1. Jeff Green’s 3
This is best shot the regular season can provide. There’s a lot going on here. You’ve got Jeff Green in RAY ALLEN’S CORNER, making a fade away that ups Ray Allen’s Game 6er from that exact same spot in degree of difficulty. There’s only 0.6 seconds left, barely enough time to do more than an alley oop. Lebron James is Johnny-On-The-Spot with the defense, but Green doesn’t blink, hits it. It also takes a full 6 seconds from the referee blowing his whistle to when Green touches the ball (0:15 to 0:21) and a full five seconds before the inbounds pass begins (0:15 to 0:20). The Celtics used up the full legal time (maybe a hair more) to get off the play. If you look at the stands, they are vaguely empty in the Heat sell-out, as the Heat fans are spoiled.
2. Tony Parker’s Crossover
Iman Shumpert is embarrassed. Ouch. He looks like a stooge from an Uncle Drew video. This is a great set-up and crossover by Parker, but it’s really a team play (that’s completely illegal). If you slow it down, you can see that Duncan is trying to establish post position against Bargnani and mysteriously allows himself to be fronted. Bargnani turns to face Duncan. Duncan then GRABS onto Andrea Bargnani’s jersey and arm, holding him in place so that 1) Shumpert runs into Bargnani and 2) Bargnani can’t recover to block Parker’s shot. It’s like slow dancing with the bad boy rebel at school–you’re going to get felt up when no ones looking. You can see Bargnani shouting in protest as Duncan holds fistfuls of his jersey while Parker drives by in the reverse angle replay.
Duncan is the Jack Sparrow of PF’s, apparently. While the Knicks say, “You didn’t win, you cheated (as Turner says), Duncan replies: “The only rules that only matter are what a man can’t do, and what he can’t.” Wiley old vet wins again.
3. Alan Anderson’s block of Paul George
Paul George is driving against two bigger defenders. He uses the shoulder bump to create space for a tough bank shot. As George hangs in the air, Anderson comes from behind and says, “Gimme that!” He does knock George’s head with his elbow on his way down, but that’s fairly incidental “loose ball” contact, a good no call. Anderson is three inches shorter and 8 years older than George, but rises up and snatches the shot away. Epic.
4. Steve Blake Hits Game Winner in Houston
There’s a lot of sentiment at stake here. Dwight Howard visits L.A. for the first time since leaving. The star-less (for now) Lakers would love a statement win. Howard misses 11 free throws in the game, yet the Rockets are up by two. Steve Blake gets a double screen, which really just hides how ILLEGAL the first and second screen are, with Steve Nash hugging Jeremy Lin and Pau Gasol auditioning for NFL teams with his elbows out, face up, moving screen/fake cut that wipes out Patrick Beverly. This leaves Howard as the recovery man for Blake, and he is predictably late, fearing a lob to Gasol/being big/not realizing Beverly would be wiped out. Blake hits the wide open three, celebration ensues.
Once again, “The only rules that matter are what a man can do, and what a man can’t do.”
5. Thabo Sefolosha breaks Marcin Gortat’s Ankles
Sefolosha fakes the three to get the big man to close out too far. He then drives right, to which Gortat recovers fairly well for a big man. Then comes the killer cross-over to the left, to which Gortat is sent stumbling backwards into teammates. Unfortunately, Thabo misses the shot, robbing the play of its value. Gortat’s stumbling is actually a better defensive play than just turning slowly and letting Sefolosha blow by, because it forces a tough–though wide open–18 foot jumper. It is, however, far more embarrassing.