Jason Terry's inevitable suspension is an unfortunate situation for the NBA. They simply had no choice in the matter; the wording is clear regarding players throwing a punch. And the replay is irrefutable evidence that shows Terry clearing punching Michael Finley in his naughty parts.
But there's a difference between a premeditated punch (going after a guy with the purpose of clocking him) and a spur of the moment jab that occurs after a guy sort of sits on your head. And this difference is exactly why the NBA has written a clear cut rule that is not open to interpretation. Stern doesn't want Stu Jackson to have the responsibility of judging intent and factoring provocation. Because then every single suspension ruling effects subsequent cases. If Jackson would have been allowed to interpret Terry's actions and decide it was more of a simple reaction than a vicious act, and use that as reasoning for only fining him in lieu of suspension, all hell would eventually break loose. Five years from now something similar yet different would happen, and you would have some team arguing "In the 2006 case Jason Terry vs. The Spurs you didn't suspend the defendant citing lack of malicious intent. Well, your honor, my client Reggie Evans swears he thought that Tony Parker, being French and all, would derive much joy from the double-knuckled dual titty-twister that occurred during last night's game."
See, nobody wants to see that. So Stern has intentionally tied the NBA's hands, removing all leeway and possibility for argument and discourse, which is a genius idea given the general intelligence level of NBA players and management.
Speaking of, here's a lovely quote from Mark Cuban:
He's partially right, I grew up in San Antonio and I don't entirely understand the infatuation with the Riverwalk. But, dude, your franchise is located in Dallas. San Antonio may be a shit hole, but it's no fouler a shit hole than freaking Dallas. Though I think we can both agree that Houston is the shittiest shit hole ever shat in.
So, about game 6. This is an important game, you know. And I wonder, given Terry's absence, if Avery may change up his defense on Parker. He's played Tony straight up all series (over screens, respecting his jump shot) and got burned in games 4 and 5, where TP went for 60 points on 23-47 shooting (including at least 4 missed layups). Johnson has coached remarkably well the whole series, and his team could definitely win using the same strategy of games 2-5. But I am dreading the possibility of watching Parker dribble past half-court and find Josh Howard (or whoever) waiting for him at the free throw line.
Well, this has been an amazing series to watch. Duncan has played at a level unseen since 2003's game 6 against New Jersey (when he almost had a quadruple double). Parker has definitely stepped up to the plate the past two games. And Manu is leaving his guts out on the court, as illustrated by his two huge steals down the stretch of game 5.
DAL has played like a well-oiled machine. It seems that every Spur double team is countered by the perfect cut to the basket and a quick pass for an easy score. I have never seen a team consistently get easy buckets against the Spurs. And Dirk has been other-worldly. I expect every shot he takes to go in; it's the same way I felt with The Sickness during last year's playoffs.
It feels like this series is meant to go seven games. The two teams are balanced nicely. The Spurs have the best player on the court (and though I love Dirk, Tim's defensive contributions elevate him past the German) and probably a slightly better top 3 (compared to Dirk, Terry, Howard). But DAL's supporting cast is so vastly superior to SA's, filled with young, energetic players who do multiple things as least moderately well. While SA has guys like Barry, Horry and Van Exel, who, contribute less than nothing on the defensive end. It makes me pine for the days of Devin Brown, and that says a lot about the calcification of the Spurs bench players.
Hopefully the Spurs can beat a depleted DAL team, setting up a monumental game 7 where anything could happen. And let's hope that "anything" will not involve the refs totally fucking up the game.