Tag Archives: National Basketball Association

LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony are free agents. What happens now?

Miami Heat v New York Knicks

We already knew that Carmelo Anthony was a free agent. The former Knicks forward decided a few days ago that he would not continue with his current contract and would test out the free agency market. Now, according to reports, fellow eastern conference all-star forward LeBron James will be doing the same thing. Before we get going, let’s all remember that just because a player opts out of their current contract, it doesn’t automatically mean that they’re going to sign for a different team. But since we’re in the business of discussing the most exciting possibilities, let’s just assume that both players will not stay with their current teams. If we’re going to get out of the way, i’ll go ahead and say that I think it’s MUCH more likely for LeBron to return to Miami rather than Melo to New York. It’s mostly because Anthony does not have much to want to go back to in New York. Phil Jackson and a new coach are there but if you’re Melo, don’t you want to win, right now? The eastern conference is really open and there are a few logical destinations. The biggest and most obvious destination for Carmelo to land is Chicago. It just makes sense. They can make the right moves, create the right space and be the best destination for a new title contender in the eastern conference. What better way to ease Derrick Rose back into his role? Melo would take a massive scoring load off Rose’s back and would provide some much-needed offense on a Bulls team that struggled to score throughout the regular season and especially during the playoffs. Where else can Anthony land? The Lakers because they have a great pick, will have Kobe returning and because they’re the Lakers. A further long shot includes my Mavericks, who will have the room and are still able to provide a stable organization with top-tier teammates and coaching. Personally, i’d rather Dallas not acquire Melo because the Mavs had no trouble scoring last season and would rather they focus on getting defense along the perimeter and in the paint. The Knicks are still a solid contender simply because they’re in New York and would provide the biggest contract.

There is also a strong possibility that Melo just scratches all of his previous plays and decides to jump on whatever team LeBron is joining. I’m more interested in what LeBron does simply because he’s the best player in the league and any slight movement will cause tidal waves in the basketball world. We need to prepare for the barrage of “sources confirm” tweets and stories popping up on the sports tickers while we continue to watch the World Cup. Is there a better chance for a up-and-coming reporter to gamble on a “source story” than right now? Whatever the lead may be, anything that involves James will be an interesting read. Just for the record: if LeBron happens to join a team in the western conference, they should just designate the eastern conference as “the other d-league” or something along those lines. If LeBron only cares about winning, he could beat Melo to the punch and join the Bulls. An easy path to Finals makes it most likely that LeBron stays in the same conference, which is why even a return to Cleveland is now in play. But can James really put away all the bad blood between himself, the fans and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert? Cleveland’s first pick in this year’s draft sweetens up the pot and makes it seem like a much more enticing location. It’s just that the Cavaliers are such a mess right now and I don’t think throwing LeBron at the situation will fix their problems. There’s also the possibility that James just heads to the Lakers and tries to stay in the biggest spotlight possible. Or what about their same-city rivals the Clippers? My mind is racing with the possibilities that can happen for the best basketball player on the planet. LeBron, for the love of everything that you’re trying to represent, please don’t make another “The Decision” mistake again. That’s honestly my only request.

My BOLD prediction: LeBron James shocks the world and decides to sign for the Dallas Cowboys.

2014 NBA Finals: Spurs eliminate Heat to win 5th title in franchise history


It’s said that to truly enjoy a certain achievement or title, one must first learn to lose. To lose means that it’s going to make that final victory that much sweeter. Interesting that it’s topic for the San Antonio because this is a franchise with plenty of history that involves winning and when it comes down to it, the Spurs are the staple franchise in the NBA. Sure, they’re in one of the smaller markets and not the big, flashy destination for free agents but that doesn’t matter. The Spurs win in a more traditional way, sort of the way a team is “supposed” to win. But since the 2007 sweep of the Cavaliers, the Spurs had not tasted ultimate success. They were always around as a perennial contender but that final step was lacking. No more. The Spurs are once again NBA champions, finishing off the Heat last night (4-1) to capture their fifth title. Kawhi Leonard, who is only 22 years old, was named the Finals MVP and is the youngest to do so since, guess who? That’s right, his teammate Tim Duncan was about the same age when the Spurs won their first title back in ’99. Speaking of Tim Duncan, he’s the only player in history to win a championship in three (3!) different decades. Incredible to think that it’s been a 15 year gap since the Gregg Popovich/Tim Duncan duo won their five titles. Will we ever see that again? I’d find it VERY hard to believe but who knows, maybe Leonard does it again? Anyways, all the Spurs players deserve praise. Because as we’ve known for years and years, it’s not about the individual player achievements for them. They continued to stress team play and team efficiency. And it’s what we saw last night as the Spurs absorbed the Heat’s best shot in the 1st quarter and then went on to dominate the game.

