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By SportsNerd May 13, 2009

The second round continues so I'll lay it down on each of the remaining three series: Bad calls, bad injuries and bad nicknames.

1) Dallas' tragic game three loss to Denver actually answered a question I'd been wondering about for a while: If your team is up by three but your opponent has the last possession, why not just foul? Answer: because it is in the league's interest to have a dramatic game winning three instead of a free throw contest, and they will not call the foul. The NBA needs excitement to keep people tuning in, it needs to have plays it can put in slo-mo over twinkly piano music and claim that “Amazing” has happened. So sorry Dallas. But at least you can take solace in the fact that wasn't nearly as bad as trading Steve Nash in his prime, blowing a 2-0 lead in the finals or getting stomped by the eight seed Warriors in the first round.

2) The Rockets gave a valiant last hurrah to their fans—beating the Lakers by double digits the night after Yao crumpled to the floor clutching his knee. But reality came back in game five where they got trounced 118-78. The biggest problem is that their stars are too injury prone (T-Mac is also down) to get anything back via trade this offseason. If you were a GM would you ever give up a talented young player for Yao? For Tracy McGrady? Maybe if you were the Clippers' Mike Dunleavy.

3) The heroics keep coming for Boston. How great is it that a guy nicknamed “Big Baby” hit the game winner in game five? (Aside on nicknames: We need more nicknames that aren't the first letter of a guy's name followed by his last name. Dwight Howard has the lamest nicknames in the game right now: the bland “Superman” and the even blander "D 12" which, someone should tell him, was actually the name of Eminem's failed rap posse.)

Back to the Celtics' heroics: Role players stepped up in game six and the Celts came back from 14 down in the fourth quarter. Dwight Howard only touched the ball three times in the post during the fourth quarter and basically proved what I've always known: He won't be a superstar until he can bring it in the fourth and that means hitting more free throws.

basketball_fig6

Take this Howard quote about the pressure he feels when shooting a free throw: "You can hear the slightest little noise, you can hear people whispering...If anybody's ever been a speaker in front of a big crowd, when you're looking at the people in the audience, you can see the slightest movements, like you've got a magnifying glass. It's just like that at the free-throw line, you can hear everything -- people at the top saying stuff, people at the bottom saying 'Bend your knees!' or 'Follow through!'"

That is not how a superstar feels about free throws.
[Editor's note. Any SoundersNerds out there? SportsNerd could care less about soccer, but we'd like to have someone writing about the Sounders. Email: [email protected] if you're interested in covering the Sounders.]
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