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San Antonio Spurs

NBA Playoffs Preview

nbaMy favorite time of year is among us as the NBA Playoffs kick off tomorrow afternoon.  This has been quite a crazy season for the NBA with new teams, (Rockets, Nuggets, Warriors, Nets) emerging as contenders and some of our perennial postseason mainstays, (Mavericks, 76ers, Jazz) find themselves watching from home with the rest of us.  Regardless of who takes the hardwood, (insert joke here), we are sure to get some great competition and I am sure there will be an upset or two that will have critics and gamblers both up in arms.  Here is a breakdown of how the Sports Debaters feel the first round will go down.

Heat over Bucks

Heat over Bucks

Knicks over Celtics

Knicks over Celtics

Pacers over Hawks

Pacers over Hawks

Nets over Bulls

Nets over Bulls

Thunder over Rockets

Thunder over Rockets

Spurs over Lakers

Spurs over Lakers

Nuggets over Warriors

Nuggets over Warriors

Clippers over Grizzlies

Clippers over Grizzlies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

lebron

Heat vs. Bucks

I won’t waste too much time on this one.  The Heat have the best team in the NBA and the best player in world to go with it.  Lebron James has a huge point to make and that is to let his critics, which there shouldn’t be many of anymore, know that last year was not a fluke.  If you want to be better than Jordan you are going to have to get 5 more of those nice shinny things for your fingers that they give you with that beautiful gold trophy.  The Bucks don’t stand a shot in hell and if Milwaukee’s sub-.500 record is any indication of how this series will go then the Heat will have plenty of time to prepare for their second round matchup.  We are predicting the easy sweep for Miami in this one.

Series:  Heat 4-0

meloKnicks vs. Celtics

What has already been a storied rivalry is about to get more intense then ever.  Between the horrific Boston Bombings on top of the altercation between Melo and Garnett in the beginning of the year, this series has a shit load of emotional baggage entering the first round.  Boston and New York have historic rivalries in pretty much every sport and competition, so when these two cities meet in a postseason it is nothing short of bananas.  This Knicks won the regular season series against Boston 3-1 and they look to carry their current hot streak into the playoffs.  With Rondo out with his torn ACL and Melo playing better then he ever has, I expect the Knicks to be able to win their first playoff series in over a decade.

Series:  Knicks 4-1

georgePacers vs. Hawks

The Indiana Pacers started this season on fire.  They seemed to be able to shut down any offense with their stingy defense and it really seemed as if they could solidify themselves as the second best team in the East.  Fast forward to today and the Pacers ended the season very sloppy and they have a lot of negative momentum entering the postseason.  Having said that, the only team in the Eastern Conference Playoffs that has looked worse than the Pacers in the final month would have to be their first round opponent, the Atlanta Hawks.  They will definitely deny it, but the Hawks tanked the end of the season just so they wouldn’t have to face the Heat in the second round.  Don’t you worry Hawks fans because you will not have a second round to stress about.

Series:  Pacers 4-2

deronNets vs. Bulls

The Brooklyn Nets entered this season with extremely high expectations due to their owner guaranteeing a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in their first year in Brooklyn.  They did have a fairly impressive regular season and have the honor of hosting the nitty gritty Rose-less Bulls in the first round.  This will be a tough battle for both sides and the entire series will come down to 3 points; 1) Will Deron Williams keep up this amazing stretch that he is currently on?  2)  Will Brook Lopez be able to prove that he is the best offensive center in the East? and 3)  Will Nate Robinson be able to shoot 60%+ from the floor while running a fluid offense?  Luckily for the Nets, I think the answers to those 3 questions are Yes, Yes and No!  Expect this series to be close but I feel that the Nets will have the honor of losing to the Heat in round numero dos.

Series:  Nets 4-3

durantThunder vs. Rockets

All season long there have been endless debates on whether the Harden deal was good or bad for the Thunder.  One thing is for sure, it was definitely good for Houston.  The Rockets boasted one of the most efficient offenses in the NBA and it was 100% due to the fact that James Harden separated himself as one of the leagues elite players.  Sure Lin, Parsons and Asik all played important roles, but Harden put the Rockets on his back and helped them just sneak into that eighth spot in the West.  Harden is going to try and prove the Thunder organization wrong as he will try and upset them in the first round, but the dominant scoring duo of Durant and Westbrook will prove far to lethal for the Rockets to handle.  I do feel that Houston will be able to squeak one victory out of this series tho.

Series:  Thunder 4-1

duncanSpurs vs. Lakers

If Sunday’s matchup between these two teams is any indication of how this series will go, we are in store for an instant classic.  Without Kobe, the Lakers seem to be playing with a new sense of physicality and a whole new game plan.  The inside-out game that the Lakers have gone to these past 2 games is really proving to be effective.  Both Dwight and Pau have each lead their own respective teams in the playoffs and they seemed poised to give the Spurs a run for their money this year.  Some people are calling me crazy with this prediction but i feel that this series will be going into 7 games and while I do feel that the Spurs will pull it out with their home court advantage, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it go the other way.