Just about the only thing that LeBron James could do was say “man, screw this, i’m winning this” and for a while, it looked like LeBron was going to score 70 points in the game to keep Miami alive. 17 in the first quarter but even the best player on the planet isn’t a match for the best team on the planet. Miami controlled the first quarter but fizzled away quickly after that. The difference was, and has been, in the supporting cast. Since the beginning of the series, Kawhi Leonard played much, much better but so did the less-known players on San Antonio. Where was the Heat’s lesser known staff? You know what, not just the lesser known staff. How about the non-LeBron players? LeBron (31 pts, 10 reb, 5 ast) but no one else contributed meaningful minutes. Not even the other “big 3” players Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. What now for them? They made history by reaching four straight finals but because they didn’t hoist the trophy, it’s labeled as a failure. LeBron didn’t answer questions about his offseason but at the very least, we’re having discussions about whether or not he’s going to stay or opt out of his contract. The Heat’s biggest weapon during their two-year dominance was their ability to step their game up to a level that no other team could reach. This year it didn’t happen and it’s unknown if they can even do it again with this cast. We’ll just have to wait and see. Hey, at least this video is funny again! Enough about the Heat.

This season was and will be known as the Spurs’ season. The redemption happened, and after such a heartbreaking loss last year, it’s all good. Take it from a lifelong Mavericks fan. The demons from ’06/’07 were still with Dirk and the franchise until 2011, when the final winner was Dallas and all was forgotten. The same goes for San Antonio, who tasted the sweetest of victories last night exactly one season later. Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili (four titles each now) all claimed that this is the title that feels the best. Not because they took down the league’s biggest foe, but for themselves and for the franchise and for their fans and for the city of San Antonio. The one thing that surprised me the most was how much better, for most of the series, the Spurs looked. When you take a closer look at the series, it mirrors the postseason in one neat package. Just like the opening rounds of the playoffs, the first two games of the Finals were chaotic and unpredictable. Either team could’ve taken the opening games. But as the series went on, order was restored; much like the playoffs after the first two rounds. The team that “deserved” to win, did in fact win. It’s a rare thing to see in sports. The “good guys” coming out on top. Last night was a win a team basketball and even if you’re a disgruntled Heat fan right now, one has to appreciate what the Spurs did to the fullest. The Spurs are the kings of basketball and we should all take a moment to appreciate how they did it.

2014 NBA Finals: Spurs take commanding lead


For the first time in the NBA Finals, one team has looked completely dominant over the other for an entire game. The Spurs were masterful against Miami last night, dominating early and often to put themselves only one victory away from once again, capturing basketball glory. I can’t stress how much better, free and clear, the Spurs were than the Heat during most of the last night’s game. Is it too much to say that Miami looked slightly like the the 2007 Cavs? Only in the sense that LeBron James was doing everything possible (mostly in the 3rd) to get his team back into the game, only to be answered by more excellent basketball by San Antonio. Remember game 4, when the Spurs were scorching hot from the field? Well, i’d argue that they played even better than that last night. Their shooting wasn’t as great from a pure statistical point of view, but they played more effectively as they created better looks, spaced the floor at their will and had the entire squad in sync. Did anyone else realize that the Heat’s only lead of the night was at 2-0? From that point on, it was all Spurs. Kawhi Leonard continues to make leaps and bounds in his young career. The Spurs forward once again was the best player on the court last night, showing what he can do on the court while continuing to keep his stoic, professional demeanor off the court. Even as a Mavs fan, it’s hard to dislike the guy. And while I don’t want to discredit anything that Leonard did last night, the #1 reason the Spurs were so much better is an obvious one: all-around team basketball. Since the start of the series, Gregg Popovich has maintained the same philosophy and in the last two games it’s clear that Miami has no answer. It was also a record night for Tim Duncan but everyone on the Spurs deserves just as much credit for reaching such a high level last night. Can the Heat find some way to stay alive?

