while eating a Bastardly Certified lunch by Bowser0
Where do I even begin to discuss last night’s game? We’ll defer to LeBron James on this one, quoted as saying “It’s by far the best game I’ve ever been a part of,” after his triple-double performance led the Heat to a crazy victory in overtime. As always in these situations, I have to ask: was this more of a Spurs loss or a Heat win? All signs point to the fact that the Spurs had this game, had it on two occasions. First it was during the 3rd quarter, holding a 12 point lead with only 1 minute left in the quarter and a chance to really put a strangle on the game in the 4th. The second time was of course in the final minute following two incredibly clutch plays by Tony Parker who, up to that point, was having a less than stellar game. I thought to myself “Wow…that’s the game, Parker has the MVP” but then all hell broke loose and like the rest of the series, no one could predict what happened. Poor Kawhi Leonard, he had the dunk of the night right over (one shoe) Mike Miller but couldn’t complete the two most important points of the night. Then the game essentially came down to a couple of offensive rebounds by Miami, resulting in massive 3s by both LeBron and Ray Allen. Allen’s 3 to tie the game was the most clutch shot of the year.
From Tim Duncan’s incredible first half (feels like a wasted effort now) to LeBron’s choice to ignore his headband and essentially go beast mode in the 4th quarter. An incredible game all around but a part of me can’t help but feel that it was the Spurs best opportunity to win the series. Can the Spurs win game 7 on the road? History says they can’t, the last time a team to win the NBA title on the road in a game 7 was the Washington Bullets in 1978. But I can’t put anything above this Spurs team. Or above this series because it’s simply been too unpredictable and every game has something new in store for the fans. Neither team can win two in a row. If the Spurs want to win the game, they’re going to have to set the tone early. Oh yeah, Manu Ginobili: stop turning the ball over at the most critical points in the game. Was Ginobili fouled on that final possession in the lane with a couple of seconds left in OT? Probably but I know this league too well to not expect the officials to make a call there. Certainly more of a foul than the Chris Bosh block to the end the game on the desperation 3 by Danny Green. I’m sticking with my prediction (winner of game 6 wins the series) but at the same time, i’ve learned that the sky is the limit for this series.
while eating a Bastardly Certified lunch by Bowser0
Can anyone correctly predict what’s going to happen in this series? It’s been back and forth, neither team can win twice in a row. So are things going to change now that the Spurs are one win away? The Spurs looked brilliant on offense last night. Especially towards the end of the 3rd quarter and heading into the 4th when Miami was making their comeback but then the next thing you know, San Antonio is up by nearly 20. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker were great, Danny Green (breaking records) and Kawhi Leonard shot incredibly well but the difference this game was Manu Ginobili. Much like Wade before game 4, Ginobili was facing heavy criticism for being pretty much a non-factor this series. The Spurs shooting guard (back in the starting five) responded with a 24 point, 10 assist performance. Maybe he spoke to Lionel Messi before the game? Whatever the case was, last night Ginobili looked like the all-star guard from the years past.
Miami didn’t have a terrible performance last night, they managed to score over 100 points, but their defense was questionable throughout the game. Ray Allen’s defense on Green was frustrating to watch. And while LeBron had a nice stat line (25 pts, 6 reb, 8 ast), he did look frustrated because the Spurs made it difficult for him to score. So now the burning question is: how will the Heat respond with their back against the wall? Bryan’s Lakers were able to win the title after losing game 5 back in the 2010 Finals but even then, the numbers back the Spurs. Even without the fact that they’re so good at closing out a series on the road. Game 6 has all the makings of a crazy LeBron performance (down 2-3 against Boston last year) because as we’ve seen all year long, Miami is at it’s best after a critical loss. It’s just been so rare to see them lose this often as of late. I’m going with the Spurs because they have the experience and type of team that will close out a series but I can’t wait to see how this Heat team responds on their home court.
Once again, after a critical loss, the Heat respond in their usual fashion and win the following game by a significant margin. Game 4 actually looked like a pretty even game until the 4th quarter when the Heat were led by their two best players and finished strong to tie the series at 2-2. Where did this Dywane Wade come from? Wade had been pretty bad throughout the series, making people wonder just how serious his injury is or if he’s closer to the end of his prime than was predicted. LeBron was also great (33 pts, 11 reb, 4 ast) but Wade stepping up (32 pts) to answer the critics was the difference for Miami. Even though the Spurs came out strong to start the game (8 point lead in the 1st) it was the Heat controlling the rest of the game, mostly with their defense. Miami was able to force some bad shots by San Antonio and couple that with Tony Parker’s limited action in the second half meant all the momentum was on the Heat’s side. Parker had a great first half, slicing the Heat’s defense but the second half was a different story as the point guard went scoreless after halftime. The fourth quarter was entirely Miami’s and the Spurs’ supporting cast wasn’t able to do anything to stop the Heat’s offense.
