NBA Reviews, ESPN and Turner: Breen, Van Gundy, Mark and Jimmy Jackson, Grant Hill, Miller, others

Notes and observations – watching and listening to the NBA playoffs on Turner and ESPN:

Breen, Van Gundy and Jackson sparkle

The trio of Mike Breen, Mark Jackson, and Jeff Van Gundy are by far the best announcing crew. If you want to learn basketball, watch these guys! They’re able to interject humor naturally. The best thing about them is JVG and Jackson are not afraid to call someone out and speak their minds.

The two former coaches are able to analyze games without using terminology that goes over the average viewer’s head. In game #5 between the Mavericks and Clippers, the ex-Knicks coach pointed out how the Clippers switch less and keep Kawhi Leonard and Marcus Morris on Luka Doncic and they have more success doing so. Jeff also called out the NBA in this game by saying, “NBA rewards speed and quickness and punishes strength and size.”

JVG believes that little guys flop and are tagged with fouls on plays that guys like LeBron, Kawhi or Giannis power through. He is also not afraid to call out teams, as he did the Milwaukee Bucks in game #4 against the Nets. After a turnover by the Bucks on a play that saw all five Bucks on one side of the court, he bellowed, “That was one of the worst spacings you’ll ever see at any level of a basketball court!” Jeff goes at people more than Jackson does, but the former point guard still isn’t afraid to voice his opinion.

Jimmy Jackson on Michael Porter, Jr.

On the telecast of game #6 of the Nuggets and Trailblazers series, Jimmy Jackson compared young up-and-comer Michael Porter Jr. to superstar Kevin Durant. Jackson pointed out how both players are of similar heights (both are 6’10”) and can score from all levels on the court, but it is their shots that Jackson sees as their biggest similarities.

The high release point of both forwards’ shots, plus their lengths make it almost impossible to contest their jumpers. It helps give Durant and Porter open looks even when a defender is right on them. Jackson believes Porter is just scratching the surface of his talents. But for Denver to advance deep into the playoffs it needs Porter to play well. In this game, he started six of six with 17 points and finished the opening quarter with 22. The Nuggets ended up winning the game and the series. During the sweep by the Suns over the Nuggets, MPJ’s scoring dropped. He averaged 19 ppg during the regular season but 15 ppg against Phoenix. So Jimmy’s on to something.

Grant Hill strong statements on Anthony Davis

Lakers’ star Anthony Davis went down with a groin injury during game #4 of the Suns series. These injuries are known to hold players out for multiple weeks, so it was no surprise to Hill to see him miss game #5. What was surprising to many around the league including Grant Hill was that Anthony Davis was back out on the floor for game #6. Davis did not look right from the get-go and Hill pointed it out immediately. The Suns were attacking Davis and forcing him to defend, forcing him move laterally. Hill elaborated on the issue of  groin injuries, pointing out that movement begins there. “You can’t move side-to-side, or forward or backward without moving the injured area. He had no business being out there”, Hill said of Davis, “He heard all the outside noise (social media). Either you’re hurt or you’re injured. If you’re hurt you play, if you’re injured you sit!”

Davis lasted all of five and a half minutes before limping to the locker room in pain. He left scoreless. After being listed as questionable to return, Hill said, “He doesn’t look questionable.” Hill wasn’t the only person upset that Anthony Davis was allowed to play. During the halftime show, Hall of Famer Charles Barkley voiced his opinion. Barkley said the Lakers need a new training staff and that it was ridiculous they allowed him to play.

Marv Albert and Hill put stats and emotion in a nutshell

In his final season after close to sixty years as an NBA broadcaster, Marv Albert has been steady behind the mic during this playoff run. He provided timely, contrasting and pertinent numbers, giving viewers a better perspective of what they were watching. Covering the blowout game #2 of the Nets-Bucks series, he noted that in the first quarter of game #4 between the Suns and the Lakers, LA was held to just 14 points. Albert pointed out how this was the lowest point total for the Lakers all year in a single quarter. By contrast, Brooklyn’s game #2 wipeout of Milwaukee, was a three-point, record setting fest.

Albert lets the audience know how astonishing the Nets’ three-point shooting was, pointing out that they broke the record for most three pointers made in a playoff game, making 21 of 42, at 50%. As the Bucks were being destroyed, he asked Hill whether players pay attention to all the outside noise after a blowout loss like the one they were calling. Hill said yes, they do. He added that some players check (social media) immediately after the game, for what’s being said about them.

Jefferson comments on Nuggets defense

Richard Jefferson got the call for game #3 between the Suns and the Nuggets. During the game he responded to a comment by play-by-player Ryan Ruocco who referenced a foul as being “handsy.” Jefferson responded, “No one likes when you’re handsy.” He then said, “Mark the time, 10:27 mountain time, the Phoenix Suns have taken complete control of this game.”

Jefferson also made an astute strategic point. The Nuggets were playing a drop defense against the Suns’ pick and roll. Jefferson emphatically said that this type of defense on Chris Paul won’t work because he is one of the best midrange shooters in the NBA. With Nikola Jokic dropping back, protecting the paint, Paul got open midrange shots, which Jefferson referred to as “automatic” for him. Indeed, CP3 continued to knock down midrange shots in the fourth quarter helping grow the Suns lead late.

Reggie Miller on Phoenix-Denver

Anytime Deandre Ayton can match Nikola Jokic’s numbers, Miller says the Suns will win. The biggest key for Ayton to compete with Jokic is staying out of foul trouble, the former UCLA Bruin said, while calling the Phoenix-Denver game #1.

Near the end of the game Miller called on Nuggets head coach Mike Malone to make adjustments and get his team more aggressive. Miller believed Denver settled for too many jump shots.

Brian Seitz

Brian Seitz is a student at Arizona State University's Cronkite School of Journalism and hopes to pursue a career as a sportswriter.

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