There have to be some pretty drastic changes in Miami’s performance for me, and anyone else, to believe that they’re going to make this a series. The record for teams down 1-3 in the NBA Finals spell absolute doom for LeBron and co. The biggest reason for Miami’s demise? Their supporting cast. While the Spurs supporting cast has gotten better as the series matures, the Heat’s non-existent “non-Big 3” players have continued to disappear more and more. And I don’t want to hear any of this fatigue nonsense. Yes, I brought up the point nearly a month ago about Miami’s grueling four year stretch but it’s not like San Antonio has been sitting on their couches for that same period. Only the 2011 postseason was a short one for them but for the past three seasons, the Spurs have played nearly as many games as the Heat. Sure, Dwyane Wade’s older now but i’m sure Duncan and Manu Ginobili would love to hear just how “old” Wade (10 pts last night) and knees feel right now. The excuses can keep mounting for Miami but the simply response is that the Spurs have outworked, outsmarted and ultimately, outplayed the Heat in pretty much every aspect of the game. I’ve never been big on numbers but even if Miami were to somehow climb back into this series, nothing from last night indicated that they will do so. Maybe if they showed some competitive fire. Maybe if a massive LeBron, Wade AND Bosh game happens. Maybe if the Spurs decide that they want to win on the road instead in front of their home crowd. It’s going to take some extreme circumstances for this series to go back to Miami and I don’t see it happening. The Spurs have been on a mission since their heart-breaking loss to the Heat in last year’s Finals and finally, after such a long journey, they have the chance to redeem themselves. Some might call it destiny or fate but i’d like to call it the will of champions. There’s is no reason to doubt that the Spurs will once again don the word “champions” after Sunday night’s (8pm ET on ABC) game ends.

2014 NBA Finals: Heat bounce back and even series up


So much for the LeBron “cramp” jokes, right? Well, at least now we get the “finally took his Midol” or similar style jokes. Miami bounced back in impressive fashion, led by LeBron’s performance, as they win in San Antonio to steal home court and even up the Finals at 1 victory for each team. What was most impressive about the Heat last night? The obvious choice goes to LeBron (35 pts, 10 reb) during his second-half onslaught, who looked like a hybrid of MJ and Kobe for various stretches, hitting shots that ranged from very tough to damn near impossible. I still think we’re going to look at his performance against the Celtics from two years ago or even the one against the Pistons as his all-time greatest playoff performance but during last night’s game, he was even greater than those two nights. After much scrutiny following game 1’s ending, #6 on the Heat wasn’t impressive out of the gate. James’ performance was very pedestrian in the first half but after halftime, something changed and the best basketball player on the planet played like it. But let’s remember that while LeBron’s brilliance will steal the headlines, the players around him stepped it up big time last night. From Wade to Bosh to Birdman and so on. Team basketball was critical and last night, the Heat were just a bit better than San Antonio. What worked best for Miami, aside from LeBron? Their defense during crunch time. Miami’s ability to pressure the Spurs offense into playing Heat-style basketball was the biggest factor down the stretch. Tony Parker was limited in play-making down the stretch because LeBron was guarding him and the rest of the San Antonio cast wasn’t able to produce efficient offense when it needed it the most. It also doesn’t help the Spurs when, a very critical point in the game, something like a four missed free throws in a row happens. But like Miami, I expect San Antonio to bounce back tomorrow night.

Can the Spurs re-steal home court advantage? It’s impossible to predict anything in this series. If I had one bold prediction to make about this series it’s that we’re just going to see both teams trading blows. One after the other, just like a premier heavyweight title bout. Because these teams are so good, it’s very hard to imagine either of them winning two games in a row. The players and the coaching are at too high of a level for either team to gain a distinct advantage. So the only advantage left is LeBron James and last night proved just that. Can he continue to carry the Heat? Or are we going to see San Antonio force Miami into their style? Those are just a few reason why this series could be an all-time great Finals clash. The adjustments, the big plays, the critical moments, the questionable calls and finally, the potential for another arena malfunction. The story lines are endless but unfortunately for us, the series has to end at some point. All we hope for is that, as they have done so far, both teams leave it all out on the court. But is it a bit too much to ask for another game 7? The people of Miami and San Antonio certainly hope that their respective team finishes the series sooner than that. We’re getting at least a 5th game but this series feels like it almost has to go at least 6 games. It’s too good for quick and quiet ending. It’s been great early and things look like they’re going up from here. The drama continues tomorrow night (9 ET on ABC) so stayed tuned.