So it’s apparent that Parker’s hamstring injury is going limit him but who else on the Spurs is going to step up? That’s probably the biggest question for San Antonio heading into a massive game 5 on Sunday. You’ll hear it all weekend: the team who wins game 5 will in the series. Now, it’s not a forgone conclusion but the math (83% success rate) certainly backs the team who is victorious. So which team has the advantage heading into Sunday’s game? Well momentum favors the Heat but as we’ve seen in this series, there hasn’t be a team to win two in a row. Both teams are trading punches and are showing that they can win it all, it’s just a matter of which team steps it for that particular night. Before the series started, I thought it was going to a deciding 7th game and that certainly holds true. It’s going at least six and i’m glad that we’re seeing such a great series so far. Even if most of the games have been won by large margins, it’s still obvious that these are the two best teams in basketball and bringing their “A” games. I’m going with the stats on this one and saying that the winner of game 5 will win the series but we’ll have to wait and see.
Side note: Forgive me for not posting after game 3. It was certainly worth discussing but unfortunately i’m dealing with a family emergency at the moment. I’ve already informed Moe that my availability for the rest of the series is questionable at this time but i’m trying to remain positive. I appreciate the patience.
The Heat bounced back nicely, even if it did take them until the 3rd quarter to assert their dominance. The Miami Heat used a strong second half to blow out the Spurs, evening the series at 1 before it heads back to San Antonio. Things looked pretty even for the first half, neither team looked like the more confident team. Even though LeBron James ended up with a great game (17pts, 8reb, 6 ast) it wasn’t until the 3rd quarter that he looked dominant. And even then, he wasn’t the Heat’s leading man scoring wise. Mario Chalmers (19 pts) led Miami’s scoring and his pick-n-roll with LeBron really seemed to throw the Spurs off. That and Miami’s defense on the Spurs’ most important players. The Heat double teamed Tony Parker (13 pts, 5 ast) very effectively, forcing him into some uncharacteristic mistakes on offense. In fact the entire Spurs team was off, committing 17 turnovers after just 4 in the first game. Tim Duncan almost put up yet another double-double but wasn’t very effective on offense, going 3 for 13 from the field. That was in part due to Miami offense but one can’t help but notice that maybe Duncan’s age is preventing him from being consistent on a nightly basis. The Spurs supporting cast (i’m looking at you Ginobili) has to play better when the Heat attempt to play lock-down defense.
Great defense? LeBron’s block on Duncan looked like it was going to be his best defensive play of the night. But then LeBron’s block on Thiago Splitter happened and well, i’m sure the internet memes are flowing as I write this. It’s the type of play that’s going to be remembered as the Finals go on, much like Tony Parker’s buzzer beater in game 1. So each team has a memorable play for a top 10 and each team has a win as the series heads back to San Antonio for three in a row. Does anyone actually like the 2-3-2 format of the Finals? I know it’s supposed to be for “travel reasons” because of the distances between cities in each conference but the Spurs played the Warriors this year, a much longer trip than Miami. The NBA needs to change the Finals to match the rest of the playoffs. Anyway, as the series heads back to Texas, did Miami steal all the momentum from the Spurs? A 1-1 split is usually very much accepted by the road team but how did such a big loss affect San Antonio? It’s going to be interesting how a very well coached and experienced team like the Spurs responds when it’s home for a good while. For some reason I have a feeling this series goes 7 games but it’s a bit early to tell so we’ll have to wait and see.