Series:  Spurs 4-3

lawsonNuggets vs. Warriors

The Denver Nuggets have been the silent killers this year as they have quietly inched their way into the tough fought for third seed in the West.  Denver’s best trait throughout this season was their home court dominance (38-3).  Even with Danilo Gallinari going down for the season with a torn ACL, the Nuggets still have a ridiculously solid rotation top to bottom.  The matchup I will be watching in this series is the battle between Curry and Lawson.  These two young dynamic point guards is going to be the deciding factor in the series.  While Curry has one of the smoothest strokes in the game, Lawson has developed into one of the best all-around PG’s there is.  The Warriors have had a great season and their head coach, Mark Jackson, may very well take home Coach of the Year honors, but the Nuggets are too deep and too good at home.

Series:  Nuggets 4-2

griffinClippers vs. Grizzlies

In this repeat matchup from last years first round between the 4 and 5 seeds in the West, we are sure to get our money’s worth.  The Memphis Grizzlies are trying to seek revenge for their game 7 loss at home last year to the Clippers.  Now that the Grizzlies got rid of their top scorer and go to guy at the end of games, who are they going to turn to at the end of a close game?  I’ll tell you who; no one!  I think that the Grizzlies over performed all season long and now that the playoffs are here, I feel that the Clippers will show why this is their best team in franchise history.  I expect Griffin and Jordan to dominate Marc Gasol and Randolph all series long.  Chris Paul is going to have a field day with Mike Conley Jr as well.  Don’t expect to see this series go to 7.

Series:  Clippers 4-2


Midway Through the NBA Season

seasonThe first half of the NBA season has been quite a wild ride.  There have been the typically predictable outcomes, like Miami leading the Eastern Conference and the West being led by the Thunder and Spurs, but who would have predicted this far into the season that the powerhouse Lakers would be the laughing stock of the league.  We have seen more injuries this year than I have ever witnessed in all my time following basketball and with the trade deadline quickly approaching every team is making their final panic moves to prepare for their end-of-the-season runs for the playoffs.  Here is a quick recap of where players and teams stand so far and what I feel is going to happen next.

melo paulMVP Race:  The obvious front runners for the MVP crown through the first half of the NBA season are perennial favorites Lebron James and Kevin Durant.  Lebron is having just an unreal year with the 4th highest PPG (26.5) in the league and he is also filling the rest of the stat sheet with 8.3 RPG and 7.1 APG.  His most incredible stat in my opinion is the fact that he is shooting an astonishing 55% from the field when his career average is only 48%.  Durant is leading the league in scoring (29.6 PPG) and has led the Thunder the the NBA’s second best record (34-11).     The two players that are trailing these two superstars, but not by far in my opinion, are Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul.  Carmelo is having a career year leading the Knicks to the second best record in the East and only 1.5 games behind the Heat.  Paul has help build relevance around a franchise that has been completely irrelevant throughout their existence.  Any of these four players could win the MVP without too much argument but I think it will all come down to which players team finishes the season the strongest.

knicks heatConference Titles:  The Eastern Conference is hands down the weaker of the two conferences.  That being said, I still feel that the NBA Champions will come out of the East…maybe some biased there or maybe just sensibly sticking with the returning champs.  As of right now the Miami Heat hold a 1.5 game lead over my New York Knicks for Eastern Conference supremacy.  Even though the Knicks haven’t been this good in a while, most analysts (like myself) picked the Knicks to finish 2nd or 3rd this season with their successful off season.  What most people didn’t predict is that the Boston Celtics would be clinging onto the 8th seed in the East, and with the loss of Rondo for the year they will most likely fall out of that position as well.  The surprises in the East are the Chicago Bulls, who hold onto the 3rd spot sans Derrick Rose, and the Brooklyn Nets, who since the firing of Avery Johnson have gone 13-5 for the once choked out PJ Carlesimo (If you don’t get that joke look it up), have really been showing that they are a top tier team in the East.

westThe Western Conference is a whole other beast.  There is no rhyme or reason to anything that is happening out West right now.  The Spurs are once again defying the laws of age by holding the NBA’s best record (37-11) while the Lakers have shocked the world with a sub-.500 record this late in the season.  The Thunder have been holding strong and the Clippers are proving that all of their recent draft picks as well as their Free Agent spending is truly paying off.  The Grizzlies have established themselves as the scrappy team that needs no superstar to be successful.  I feel the biggest surprises in the West are the the Utah Jazz, Houston Rockets, the Portland Trailblazers and especially the Golden State Warriors.  All four of these teams are surprisingly over .500 and they all have a solid chance of making it in one of the bottom 4 seeds in the West.  I do beleive that the Lakers will turn this slow start around and finish with the 6th or 7th spot in the West but I think the Conference for the most part is wide open for the taking.