2014 NBA Finals: Spurs strike first

NBA: Finals-Miami Heat at San Antonio Spurs

Where does one begin to discuss last night’s game between the Spurs and Heat? Emphasis on the word heat, of course. Do we talk about a semi-sloppy, but entertaining first half that consisted of several lead changes? There’s no doubt that the Heat “heat” jokes are in full swing right now, so i’ll spare everyone that forced laughter. But when I think about it, there’s no doubt that it was the biggest x-factor from last night’s game. LeBron cramp jokes aside, I didn’t think something like a broken AC system would be such a big factor in last night’s game. Did anyone? More than bench production, spacing or the health of Tony Parker. Nope, it all came down to the fact that because of a hot and humid atmosphere, LeBron James couldn’t play during crunch time and the Spurs took advantage of the situation, turning the game into a lopsided win. The Spurs were dealing with the same conditions and were able to avoid setbacks, enabling them to finish the game nicely, with a barrage of 3-pointers that put the game out of reach. It’s actually a shame that something “silly” like cramps kept LeBron out of the game. I’ve dealt with cramps when playing sports and while they’re no joke, I think LeBron can handle everyone making fun of his for it. It’s just an unorthodox reason to miss the final minutes. Up to that point of the game, it was a complete toss up for either team. Yes, the game was a bit sloppy (41 total turnovers) but despite the uncanny turnovers by both teams, last night’s game was more or less what we expected from these teams. Match up problems were clear for both teams but like any great team does, they were able to make adjustments and better their situation. I enjoyed how well both teams played; from Tim Duncan’s paint control (almost getting a triple-double) to Chris Bosh’s effective shooting night, it was overall a very enjoyable game.

Much like this past Super Bowl between the Broncos and Seahawks, it’s obvious that the Heat and Spurs are the two teams that belong here. But unlike the Super Bowl, this series will be competitive. Miami, for many stretches of the game, looked like the better team. The biggest concern that i’d have if I were a Heat fan is, first of all, will the Spurs fix their AC system. Second, i’m hoping that the starting five can continue to carry the lead. Because of the Spurs big line up, the Heat started Rashard Lewis at PF and while the stats don’t stick out, Lewis did a nice job with the heavy minutes. Ray Allen was the only player that did well (circa early-2000s) off the bench and it’s worrisome heading forward. What do the Spurs need to do if they want to get a good grip in the series? Well, the obvious answer is to limit their turnovers. Luckily for San Antonio, the Heat were just as careless with the ball. The Spurs just need to keep playing their style and force the Heat to keep their big line up on the floor. In typical Spurs fashion, they controlled the paint, out-rebounding the Heat by 10. Couple that with their effective shooting from beyond-the-arc (52%) and San Antonio is going to be very, very difficult to beat over a 7-game series. Do I expect Miami to bounce back and tie the series? It’s tough to say. As I stated before the series began, every game is going to be impossible to predict and last night’s game epitomized that. If LeBron is in the game during crunch time, do the Heat come out on top? It’s one of the many questions that I expect will arise as the series develops. For those reasons alone, there’s a feeling that we’re in store for an all-time classic NBA Finals.

Previewing the 2014 NBA Finals

2013 NBA Finals - Game Three

Anyone else really excited for round two of Spurs-Heat? Normally it doesn’t matter, but this feels like the right Finals match up. The NBA season had plenty of headlines throughout the season but which teams were under the radar for most of the season? That’s right, the two teams that are left standing. The Heat, surprisingly enough, weren’t discussed as much as they have been for the past three seasons. The spotlight was on the Pacers, Knicks, Nets and generally how terrible the eastern conference was. Miami was dealing with injuries and generally had a quiet season, for their standards. And well, for the Spurs, it’s just another typical regular season for them. Top seeded in a brutal western conference but receiving the least attention of all the contenders. Even though, from the start of the season, San Antonio should’ve been the team everyone was was talking about. But like i’ve stated in the past, NBA circles tend to talk more about how the Spurs aren’t talked about rather than actually discussing Spurs basketball. There isn’t a need to remind these teams though, they’re focused on the prize that’s at hand.

