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Being a fan of the Memphis Grizzlies, I have enjoyed the season thus far. In fact, I’ve enjoyed the heck out of it. Monday night’s loss to the Nuggets notwithstanding, this team is on a roll right now. Their three-team demolition tour last week that culminated in a win over the previously undefeated New York Knicks was a thing of beauty.

Speaking of that game, did anyone else get the same sense of excitement during that first half? Twitter was buzzing with just how much it felt like a playoff game. The intensity, the high level of play, the tenacity….the physicality.

Ah yes, the physicality.

There were 50 fouls called in that game, including 1 flagrant foul. There were also 5 technical fouls in that game — which is a lot for those of you scoring at home. Even if we discount the one that Rasheed Wallace got for just being Sheed, that still leaves 2 apiece for each team. Carmelo Anthony received one, which gives him four for the season and the most in the league. Jerryd Bayless and J.R. Smith also received technicals for their little dust-up that easily could have resulted in ejections for both of them.

That brings to mind the earlier confrontation between Zach Randolph and Kendrick Perkins that did result in a double ejection.

So…what’s with all of the hostility guys?

Chip and I were discussing what we each perceived as more technicals being called than usual, and we arrived a very similar conclusion. The Grizzlies have 6 players who have had a tech called on them so far this year — 3 of whom have have 2 already.

What if this offseason’s big rule change designed to crack down on flopping has actually reintroduced the physical level of play that fans back in the 80’s and 90’s enjoyed? During the first half of that Grizzlies-Knicks contest, more than one person remarked to me that it felt like a Celtics-Lakers tilt from their heyday in the 80’s. Why? Because players were going at one another, rather than falling like they’d been shot every time contact was made. It resembled basketball instead of an Italian soccer match.

Henry Abbott wrote about whether or not the rule is working today on TrueHoop. His conclusion is that the rule is working — even if in unexpected ways. He also makes note of the fact that many players feel like the refs are not calling legitimate fouls because they are trying not to fall for the antics of floppers.

I think it is a combination of two things that has led to the “hostility” and rising tempers we have witnessed so far in this young season. On the one hand, you have players who might have flopped before that are now standing their ground. That means where players once would have barely made contact at all, they are now running into players quite forcefully — and that doesn’t feel good.

On the other hand, you have refs not calling fouls in situations where they would have felt compelled to blow the whistle in seasons past. That leads to players being annoyed by the added physicality that they know should be called. Eventually, tempers boil over and you see fights or near-fights break out.

Fortunately, nothing serious has happened to this point, but it is something worth keeping an eye on as the season marches on. As long as the refs continue calling things consistently and don’t go back to the “no blood, no foul” days of the mid-90’s where the Knicks and Heat made playoff basketball almost gladiatorial in nature, I think we’re in for a very entertaining season.

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4 Responses to Technically Speaking

  1. Stevie DanzigerNo Gravatar says:

    Good points here. Personally I’m loving the revved up physicality of the recent games. To be honest, I haven’t noticed it too much with other teams, but it’s impossible to have missed it in the Grizzlies’ games. Like you said, as long as it does not get too far out of hand and turn into the WWE, it makes the games that much more interesting.

    Not to mention it plays to our advantages given the two brick wall bruisers we have in the paint…

  2. new_skool91No Gravatar says:

    And I agree that this works in our favor because that’s how this brand of the Grizzlies plays the game!

  3. JoelNo Gravatar says:

    As long as none of our guys get injured because of some hard hit, I am ok with physical play, especially since there are VERY few players who can handle Marc or Z-BO. The Grizz as a whole are tough as nails, so with physical play being allowed, the league better watch out, The Grizz “Don’t Bluff”, and they sure as hell dont shy away from a little contact.

    On a side note, seeing VanGundy on the floor wrapped around alonzo mourning is fantastic, man I love watching that fight, its classic.

  4. TylerNo Gravatar says:

    I’m totally okay with the physical play so far. Even outside of Grizzlies games, that’s how basketball should be played in my opinion. Straight up disliking your opponent and having a rivalry is what makes basketball so great.

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