Wednesday, April 27, 2005
The Case Of The Missing Frontcourt Players
"911? Yes, our frontcourt has gone missing....help!"
Butch van breda Kolff, the old Lakers (and Pistons) coach, once said of Wilt Chamberlain when he coached him in L.A., "If the basketball court was made of grass, Wilt would wear out a one-foot square patch." The needle being, of course, that Wilt didn't stray too far. All that was missing was a tent and some stakes.
Something similar, yet different, is going on in this first round playoff series between the Pistons and 76'ers.
If the basketball court's paint could talk, it would be contacting the authorities and putting out an Amber-like alert, and ordering milk cartons printed with Chris Webber's face on the side. Webber has simply been missing from the low post, offensively and defensively. He acts allergic to rebounding. He seems most comfortable 20 feet from the basket, heaving jumpers that sometimes find the basket, but mostly don't. His favorite move is a smug sneer/grin after one of them actually swishes.
Webber had three rebounds in Game 1, and four in Game 2. So that's seven rebounds in nearly 70 minutes of play. The Pistons' frontline players, Ben and Rasheed Wallace, can grab seven rebounds in the time it takes you to run for some popcorn and back. If big rebounders are nicknamed "Windex" for how they clean the glass, then Webber's new name should be "Fingerprint" or "Smear" or "Toothpaste Splatter Guy."
Bill Laimbeer used to like the outside jumpers, too, but he also hung around the basket on defense a little -- to the tune of 10 or 11 rebounds per game.
And how about a missing persons report on forward Kyle Korver, the Ashton Kutcher lookalike? In fact, maybe it HAS been Kutcher out there, laying bricks and defending Tayshaun Prince as if Korver was wearing ankle weights. As Pistons TV analyst Greg Kelser so eloquently put it after Korver missed yet another wide open jumper, "If Kyle Korver can't make those shots, then he can't help the Sixers at all. He's of no use to them."
Can you sweep a best-of-seven series in three games?