The Stakes: Is there any reason to stress how massive and monumental this year’s NBA Finals are? After last year’s thrilling 7-game series between these two teams, it’s no wonder people are excited to see what’s going to happen one year later. The biggest difference between this year and last? Not a whole lot in terms of personnel but San Antonio’s home court advantage, teamed with the 2-2-1-1-1 format is a huge shift for the series. The Spurs have looked nearly immortal at home this postseason and their home crowd will continue to play a huge part in their success. Especially early on, where the Spurs have been able to jump on opponents for an early series lead. Can San Antonio achieve their fifth title in franchise history? They’ll be within one of the Bulls. The only difference is that the Spurs will have been able to do it throughout a 15 year gap. And a 7 year gap since their last title. Impressive for the likes for Gregg Poppovich (among all-time best) and Tim Duncan (GOAT power forward) as they ink their legacy into the basketball record books. What about Miami? Well, they’ve already joined some elite company just by making it this far in four straight years. Now it’s time to see if the infamous Heat squad can make it a three-peat. Hasn’t been done since the Lakers of the early-2000s and it’s something that engraves their name into basketball royalty. Does Miami have enough left in the tank to lift the trophy?

X-Factors: As it is with any other championship level game/series, any little thing can be considered an x-factor to some degree and the same holds true for Spurs-Heat. Let’s start with San Antonio. I’ve considered only two things that are REALLY going to affect how successful or unsuccessful these Finals will be for them. The first is their shooting from beyond-the-arc. I know, great find, right? But in all of the series, the Spurs 3-point shooting have been the difference between blowing a team out and squeaking out a win or losing the game. The second, and biggest factor for the Spurs is the health of Tony Parker. Before last year’s series, Parker was dealing with ankle issues and this year it seems to be hamstring issues. The San Antonio PG is a huge match up problem for Miami and his level play dictates how the Spurs go. Now, for the Heat, it’s a bit tougher to figure out. Can the Heat turn up the defense to another level as they have in the playoffs so far? Miami hasn’t faced a team that’s the level of the Spurs so far. I’m looking at the Miami bench to make a difference in this series. The Spurs are a very deep team but can the Heat counter with effective play from their own bench? What happens when the “big 3” aren’t very big for Miami? Someone on the bench needs to step it up and make a difference.

Prediction: Even now, as i’m writing this out, i’m still having a hard time trying to predict what’s going to happen between these two teams. In all honesty, i’m just excited to watch the series as we watch these two teams compete at the highest of level. Let’s just hope for excellent, competitive basketball, right? That’s the weak and typical answer. On one hand we have Miami, who have the best player in the world and have also had the easier road to get here. They’re the two-time defending champions with pretty much the same team. To some degree. But I can’t help but shake the fact that the Spurs were SO close to winning the title last year and they’re a better team this year. While Miami has regressed. Even if it worries me to go against LeBron James, I just feel that the Spurs are the better team. The playoffs have had a chaotic start but as teams were eliminated, more and more order was restored. And there’s no bigger indicator of order than the San Antonio Spurs. Spurs in 7.

Recapping the weekend's action in the NBA playoffs


As the NBA Playoffs have gotten to the later stages, order has been restored. After a couple of chaotic first rounds we’re starting to see that the favorites are here once again, ready to battle in another, hopefully, great series. Both the Heat and Spurs were facing a bit of questions, not quite convincing the basketball world that they were destined to meet again in the Finals. But after this weekend’s games, here we are again. Miami was a bit more effective in eliminating their foe but that doesn’t diminish San Antonio’s success because they did it in the same amount of games. And unless you’re from Oklahoma City or Indiana, how can you not be excited about this weekend’s results? As a Mavs fan, I have disdain for Miami (stemming from 2006) and the Spurs (lifetime membership) but i’m very excited to see this rematch from last year’s Finals. Have the Heat looked more vulnerable than they have throughout this season’s playoffs? Is there a more fitting team than the Spurs to stop Miami from being a historic-level team in NBA history? The Finals are still a few days away (get going Thursday night) so I’ll get to previewing it more in depth. First it’s time to see how both teams got to this point.

