottery. (NBA.com)

His smile, as wide as the state of Ohio, said it all. It belied the mischievous tone to his quip.

"You know, we don't know who we are going to pick yet," Cavaliers owner Gordon Gund said moments after winning the NBA Draft Lottery.

Ha! Good one, Mr. Gund. While doing an interview for NBA TV with Mark Morgan, Gund mentioned how great it was for the franchise and Cavs fans to win the Draft Lottery (Hurry, the bandwagon has begun to fill up!), as a Cavs PR man slipped something into Gund's hand. It had no sleeves and matched Gund's wine and gold tie. (NBA.com)

He asked Morgan to help straighten it out for the TV cameras. And there it was. A brand, spanking new Cavs jersey with "James" and the No. 23 on the back.

"I didn't have it on me," Gund said. "I didn't want to jinx it. Somebody brought it in their briefcase and I said, 'I don't even want to know about it.'"

But now that they know LeBron James is the one, the excitement is palpable. Gund and the Cavs PR staff glided through the NBAE offices as they went from interview to interview, pausing in the hallways to display the jersey and take pictures.

Moments after participating in an NBA.com cybercast in our office (and coolly dropping the Cavs' ticket number into one of his responses -- 216-420-2287), Gund and the Cavs PR staff paused to watch and listen to an interview with James on ABC.

When James said he was "excited to be a Cavalier," the visually impaired Gund, who had been listening intently, broke into another wide smile, leaned back in his chair and pumped his fist into his hand, eliciting a loud smack as he said, "Yes!" (Akron Beacon-Journal)

LeBron, happy to be a Cavalier? That was music to Gund's ears.

The Draft Lottery's other big winner? The Pistons. Thanks to a trade made in 1997 which brought Otis Thorpe to the then-Vancouver Grizzlies, Detroit will receive Memphis' No. 2 pick. (Detroit News)

And who made that trade in 1997 that benefited the Pistons? Check out this interesting story on the two men who closed the deal. Both were in the NBA Entertainment studios in Secaucus, N.J. last night. (Detroit Free Press)

At least the Pistons won something, because on the floor, they haven't been holding their own against the Nets in the Eastern Conference Finals. (Detroit News)

After Thursday night's 97-85 win, the Nets lead the series 3-0. While the Pistons overcame a 3-1 deficit in the first round against the Magic, it has been well documented here in Click and Roll, no team in NBA history has ever come back from a three-game deficit. (NBA.com)

For the Nets, nothing seems impossible with Jason Kidd on the floor. (New York Post)

The win was the Nets' ninth straight in the playoffs and the perfect No. 10 could come Saturday in New Jersey (8 ET, ESPN).

Rob Peterson, NBA.com

Thursday, May 22


Follow the Bouncing Ping-Pong Balls

"So, Del, meet you in the locker room just before halftime?"
(D. Clarke Evans/Getty/NBAE Images)
Ah, the NBA Draft Lottery. Is there any anaerobic sporting event that offers more nervous tension? (NBA.com)

Tonight on ABC (8 ET), you'll see well-dressed representatives from 13 teams who look as if they're waiting for the reading of Uncle Charlie's last will and testament. They will smile faintly, or nod seriously, when they are introduced.

All 13 of them know only one of the relatives will get the big house and the millions in the bank, while the others get to split the abandoned family farm in Saskatchewan. Moments later, they will then see the future of their franchise flash before their eyes when the Draft Lottery order is revealed in a studio about 300 feet from my cubicle.

Welcome to Secaucus, N.J., gentlemen! Leave your cell phones at the door. (Chicago Tribune)

Another reason for the tension? The NBA Draft Lottery is one of the few events where being No. 1 doesn't have any inherent benefits. The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Denver Nuggets each have a 22.5 percent chance of winning the Lottery for a chance at drafting you-know-who. (NBA.com)

But only two teams, New Jersey in 1990 and Philly in 1996, with the most chances have won the Draft Lottery.

