Let's go change NBA!

If you're a fan of the NBA, then you've got to say some kind words under your breath for the Los Angeles Clippers because everyone wants to see them playing the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference semifinals.

James Harden against Chris Paul? Blake Griffin taking on Kawhi Leonard?

Portland's own Terrence Jones getting to meet Clips owner Steve Balmer after throwing down a dunk?

But, the real joy of that series is going to be fouls. Hack-a-Howard vs. Hack-a-Jordan.

When they are behind in the second half, the Clippers will just foul Dwight Howard on every possession until he proves he can make two free throws in a row. And, the Rockets will do the same with DeAndre Jordan. The basketball world wants to see that.

The Blazers took advantage of that last year in the first game of its first-round playoff series with the Rockets, and it paid off by helping them rally from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter to win on the road. They didn't use it to any significant degree the remainder of the playoffs, but that option always existed.

Tuesday, the San Antonio Spurs basically shut down the game for 15 minutes by fouling Jordan on every possession in the third quarter even though the game was tied. They managed to take a slim lead, but then the Clippers rallied and produced an exciting finish ... which the Spurs won 111-107 to take a 3-2 series lead.

What the NBA needs to see from a game to alter the hack-a-bad-free-throw-shooter strategy is a game in which both teams do it at the same time. And, they'll look into changing the rule because of who it bothers most - television viewers.

No one wants to see a parade of free throws. An intentional foul away from the ball should be considered a mild version of a flagrant foul, which results in free throws and the ball back. Foul away when a player has the ball, but at least there's a legit reason for going at him. Simply stopping the game and making it longer goes against the challenge of the day these days - make events shorter. Baseball has done that in requiring batters to keep at least one foot in the batter's box during plate appearances.

It's certainly easy to argue there's no need for a rule change - if Howard and Jordan were better free-throw shooters, then this wouldn't be a problem. But, there's likely to always be a very poor shooter in the league, and it'll always be someone who's a frontline player such as a center. That's an exciting player fans want to see, but not at the free-throw line for being fouled intentionally.

And, the way to bring that front-and-center for the league's managers is to have Houston play the Los Angeles Clippers in the playoffs.

 

 

 

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