As it has been throughout the playoffs, the easier road was out east. Miami looked as confident as it has so far in the playoffs, eliminating the Pacers in dominant fashion and finishing the eastern conference final in 6 games to move on to the NBA Finals for a fourth straight year. As we’re being reminded over and over, with that game 6 victory, this Heat team joins some pretty elite company. Yes, we know that Jordan’s Bulls never achieved four straight Finals and we know that it hasn’t been done since the days of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. In fact, this is only the fourth time that it’s ever been done. Crazy to think that we’re watching history being made because despite their dominant win over Indiana, the Heat look about as fragile as we’ve seen them be during this season’s postseason run. The Pacers put up a decent fight during game 6. At least for one quarter they did. After that, it was only a matter of when Miami wanted to take over the game and turn it into a rout. LeBron James was great, shooting well but was not needed for the 4th quarter as the game was out of reach and planning for their opponent from the west had begun. The Heat have plenty to work on as they prepare for the Finals but for their fans, it’s nice to see them be so convincing. Even if it was just for one game. What now for the Pacers? This was the team that was supposed to be built to beat Miami. And it’s not like they have an array of moves that they can go to. Something has to happen with this team because being a constant 2nd place team in the east isn’t going to cut. I’m ok with teams playing with an attitude and an edge but only if you back up your talk with your walk. Up to this point, the Pacers have been more bark than bite and the franchise needs a little bit more if they hope one day knock Miami off their thrones. Luckily for them, most of their team is still young so there’s time. But it needs to happen sooner than later.

Things weren’t as easy for the Spurs but nonetheless, they are headed back to Finals for another year and have revenge on their minds. Here’s a surprising stat: this is the first time in Spurs history that they’ve ever been to the Finals in consecutive years. Didn’t see that one coming. San Antonio wins the western conference once again, eliminating the Thunder in 6 games after a nail-biting finish in Oklahoma City that needed overtime so it could be settled. Great game with an even greater finish. For the Spurs, Tim Duncan led the way while Kawhi Leonard earns the belt for highlight plays of the game. The history of the Spurs combines with the future, as they journey towards the ultimate goal for at least one more time. It’s almost a representation of the state that the Spurs are in. 15 years after their first title, it’s still coach Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan leading the way. How is that even possible? Saturday night’s game proved a couple of things. The Spurs are, by far, the deepest team in the league and that Popovich is clearly the best coach in the league. Think about it, Tony Parker is absent due to injury for the entire second half and the Spurs still clinch the game, and the series. As the game wore on, it had the feeling that we were going to need a 7th game but enter some big shots by the Spurs supporting cast and a couple of miscues by the Thunder. OKC played well for most of the game but as we’ve seen in the past, their offensive rhythm still lacks when it matters most. It’s essentially Durant or Westbrook (whoever decides to bring the ball up) saying “get out of the way” and going from there. What now for the Thunder? They always seem to be just a little bit short when faced with their biggest obstacle. Durant has the individual hardware but it’s come time to criticize him for not having the team hardware.

Pretty cool video of the NBA’s Basketball Without Border program featuring some funny, but cool throwbacks of big NBA names:

