Surprising wins There were definitely some surprising results in the NBA this weekend, as teams that one wouldn’t expect to win did win. The biggest surprise, in terms of discrepancy between the records of the two teams, was Philadelphia’s 77-71 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night. The Spurs certainly made it easy for the 76ers, as they shot 33% from the field, while they usually shoot 47.3% and boast one of the best offenses in the league. The 76ers didn’t play especially well, as they only shot 35% from the field and only had 2 players who reached double figures in points (Jrue Holiday with 23 and Spencer Hawes with 13) but they were able to take advantage of the Spurs’ poor shooting as well as their 16 turnovers to get a win over the team with the best record in the NBA. There was another surprising win that occurred on Friday, as the Cleveland Cavailers snapped their 26 game losing streak by beating the Los Angeles Clippers 126-119 in overtime. The Cavs were boosted by the return of Mo Williams, who had missed the previous 13 games and contributed 17 points and 14 assists coming off the bench. But it was Antawn Jamison who had the big night for Cleveland, scoring 35 points as well as knocking down a 3 pointer that sealed the victory for the Cavaliers. However, Cleveland was not able to build off the momentum of this big win and start a winning streak as they lost to the Washington Wizards on Sunday, 115-100. While the Wizards beating the Cavailiers wasn’t Earth-shattering news, the fact that it occurred in Cleveland was. Washington had been winless on the road thus far this season, losing 25 straight contests on the road before finally snapping the skid with their win over the Cavaliers. Nick Young had a team high 31 points and John Wall scored 19 points and had 14 assists to help get the Wizards their first road victory this season. But this weekend definitely saw three wins that not a lot of people expected or predicted.
Heat Struggle in Boston Maybe the most important game of the weekend was the first game of ABC’s Sunday Showcase, with the Miami Heat traveling to Boston to play the Celtics. This was a game that many thought Miami could use as a spring-board heading into the second half of the season, as they had struggled against Boston in their previous meetings. The Heat needed to prove they could beat not just a good team (they had already beaten the Lakers and Magic this year) but a tough team. However, the game was more of the same, namely the Heat struggling against a tough Boston squad (shooting 41%, when they usually shoot near 47%, and going 3-16 from three-point range) while letting Rajon Rondo have a big game (finishing with a triple double, 11 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists) as Boston pulled out the 85-82 victory. What was remarkable was that the Celtics were able to win this game with Paul Pierce only scoring 1 point and going 0-10 from the field. But the Celtics were able to get good production from their bench players, with Glen Davis scoring 16 points while Von Wafer dropped in 10, while the only Heat players to crack double figures were their Big Three of LeBron James (22 points), Chris Bosh (26 points and 10 rebounds) and Dwyane Wade (16 points). The Heat’s supporting cast, the players that are left open while the Celtics defense focuses on those Big Three, couldn’t step up and make shots (including Mike Miller, who missed an open potential game-tying three pointer in the closing seconds). But whatever the cause, the Heat dropped their 3rd game to the Celtics, assuring that the Celtics will win the season series. The Heat are also 2-5 against the other elite teams in the East (the Celtics, the Orlando Magic and the Chicago Bulls), but I found myself thinking that even if the Heat had won this game my doubts would still be there. This was a game the Heat needed to use to make a statement, as they came in on a hot streak while the Celtics had been struggling a bit of late, but instead Boston showed their championship pedigree and reclaimed a slim lead in the race for the best record in the Eastern Conference.
An Announcement This is something that I’ve realized after having NBA League Pass and watching a lot of different games and teams while hearing their local announcing crews. It never struck me before but it seems like every (or almost every) local announcing team I listen to is either terrible, incredibly biased towards the home team or both. I mean, it’s understandable for local broadcasters to be a little bit more forgiving, that’s not a big deal. I mean, it would be strange if the local guys were always trashing the team they covered on a nightly basis. But there’s that which comes from watching and being around a team on a regular basis and the incredible, over-the-top homerism you hear that negatively impacts the broadcasters ability to correctly call the game. One example that a lot of people point to is the San Antonio Spurs broadcasting team, and Sean Elliott in particular. They’re loud and so obviously pro-Spurs it can be ridiculous at times. Now this is tough for me because I really liked Sean Elliott as a player, but I do agree that their style takes away from my ability to enjoy watching the game. But it’s not just the Spurs as I feel the same way about the New Orleans Hornets, the Miami Heat (they are the focus of a lot of distaste in the NBA blogosphere), the Cleveland Cavaliers (something I was reminded of as I watched the end of that Clippers-Cavs game) and even my own team, the Golden State Warriors. After this I started to wonder if there are any really good local NBA announcing crews out there. The funny thing is that I think, as a league, the announcers who do the big, nationally televised games on ESPN, TNT and ABC are much better than the ones who end up doing the big MLB or NFL games. Mike Breen, Dan Shulman, Marv Albert and Kevin Harlan are all enjoyable play-by-play guys, and ESPN’s group of color commentators, like Jeff Van Gundy, Marc Jackson and Hubie Brown are all pretty good. Plus, you can usually hear Dr. Jack Ramsay (probably my favorite NBA commentator) on the radio, and there was a time when you could hear the over-the-top but still enjoyable comments of Bill Walton on ESPN. But while I think the NBA’s national TV announcers are the best in professional sports, it seems like every (or almost every) local television crew is not very good. Now, maybe I’m wrong and someone can point out an awesome local NBA broadcasting team, but right now I’m struggling to come up with one.