From Draymond Green’s suspension in Game 5 to Steph Curry fouling out in Game 6, the NBA conspiracy theorists are foaming at the mouth. The NBA, they say, wanted to prolong this series to create a ratings bonanza for Game 7 on Sunday.
Is that fair?
“I just think when you’re on the losing end of the situation, you can always come up with conspiracy theories,” former NBA All-Star and current Raptors assistant coach Jerry Stackhouse said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “At the end of the day, after the dust settles, you just like to try to say that the better team won or we didn’t execute and do the things that we needed to do to get it done.”
Stackhouse, however, didn’t always feel that way as a player. In 2006, he helped Dallas to the NBA Finals. The Mavs won the first two games at home before losing four straight to the Miami Heat, who became the third team – and the first since 1977 – to win a championship after trailing the series 2-0.
How does a team win two games by double digits and then lose four in a row? Stackhouse has a theory.
“It seems like every time Dwyane Wade touched the ball, there was a whistle blown,” Stackhouse said. “We all kind of know Mark Cuban’s history with the league, and that was the first opportunity for him to possibly win a championship for the franchise. So obviously all type of stories were going to come out of that. But I did witness it. I witnessed it personally.”
Wade averaged 12 free-throw attempts in the first two games of the 2006 Finals. He averaged 18.3 in the final four games and shot a staggering 46 in Games 5 and 6.
In addition, Stackhouse, as fans may remember, was suspended for Game 5 of the 2006 Finals after a questionable flagrant foul on Shaquille O’Neal. Miami won Game 5, 101-100, at home in overtime. Wade scored 43 points, with 21 of them – almost half – coming from the foul line.
“Just sitting there, getting suspended for a game in the Finals and having to watch it and sitting there, I’m just going crazy in my hotel room watching it,” Stackhouse said. “I’m yelling at the TV, ‘Where is the foul? Where is the foul? There was no foul there.’ It can change the momentum.”
That said, Stackhouse likes that the NBA ditched the 2-3-2 format.
“I think the 2-2-1-1-1 format is more favorable,” he said. “You don’t have to be in the other team’s city for three straight games and the space that they put between games on the travel day, I think that’s a good thing. It just gives you a chance for the best team to win and give them the best opportunity to be rested and not have any excuses. But those conspiracy theories are always going to be there. Because I was on the losing end of it, I’m not going to squelch all of the (conspiracy theories). I’m still kind of on board with some of them.”