Spurs dominate and win key game over Thunder


Can someone help me figure out this series? Should we just annul tomorrow’s game 6 and stay in San Antonio for a 7th game? So far, the western conference finals have flipped and flopped, the winner of each game is whoever is playing at home. And each time the final buzzer sounds, it’s a large margin of victory; last night was no different. The Spurs bounced back from their two game slide and handled the Thunder in impressive fashion, winning a key game 5 as the series goes back to Oklahoma City. As we’ve heard in the past countless times, the winner of game 5 when a series is tied at 2 games each, usually goes on to win the series. But what’s been hiding a bit better is that most of the time, this occurs in game 6. Can that happen for the Spurs? It might, but first let’s get to last night’s action and figure out how the Spurs were able to turn things around in such a big way. It had to have been more than just the home court advantage, right? Not as much as one would think. I think? It’s still hard for me figure out what’s going on. I feel like it’s mostly adjustments countering with more adjustments. It’s just surprising that OKC has made just as many smart moves as the Spurs have. Last night the Spurs made a brilliant move, going with a smaller line up to neutralize the Thunder’s high-tempo game and challenging them on offense and defense. San Antonio pretty much said “hey, we can play fast too!” and it worked beautifully. Tim Duncan had the big game (22 pts, 12 reb) but it was clear that last night was an old-school Spurs’ type of win, defined by team efforts and key contributions from unexpected sources. Last night it was the likes of Boris Diaw and Danny Green. Did I mention that the Spurs shot 50% (50!) from 3-point land? The young guns of OKC were a bit taken back by the Spurs’ tactics and after the second quarter, San Antonio had built enough momentum to turn the game into a rout. Yes, Oklahoma City has tons of trouble handling the Spurs shooting barrage on defense but their ineffective play on offense is what really hindered them. Ibaka (the Spurs killer) had a solid game on defense but wasn’t able to score like he had in the previous two games. The Thunder started off hot, thanks to their stars Durant and Westbook, but they weren’t able to keep pace, something that they’d controlled but was turned on them last night. Can the Thunder defend their home court and force a game 7? The history of this series says yes. But what this series has shown us is that when we think it’s going to zig, it zags instead. Momentum is all on the Spurs side and I have a feeling that it’s going to stay there. Then again, what neutral fans don’t want to see a game 7? We’ll have to wait and see.

Big game tonight in the eastern conference finals. Wasn’t able to discuss the game yesterday because of a family affair but i’m here to preview it. I’ll be watching this game pretty closely tonight. Partly because i’m running a 5k tomorrow morning and should stay in, but more so because i’m excited to see this game. How will the Heat, and more specifically LeBron, respond at home? King James suffered through Lane Stephenson’s antics and that, combined with foul trouble, kept the league’s best player to a modest performance in game 5. What do I expect? LeBron and Heat to unleash hell on the Pacers. The Pacers love to impose their will and play a style that frustrates the other team, but so far in these playoffs, it’s come back to bite them in the ass. Can Indiana handle the pressure and force the action home for a 7th and deciding game? I don’t see it. Despite limiting LeBron to the worst performance in a long time, Miami was in the game until the final minute. It’s not enough for Indiana to just win the game. They have to impress and show that they’re capable of beating Miami on the road in a big way for anyone to believe that they’re capable of winning not just the series, but the title as well. Heat rout and join some elite teams.

Thunder roll as they even up the Western Conference Finals

San Antonio Spurs v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Four

It’s incredible to watch how things have turned between the Thunder and Spurs. Just one week ago, I was pretty confident that San Antonio would cruise into the Finals and await whoever came out of the east. Now, it’s Miami how appears to be in cruise control and it’s the Spurs who appear to be knocked back, dumbfounded by what Oklahoma City has done the past two games. The Thunder turned last night’s game into a rout, holding their own at home to even up the series as it heads back to San Antonio. It’s surprising because the Spurs are the best in the league when it comes to adjustments. Did I expect Serg Ibaka’s return to matter THIS much to the Thunder’s success? Not at all. Ibaka is a great player and the best “third banana” in the league but he’s turned this series on it’s head in a matter of 72 hours. OKC’s athleticism sticks out like a sore thumb, a needle in the back of the Spurs that they simply can’t reach. Just look at the fast break points (21 to 0) advantage that the Thunder had last night. OKC turns on the jets and San Antonio can’t keep up, their starting line up much too aged for this young man’s style of game. Where does the physical intensity start and end? Russell Westbrook of course! Westbrook’s historic night (40 pts, 5 reb, 10 ast, 5 stl) led the way for the Thunder last night, dominating from start to finish and imposing his will. More than just their improved defense with Ibaka in the middle, the Thunder are forcing the Spurs to play their style of basketball at both ends of the court. Can the Spurs turn it around? Shades of 2012 can’t help but be discussed. But this is a different team for both sides. I expect San Antonio to respond well now that they’re going to be play at home but it’s clear that the momentum is 100% on the Thunder’s side. OKC thrives on momentum but part of that is because their home crowd is raucous, something that won’t be available in tomorrow night’s game. If I had to bet, i’d say that the Spurs rebound and at the very least, make the game come down to the final minute. I mean, it’s the Spurs…right? I’m not confident about picking them in tomorrow’s game but when they’re under the radar, is when they play best. It’s a three game series and there’s no need to stress how important tomorrow night’s game is for both teams. Should be a good one. Oh yeah, quick shout out to Corey Joseph.