Then again, maybe getting the No. 1 pick isn't all it's cracked up to be. (NBA.com)

As for Game 3 between the Nets and the Pistons tonight (8:30 ET, ABC), the series features nine players selected by lottery teams. (both NBA.com)

New Jersey has six, including the only overall No. 1 draft pick in the series, Kenyon Martin, who has been one of the best performers of NBA Playoffs 2003. (Detroit Free Press, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Detroit has three players who were selected in the lottery, none by the Pistons and whose best player, Ben Wallace, was an undrafted free agent acquired in a trade. The Pistons also obtained another player selected in the lottery by a trade, and right now, the Hamilton-Stackhouse swap has worked out well for Detroit. (Detroit Free Press)

Still, pedigree doesn't win games, scoring does, even for the defensive minded Pistons. (Detroit News)

That, and Wallace needs some help on the boards. (Bergen County Record)

As for the Nets, they've made their mark late in the fourth quarter in this series. (New York Post)

Speaking of the fourth quarter, the Mavs made another final stanza run against the Spurs in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, but it was too little too late as Dallas ran out of time and nearly ran out of coaches. (Dallas Morning News)

It also didn't help that the Spurs sprinted to a big early lead. (San Antonio Express-News)

Technically speaking, I wouldn't want to be with referee Joey Crawford if his steak arrives medium when he asked for medium-rare. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

And guess who wasn't too thrilled on Wednesday. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

Despite the shenanigans, Tim Duncan and Malik Rose took control of the proceedings in the paint. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

The revelation was Rose, who had 25 points and sank 15-of-18 free throws. (Dallas Morning News)

Finally, things may be looking up for Pistons fans. (Detroit Free Press)

Rob Peterson, NBA.com

Wednesday, May 21


The Truth Shalt Set You Free (Throws)

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich explains to referee Bennett Salvatore how heavy his IBM Coach of the Year Award is.
(Jed Jacobsohn/Getty/NBAE Images)
If the first three games of the Conference Finals have reinforced any of basketball's commandments, we now know for sure that if you covet a victory, Thou Shalt Make Thy Free Throws.

Can I get an "Amen?"

Look at the Mavs in Game 1 against the Spurs. The Mavs, who led the league in free throw percentage during the regular season at 82.9 percent, hit 49 of their 50 free throw attempts and won by three points. (NBA.com)

Mark Cuban looks smart for hiring a free throw coach. (Dallas Morning News)

Well, at least he's a demure free throw coach. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

The Spurs however made only 31 of their 48 attempts (64.6 percent). If the Spurs had shot the same number of free throws (48) but matched their regular season average of 72.5 percent, which was 26th in the league, they would have made four more free throws. From there, you can figure out the Mavs, er, math. (Dallas Morning News)

Now, let's look at the numbers for the first two games of the Pistons-Nets series. The number two, as you can see, plays a big part.

2 -- The Nets' margin of victory in Games 1 and 2

2 -- Number of Pistons' technical fouls in Game 2

2 -- Total number of free throws made by Lucious Harris in Game 2, both after technical fouls, for one of which Jon Barry is really, really, really sorry (Detroit News)

21/10/11 -- Number of missed free throws by the Pistons in two games and in Game 1 and Game 2, respectively

67.1 -- Detroit's free throw percentage during the Eastern Conference Finals

77.1 -- Detroit's free throw percentage during the regular season

76.5 -- Percentage the Pistons would be shooting if they made three more free throws in each game

In the playoffs, when possessions and points are precious, making your free throws is paramount. The Nets know this. That's why they've reached this number:

8 -- Consecutive playoffs wins dating back to the first round

They also dream of sweeping the Pistons, which would run their streak to a perfect 10. (New York Daily News)

Obviously, factors other than free throws have played a part in the Nets' heading back to New Jersey with a commanding 2-0 series lead, such as Kenyon Martin coming alive in the fourth quarter. (New York Daily News)

That, and active rebounding throughout the game. (Detroit News)

One Detroit columnist says now may be the time to face reality, Pistons fans. (Detroit Free Press)

In the West, the reality is the Spurs are down 1-0 heading into tonight's Game 2 in San Antonio (8:30 ET, TNT).

