Big Ben Tuesday: The NBA Finals and Five Annoying Things about Basketball

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Toronto, Ontario: I watched the first two games of the NBA Finals, which brings my season total of playoff games watched to two. This is mainly because hockey is about 78,000 times better, but it didn’t take me to long to realize I was way out of my element when I predicted an easy finals for the Golden State Warriors.

Chewing on the mouth guard doesn’t make it any less boring

The Toronto Raptors play great defense, have some surprising weapons and depth, and don’t rely on Kawhi Leonard as much as I expected. If not for a 20-0 Dubs outburst in the third quarter of Game 2, the Warriors would be down by 2-0 heading back to Cali. I’ve enjoyed the games, but there a still a bunch of things that annoy me about basketball. Here are five of them.

1. Timeouts

Each time gets six timeouts per game, plus a 20 second TO in each half. So potentially, a regulation game could have 16 time outs! Holy Havlicek, that’s a lot. It feels like every time a team scores two baskets in a row the other team calls a time out to slow the momentum. I want to see if these guys have the stones to weather the storm on their own. I realize it’s all about commercials, but they could easily cut the time outs in half. NHL teams have only one time out for the entire game and they make it work. The NBA doesn’t have as many commercials as football, but there are still too many.

Great job. You almost made it!

2. Foul Shots

I realize that officiating an NBA game is difficult. But I think a general sports rule is that you should try to limit the number of times when intentionally breaking the rules is the best option. You get some of it in other sports like intentional holding in football when your QB is about to get buckled in the back or a hockey player tripping a guy to prevent a tap in. But in basketball, fouling is often part of the strategy, especially against poor free throw shooting teams/players. As much as possible, the game should be decided on the court during play, not at the stripe.

I realize the NBA has added some things to address this in recent years, like the clear path to the basket rule, intentional foul changes, etc. and they seem like steps in the right direction, but I’d say the NBA has a long way to go. I’m spitballing here, but here are a few changes that could limit fouls:

If a team is in the penalty, the other team gets three shots.
Lower the foul out number to five or even four.
Award two shots and possession for not just flagrant fouls, but any foul where the ref determines the defender is not playing the ball.

3. The Draw-A-Charge Flop

Again, I recognize that the charge/block is one of the most difficult plays to call. But how did we get to a place where it’s considered a good play to let a guy run into you and then fall down? This isn’t soccer. Sure, defenders need to be able to hold their ground. But only when he’s actually playing defense, not when his only goal is to get the ref to call a foul. In hockey, they call this embellishing and that guy gets a penalty too. Kyle Lowry looks like Neymar in the 90th minute with a one goal lead. They have to be able to figure a better way to call this play.

The last thing the Dubs need…

4. The Free Throw High Fives

I don’t think I’m alone here in wondering if it’s necessary to high five all four other players on your team after every free throw attempt, even misses. I don’t remember exactly when this started, but it needs to end immediately.

5. The Bitching at the Refs

I’ve been impressed with Draymond Green dialing back the whining, but there’s still plenty to go around. Players seems to protest on nearly every foul call. Then you see the replay and the protesting player completely mauled his opponent. There are very few players who don’t complain about fouls. Steph Curry screamed in disbelief when a held ball call was changed to a foul, when on the replay you could clearly see him whacking the hell out of the guy. Steph also nearly cost his team bigly with an ill-timed technical after throwing the ball in the air after another call he didn’t like.

Fred Van who?

Final Thoughts

The Warriors are far from out of the woods, especially now that Klay Thompson got hurt. But Kevin Durant might be waiting in the wings to save the day. To me, this series feels like at the end we’ll be asking “how did the Raptors not win?” Sure, I predicted a sweep, but now that I’ve watched two games I have it all figured out.

Come back tomorrow for Angry Ward, whose list of annoying traits is a little longer than five. Follow us on Twitter at @BenWhit8, @MeetTheMatts, @Matt_McCarthy00, Instagram @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.

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About the Author ()

Ben Whitney comes from journalistic stock. Aside from his brothers, rumor has that his great-great grandfather was the youngest brother of Eli Whitney and covered the earliest "rounders" games. Big Ben is also another New York Rugby Club player/pal of Different Matt, Short Matt and Junoir Blaber. He likes film noir discussions, has twin girls and took up ice hockey after retiring from rugby.

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