Unfortunately, the eastern conference finals haven’t provided us with as much drama as our friends out west. The eastern conference has fizzled and turned in Miami’s favor more and more as the series has gone on. Can Indiana force another game or will the Heat close things out quickly tonight? All signs point to a quick and effective victory by LeBron and co (8:30 ET on ESPN) in Indiana tonight. The Heat have taken all of the Pacers trash talking and turned it on them, but doing so on the court instead of off. The momentum is heavily on Miami’s side but the Pacers will be playing in front of their home crowd. They owe it to their fans to give it 100% and send this series back to Miami. Will that happen? Probably not. Indiana has shown time and time again that they can’t be trusted this postseason. Sure, they’ve thrived on being the underdog but weren’t they in that position last game? Maybe they’ll prove everyone wrong tonight but the smart money is on Miami.

I’ve always been a fan of Ahmad Rashard’s interviews. Should be another great season.

Heat win big to take commanding lead Eastern Conference Finals


Indiana only has themselves to blame. As the series has gone one, it becomes highly evident that the Pacers simply can’t match the Heat’s intensity. They clearly have no response for LeBron James. The best player in the playoffs so far has torched the Pacers from the start of the series. It doesn’t help when Lance Stephenson tries to call him out, for no apparent reason. Nothing in sports bothers me more when someone boasts or decides to criticize another player/team, when their own team is losing either that game or that series. Same goes for showboating. Anyways, let’s get back to last night’s game. Miami cruised over Indiana last night, winning from wire-to-wire in impressive fashion to take a big 3-1 series lead. I don’t think it’s too controversial to say that this series is over. Unlike the Thunder, the Pacers have not responded well to adversity and it’s very surprising to me. Indiana is a team that’s supposed to thrive under these circumstances. But last night showed that their mouths bit off more than they could chew. Now they’re looking at a deadly 1-3 deficit against a Miami that all of a sudden, wants to prove them, and everyone else wrong. Why would the Pacers go and wake the sleeping giant? I understand the Pacers are proud of their own confidence but when you’re down in the series, the last you need to do is call the other team out. Or bring up other excuses. Miami won the game fair and square. What worked best for the Heat last night? To begin, LeBron, who has improved as the playoffs have gone on, was once again in great form (32 pts, 10 reb, 5 ast) as he led Miami. Hold on, what about Chris Bosh? For whatever reason, Bosh had been slumping for Miami. Last night the Miami big man had a big game, something that’s been rare against Indiana and rare as of late in the post season. Great sign for the Heat going forward and terrible sign for the Pacers, as they try to do everything they can to stay alive in this series. With a “win or go home” situation in front of them, how will Indiana respond? If they fancy themselves as a tough team that loves pressure situations, tomorrow night’s game is where they can prove it. Because Miami smells blood and they’re ready to strike to earn a fourth straight (crazy!) trip to the finals.

At least we have the Thunder to make the western conference an actual series. Interesting turn because after the first couple of games, I thought it was going to be Indiana who would make Miami work. Now, it might be the Spurs who are going to have work a bit harder to advance in the postseason. The Spurs are in Oklahoma City for game 4 tonight, as they try to take a big lead while the Thunder are looking to continue their momentum and even up the series. Can the Spurs bounce back after being so dominant in the first two games? The addition of Serg Ibaka adds so much athleticism to the Thunder squad and makes them a nightmare match up for San Antonio. But if any team can adjust to whatever is thrown at them, it’s the Spurs with their superior coaching and immense experience. San Antonio’s guards need to play better and make their presence known inside the paint. If Oklahoma City can dictate the paint like they did in game 3, this series has a good chance of being tied tonight. The Spurs will play better, as they always do after a loss, but the Thunder thrive on momentum. Can they ride their big names again? I expect another big game from Ibaka, Durant and Westbrook as they all continue to take advantage of their superior athleticism. Will we see another big game from Tim Duncan or Tony Parker? Massive game for both of these teams and I can’t wait until the tip off (9:00 ET) gets the action going tonight.

Just because I love these mini-movies so, so much:

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