One San Antonio columnist suggests it's time to get a little nasty as the Spurs may be too nice. (San Antonio Express-News)

But if the Spurs became nasty, they wouldn't be so damn lovable (Or is that not despise-able?). (Dallas Morning News)

This Dallas columnist thinks the Mavs have discovered their inner Bad Boys. It also means the Mavs won't stop beating on Bruce Bowen. (Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

One Chicago (Chicago?) columnist says the "Beat-a-Bruce" strategy ruins Don Nelson's reputation. (Chicago Tribune)

I'll say it once, and I'll say it again, sometimes winning means exploiting an opponent's weakness as much as it means for a team to rely on its strengths.

Finally, the last word on free throws from an 80-year-old expert, who has made 500 free throws in a row on 473 different occasions. This octogenarian knows that free throws are basketball's details. And as we've proven, winning is in the details. (Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel)

Amen!

Rob Peterson, NBA.com

Tuesday, May 20


The Confidence Game

We've captured one of the kinder, gentler moments from Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
(Allan Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images)
OK, we know the Nets won Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday when Jason Kidd hit an improbable fadeaway with 2.0 seconds remaining.

So, who's feeling confident right now before tonight's Game 2 in Auburn Hills (8 ET, ESPN)? Why both teams, of course!

-- Pistons retain their swagger (Detroit News)
-- New Jersey players are swaggering after Game 1 (Detroit Free Press)

Swaggering must be a side effect of having a bruising defense, which both teams possess.

Maybe the Pistons are confident because their coach can make adjustments. (Detroit News)

That, and the Pistons' rookies are playing out of this world. (Detroit Free Press)

And maybe the Pistons are confident because they have a team full of players just like their incredible GM, Joe Dumars, himself a playoffs MVP. (Newark Star-Ledger)

For the Nets, swagger could be the direct effect of having a great fast break. Remember the fast break? They call it "a transition game" now and it's as common as a complete game in baseball or a drop kick in football. New Jersey does it the best, and the Pistons have to stop it if they want to win. (Detroit Free Press)

Going back to the first round, the Nets' transition offense has fueled a seven-game playoff win streak. (New York Daily News)

Another reason for the Nets' success can be traced to the supporting role of this man in the middle, which has made this man log some serious time on the pine. (New York Post, Newsday)

But for the Nets, it all starts with the guy leading the fast break and it looks like he may stick around for awhile. (New York Post)

Speaking of sticking around, the Mavs and the Spurs loitered around the charity stripe on Monday. (NBA.com)

Thanks to the two teams shooting a combined 98 free throws, Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals lasted three hours. Some would say the Mavs' 113-110 win was an act of charity by the Spurs, who blew a 12-point fourth quarter lead. (San Antonio Express-News)

The Mavericks made the most of their 50 -- 50! -- trips to the free throw line, hitting 49 in a row (98 percent, second highest in playoffs history). The lone star culprit who missed? Eduardo Najera. I bet you he'll be running laps today. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

More than anything though, the Mavs played tough defense down the stretch. (Dallas Morning News)

Still, 98 free throws total and 49 made for the Mavs. That's a ton, but not a playoffs record. The Celtics, in a four-OT game in 1953, made 57 free throws as did the Suns against the Sonics in 1993. As for attempts, the old St. Louis, now Atlanta, Hawks tried 70 free throws against the Minneapolis Lakers on March 17, 1956. Four days later, the Lakers attempted 68, the second-most in NBA playoffs history.

As for the "Beat on Bruce Bowen" strategy the Mavs employed, it may be ugly, but it was effective as Bowen clanged five of his 10 attempts. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

(And to those who say such a design isn't sporting, the object isn't who has the prettiest strategy, but who has the most points at the end. Sometimes you get there with a strength. Sometimes you get there by exploiting a weakness.)