Jason Kidd retired from the NBA last week and will finish as one of the best point guards of all time. Here’s a look back at his career:
while eating a Bastardly Certified lunch by Bowser0
As last night’s game was going on, I couldn’t help but feel that Spurs were just waiting for the right moment to strike. Taking the Heat’s punches with the type of poise that you’d expect from a rested, experienced veteran squad that has been there and done that. Sure, it’s been six years since the Spurs were in the Finals but it looked like another routine win last night. LeBron’s triple-double wasn’t enough for Miami as San Antonio used a strong 4th quarter to come from behind and steal game 1 of the Finals. The Spurs actually showed a bit of rust, not rest, during most of the 1st quarter but Miami wasn’t able to completely take control of the game. Tim Duncan started 0 for 5 from the field but then bounced back greatly, finishing with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Duncan was the anchor for the Spurs but the spark was clearly Tony Parker and even though Parker’s stat line (21 pts, 6 ast) wasn’t great, he was a match up nightmare for the Heat all night long. Anytime the Heat were trying to extended their lead (up by 7 in the 3rd) there was Parker, making a big play to keep the Spurs in the game. Honestly, I have no idea how Parker got this shot off to clinch the game. Then came the 4th quarter and the Spurs experience took over while Miami seemed a bit fatigued, looking every bit like a team that had just been through a tough 7-game series.
So what must the Heat do to avoid a deadly 0-2 hole? For starters, Chris Bosh can’t be taking 3-point shots from that part of the arc in a clutch situation. If i’m on defense, I can live with Bosh shooting a 3 from anywhere that’s not the corner of the floor. LeBron certainly did everything that he could (18 pts, 18 reb, 10 ast) but when it came to the 4th quarter, he had very little support. Dwyane Wade actually had a good game up to that point but was held to 0 points in the 4th while Bosh only had 2 in the period. Was fatigue the greatest factor for Miami during that period? The Spurs make teams work for the points and don’t beat themselves. Yes, San Antonio had a bit of luck with that Parker shot but then again, the Spurs put themselves in the lead on that possession. Miami was leading throughout the game but when it mattered most, the Spurs experience and their superior coaching was evident. If I had to bet, i’d say that Miami bounces back but it’ll be interesting how they do it. Will we see a masterful performance by LeBron? This series has the potential to be a classic one. Stay tuned.
I love these micro-movies that the NBA has on their YouTube channel. I just wish they’d do them for the conference finals or even earlier in the playoffs.
Is everyone done making fun of Justin Bieber and his ultimate douchebag look at the game? Alright, onto some actual sports. The Heat were simply dominant last night in their win over the Pacers. It’s the kind of performance that makes people realize why they were the favorites entering the playoffs. Instead of saying “Hey LeBron, carry us” the Miami Heat used effective team basketball on offense and defense to completely control the game. Even after Miami was down after the 1st quarter, it still felt like their game and their night. The Heat’s game plan to essentially take out Indiana’s two best players worked to perfection and by halftime, the Heat had a commanding lead that they never let go. Miami’s swarming techniques completely threw Indiana’s game off, forcing them into foul trouble and costly turnovers. Indiana is already a turnover-prone team but with Miami’s added pressure it caused a hole that was too tough to get out of. LeBron was great once again (32 pts, 8 reb, 4 ast) but his defense on Paul George was very impressive, keeping the George (7 pts, 7 reb) to pedestrian numbers. George eventually fouled out but it was also Hibbert who was battling foul trouble all game. Hibbert’s 5th foul (such a silly foul) with about 2 minutes left if in the 3rd quarter made me say to myself yup, this game is over. The other massive factor was Dwyane Wade coming back from the dead (21 pts, 9 reb) and putting up a good performance after much scrutiny the past couple of days.
Big pat on the back to the Pacers because before the playoffs began, I don’t think anyone predicted that the Pacers would go 7 games against the Heat. Of course there are plenty of “what ifs” starting with game 1. What if Indiana doesn’t play terrible defense on that final play in overtime? What if Hibbert was in during that play? Pacers fans probably feel they should have taken this series in 6 games. Then again, Heat fans (they have real fans, right) probably feel that Miami had chances to end this series earlier as well. But that’s how close this series was. Even if the final game didn’t indicate it. Certainly one wishes that it had ended more dramatically but it was a great series to watch and certainly worthy of going to a 7th game.
Now it’s on to the NBA Finals where the Spurs have been waiting for this Miami team, resting and planning to take down the champs. For myself, it’s a worse case scenario. I’ve never been shy about my dislike towards certain teams but these are my two least favorite teams in the entire league. The Heat from the ’06 finals and the Spurs from the beginning of time. But from a pure basketball point of view, it’s going to be a great series with plenty of story lines. While I can honestly say that I don’t have a preference on who wins the title, i’m just hoping that it’s a great series that will be remembered for a long time.
