Lot of discussion today of the “slide-under” foul by Golden State’s Zaza Pachulia that led to the ankle injury (or re-injury) of San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard in the third quarter of Game 1 of the Western Conference finals, from which point the Warriors rallied from 23 points down to win.
If you missed it, Leonard went up for a long sideline 2. Pachulia came out to challenge the shot, and slid one foot under Leonard while he was still in the air on the shot. Leonard landed on Pachulia’s foot, twisting his ankle badly. He missed the rest of the game and may also miss Game 2.
The ref kept his eye on the play and correctly whistled Pachulia for a shooting foul; Pachulia gave Leonard no place to safely come down. But there is a question whether this move (and it happens all the time in college as well) should be whistled as a flagrant foul for a dangerous, unnecessary play. Jump shooters should be able to shoot at every level without fear of landing on someone’s foot when they come down. And plays a lot less dangerous than that (like grabbing someone on a layup) are called flagrant fouls.
I disagree it didn’t look intentional to me, looked like Zaza was out of position and didn’t know what he was doing on the perimeter. You see big men dive out and look silly all the time when they are guarding a guard on the perimeter, plus a lot of those big men aren’t the most coordinated guys in the world, so you get a guy dribbling and crossing them over, their big feet start going all over the place. Kenny Smith on inside the NBA was explaining this. This type of play happens a few times in each and every basketball game. Kenny showed several examples of the same play happening just within the playoffs. LaMarcus Aldridge did the same exact play to Steph Curry during the same game, and the next game he did it to Kevin Durant. Did Popovich say anything about that? Or did he say anything when Bruce Bowen had players literally wanting to fight him when he would do that to players?
I think it’s something they need to handle case by case, if it becomes a repeat problem (like Bruce Bowen did in his career) the league office needs to review and determine intent and issue fines/suspensions after the game. I don’t think it’s fair to just start issuing flagrant fouls to big men that don’t know how to guard guards on the perimeter. Then it also opens up another can of worms because if guys know they can draw a flagrant foul on a guy running out at them, you can bet they are going to make sure they get their feet or legs tangled up to try to draw that flagrant foul and get the 3 shots.
So how about the next game where Durant came down on Aldridge with the same exact play and Durant landing on his foot? Not saying its not a practiced play, but the bigs sure are on a island out defending the 3 and kinda not used to it
That’s fair and there’s truth to that, for sure. Obviously no one knows intent aside from the individual player. Aldridge actually did the same to Curry, too, in game one.
I will say, almost every former player I’ve heard talk about the Zaza one has said he knew what he was doing. Kenny is one of the only ones who went the other way and Shaq and Chuck vehemently disagreed. That’s probably more the result of his past than anything. I highly doubt Pop would’ve reacted the same way had it been another player.
Sucks for Kawhi because you’ve got to think all these ankle injuries take a pretty significant toll. Sucks for us because we are probably deprived of a competitive series.
Pop losses all credibility on saying someone is dirty or talking about a dirty play when he was one of the of the biggest defenders of Bruce Bowen who is arguably one of the “dirtiest” players of all time. Vince Carter still doesn’t like Bruce Bowen because of some of the plays he use to do to him.
Here’s just a few clips of Bruce Bowen stepping under Vince Carter. Keep in mind this is just Vince Carter, there’s been several other players he’s done the same thing to many times they complained about him, and Popovich didn’t have any problem with it. I like Popovich, but you can’t be a hypocrite and defend the “dirty player” when he’s on your team then go a soapbox about about how bad it is to do something like that when it happens to your team.
The difficulty that I see is all the step-back jumpers that are being taken now by smaller plays being guarded by bigs. The bigs have to lunge to contest, and they aren’t ballet dancers with their footwork. If they are going to make it almost an automatic flagrant 2 for coming down on a foot, they are going to have to reclassify as non-shooting fouls some of these moves on the perimeter whose only intent is to draw 3 FTAs. Otherwise, the defense is going to be afraid to contest shots. I like the modern NBA rules, but the offense has enough help. The pendulum may need to swing.