Finally, the mayors of San Antonio and Dallas have made a friendly wager on the Western Conference Finals. In addition to dinners at restaurants at respective cities, the losing city has to fly the flag of the winning team over city hall for the duration of the NBA Finals in a show of Texas solidarity. (Dallas Morning News)

Rob Peterson, NBA.com

Monday, May 19


Lone Star Statement

Stopping Tim Duncan will be a tough task for the Mavs.
(Glenn James/NBAE/Getty Images)
Ah, Texas. They do things bigger there. The Western Conference Finals between the Spurs and the Mavs shouldn't be any different (9:30 ET, TNT). (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, NBA.com)

And they should be proud in The Lone Star State. The eyes of the basketball world are upon them. (Dallas Morning News)

It's too bad these teams can't get together more often in the playoffs. We understand Texas is the second largest state in the union in terms of square miles and it's not always easy to get the folks together. (Enchantedlearning.com)

From the SBC Center in San Antonio to the American Airlines Center in Dallas, it's 270.3 miles with an approximate driving time of 5 hours, 15 minutes door-to-door down Interstate-35. (Yeah, I used this same link last week. So sue me!) That's a fair piece for some to pack up the young ones in the minivan and listen to them say, "Are we there yet?" as if they had to ask a question every 24 seconds. (Yahoo!)

But there's a solution. You can fly on Southwest Airlines, the official airlines of the NBA, for a relatively low price of $184 round trip (Same-day fare! What a deal!) from Dallas to San Antonio and back again. And at 55 minutes, the short flight could be worth it. (Southwest Airlines)

Like I said, it's too bad this doesn't happen more often, not only in Texas, but in the NBA. This is the NBA's 18th postseason series featuring teams from the same state and only the fifth Conference Finals to do so, the most recent going back to, uh, last year when the Lakers and Kings met in their classic seven-game series. (NBA.com)

Still, this is a coincidence more than a trend. Before 2002's intrastate feud, the last time two teams from the same state met for the right to go to the NBA Finals was when the Rockets defeated the Spurs (Texas again!) 4-2 in 1995. Before that, you had to go back to 1968, when the Lakers swept the then-San Francisco Warriors in the Western Division Finals.

In the East, it has happened only once, way back in 1951 when the Syracuse (N.Y.) Nationals met the Knicks in the Eastern Division Finals. The Knicks went on to the NBA Finals, where they met another New York team, the Rochester (N.Y.) Royals, who dumped the Knicks in seven for the first, and possibly the last, meeting between two teams from the same state in the NBA Finals.

Anyway, the Spurs and the Mavs have plenty of history between them, especially on the coaching staffs. (Dallas Morning News)

Texas itself has a rich history of pro basketball, and it's a longer history than you may think, if you think about that sort of thing. (Dallas Morning News)

As a matter of fact, if it weren't for Dallas (Chaparrals), there may be no San Antonio (Spurs). (San Antonio Express-News)

The cities themselves, however, are quite different. (San Antonio Express-News)

And if you need an outside (of Dallas) opinion, check out this San Antonio vs. Dallas list from Fort Worth. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

On the court, the Mavs feel like underdogs who can win. (Dallas Morning News)

For the Spurs, controlling the tempo is key. (San Antonio Express-News)

Another key is defense, and the Spurs have the advantage. (Yes, this is a story from one of the aforementioned cities, Rochester, N.Y. Delicious irony, no?) (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)

Speaking of defense, we head to the East where the defenses are hot, which make the offenses lukewarm and it appears final scores will hover around room temperature as the Nets defeated the Pistons in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday, 76-74. (NBA.com)

Both teams ran into superior defensive players. The Nets used Kenyon Martin to shut down rookie Tayshaun Prince, while the Pistons used Ben Wallace on everyone. (New York Times, Detroit News)

Still, because the scores are low doesn't mean the tensions don't run high. Jason Kidd's game-winning, fade-away jumper in Mehmet Okur's mug with 1.4 seconds left is as exciting a finish as you can get. (New York Post)

And by the way, how great was the Pistons' last play? Okur thought one of his two tips would go in. (Detroit Free Press, Detroit News)

The Pistons shouldn't fret, however, even if their confidence is slightly bruised. They can borrow some from the Detroit columnists, who have plenty of brio. (Detroit News)

Finally, as for the Lakers' dreams of a four-peat, reality bites. (L.A. Times)

Rob Peterson, NBA.com


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