Before the NBA playoffs begin every year, I always hope two things happen: First, I hope a player takes advantage of the moment and step his game up for the rest of the sports world to watch in admiration. Stephen Curry assumed that role with his shooting skills over the two series that he was a part of. The other thing I always hope to see is a game 7. The deeper in the playoffs the better but i’ll take a game 7 at any point in the postseason. I thought we were going to finish without seeing a 7th game but luckily for us, we have the Heat and Pacers going the distance. Fighting for the eastern conference title and a date with the Spurs for a chance to win it all. Despite seeing them play each other for the past week and a half, I have no idea who is going to win this game. My gut feeling is to go with Miami because they’re simply the better team and at their best have been better than the Pacers’ best. Then I think about how well the Pacers match up against the Heat, neutralizing every single player not named LeBron James. Will it take another super human performance by LeBron in order for the Heat to win tonight’s game? Wade and Bosh have been mediocre in the series overall and in the last game combined for only 15 points. Or will the Pacers once again find a way to use their advantages and pull out a victory? Paul George has been great and Roy Hibbert’s size advantage has been evident throughout the series.
Speaking of Roy Hibbert, he’s certainly been the topic of discussion in these past couple of days. Hibbert’s wallet is now $75k lighter after using inappropriate language during a post game news conference. His first comments included saying “y’all motherf—rs don’t watch us play throughout the year” but what really got attention was when he was questioned about his defense on LeBron. Hibbert used the phrase “no homo” and it really got some attention. He has since apologized, issuing a statement through the Pacers organization. I’m not going to sit here and explain whether or not I feel that the phrase is offensive, that’s my personal opinion and everyone has their own. The point is that both things (cussing and slurs) are things that shouldn’t be said in a professional environment. We all have our moments of saying things that we shouldn’t but it’s no excuse. You’re paid like a professional so act like a professional. Some people were saying that Hibbert should be suspended for tonight’s game but I think the fine and the amount fined was appropriate. Let’s move on and watch some good basketball tonight.
Lastly, I just wanted to thank Grant Hill. He announced his retirement before game 6 and it’s going to be sad to see him go. Fun fact: my father, to this day, says that if Hill didn’t get injured so much then he would have finished as the greatest player of all time. Hill certainly had the potential to be among the best players of all time and might go down as the biggest “what if” player the league has ever seen. You have to commend his efforts to continue to be in the league despite not being anywhere near the same player after that first ankle injury. Great career.
while eating a Bastardly Certified lunch by Bowser0
We’ve heard the statistic so much that it’s simply part of the conversation when a massive game 5 happens. The team who wins game 5 (when the series is tied at 2) goes on to win the series 86% of the time. Sure, momentum and confidence has a lot to do with the trend but it comes down to simple math. Miami only has to win 1 of 2 while Indiana has to win two in a row. That’s going to be a tall order for this Pacers team because of how well the Heat was able to turn it on last night. A strong 3rd quarter, led by LeBron, was the difference as Miami takes a 3-2 series lead in a critical 5th game. Things were physical throughout the game but especially early on, we all saw the Hansbrough-Birdman scuffle that happened during the 2nd quarter. It seemed to fit the Pacers more as they played a much better game in the first half and had the lead going into the locker room. Then what happened? Well, apparently Juwan Howard of all people gave a halftime speech and LeBron followed it up with his own version, most of his having to be blurred out by TNT. The result was a 3rd quarter that was simply a spectacle to witness, especially during the final 5 minutes or so when LeBron (30 pts, 8 reb, 6 ast) went into” beastmode” and absolutely dominated the Pacers.
At the same time LeBron was doing his MVP thing, the Pacers were finding it very difficult to get anything going on offense. Part of it was the Heat’s ability to turn it on defensively but the biggest reason was the terrible play by Hill and Stephenson. If the Pacers want to extend this series to a 7th game, their guards must play better. Better would be good but even mediocre play would be improvement from last night’s performance when the Indiana guards combined for five points. Quite the drop off from 39 points in the previous game. Hibbert could have rebounded a bit better last night but his offense is on point. Paul George was great once again (27 pts, 11 reb, 5 ast) continuing to do his best to try and offset whatever LeBron performance arises. Also, I think Udonis Haslem needs to be getting more praise because he was very critical to Miami’s 3rd quarter success where they clinched the game and essentially, the series. I don’t think the Pacers can come back 2-3 with one of those games on the road. I’m hoping for a 7th game, mostly because we all love game 7s but I think either way we’re headed to a Spurs-Heat series in the Finals. Essentially a Mavericks fan’s worst nightmare.