del negroThe 2nd Half of the Season:  Before the season started I predicted that the Lakers would be facing off with the Heat in the NBA Finals.  With the D’Antoni cursed Lakers playing like absolute garbage I am now changing my prediction to the Heat versus the Clippers.  Most people are going with the Thunder but I think that the depth that the Clippers have as well as their veteran leadership is just the perfect recipe for success.  So technically my prediction for an LA vs. Miami Finals is still a possibility   I don’t even think that the Heat are a 100% lock to make the Finals.  The Knicks have had stretches of inconsistency lately but they have proven that with a fully healthy roster that they can beat anyone in the league.  If the Knicks meet the Heat, whom they have beaten twice already this season in blowouts, in a seven game series, I do beleive that they will have a chance to dethrone King James and company.  I also wouldn’t sleep on the Bulls because once Rose comes back healthy they will be considered a top 5 NBA team once again.

rookieAs for the end of the year awards, I feel that Vinny Del Negro deserves Coach of the Year for how he has the Clippers playing.  I assume Lebron will win his 4th MVP but I would love to see Carmelo finally get one.  Rookie of the Year will go to Damian Lillard and there are no questions about that.  As for 6th man of the year, it’s a close battle between Jamal Crawford and JR Smith, but I think Crawford has the slight edge.

I have loved every minute of the first half of this NBA season and I can’t wait to see what’s to come.


The Current NBA Season in a Nutshell

nba

I B N NBA FOOL!

An 82 game NBA season can have a lot of ups and downs and can often be very unpredictable.  While a lot of people don’t put to much emphasis on the early season, I find every game as important as the next and think that you can see a teams true colors right from the get go.  I have always had a huge passion for NBA basketball.  I mean I am such an NBA nerd that my family was introduced at my Bar Mitzvah to the “We Are the New York Knicks” theme song.  So in this article I have decided to take the majority of things that have been happening around the NBA through the first fifth of the season and break it all down.  There have been some predictable outcomes so far but there have also been some great new surprises.

knicks grizz

So ready for the dance that we can’t even wait! Oh really? College?? Okay, let’s just pretend you didn’t see this.

I’ll start with the topic I am most proud to talk about; the standings.  While everyone could have predicted that the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs would be among the leaders in the their respective conferences, no one would have been able to foresee who would be on the top of the East and West at this point in the season.  Right now, my New York Knicks are on top of the Eastern Conference with a 12-4 record while the Memphis Grizzlies sit on top the the Western Conference with an NBA best 13-3 record.  Both of these teams have come out of the gates determined to place themselves among the perennially elite teams.  Other surprises thus far include the great starts by the Brooklyn Nets (11-6) and the consistently awful Golden State Warriors (10-7).  The Nets and Warriors are two franchises that haven’t seen much success in their past but this year seems to be a redeeming light for them both.  On the negative end we have our usual bottom dwellers like the Wizards, Raptors, Kings and Hornets but I am positive that no one expected the Lakers to be an abysmal 8-10 or even the Rose-less Bulls, who had the best record in the NBA last year, at 8-8.  The Lakers fired Coach Brown and hired the much maligned Coach D’Antoni, who is off to an embarrassing 3-5 start.  He might be more hated in LA then he was in NY and I know Phil Jackson is just sitting back laughing.

vazquez

Greivis Vásquez de Josué Rodríguez <– hogar nombre mi culo!

anderson

Screw Anderson Cooper – this is an Anderson Keeper!

On to my favorite aspect of the game; the statistics.  If I started by asking who are the top 4 scorers in the NBA, I am pretty sure that most people would be able to guess it correctly even if they haven’t been following this season too closely.  Kobe, Melo, Durant and Lebron always find themselves among the scoring leaders but the real surprise is the 80 million dollar man who now ranks fifth in the NBA in scoring, James Harden.  Harden is proving that he is an elite scorer when he’s not shadowed by Durant and Westbrook.  When it comes to dropping dimes, no one in the league does it as well as the man I said would finish this season as the NBA MVP; Rajon Rondo.  Rondo is averaging a staggering 12.9 assists per game and had a ridiculous streak of 37 straight games with at least 10 assists until he decided to body check Kris Humphries Kardashian which resulted in him getting ejected.  The surprise name in the top 5 in assists has to be Greivis Vasquez.  You might be asking yourself who the fuck is that.  He is a 2nd year Venezuelan man out of Maryland and plays for the lowly Hornets.  Vasquez will soon be a household name and can be connecting with the Unibrow for years to come.  There are a lot teams that don’t value rebounding the way I think they should.  I mean my Knicks have the best record in the East but they are among the bottom 5 teams in rebounding so there are ways to win without it.  Having said that, I am a firm believer that if you want a Championship you need to rebound.  Someone with a team that stands a chance this year needs to trade for Anderson Varejao, who is averaging an NBA leading 15.4 RPG, because I haven’t seen a player attack the glass the way he does since Dennis Rodman.  Zach Randolph is 2nd in the NBA with 13.3 RPG and he is doing most of his damage on the offensive boards.  I feel Randolph has not been getting his proper accolades because in my mind he is the main reason the Grizzlies have the best record in the NBA.

The final topic I want to talk about is my picks for the end of season awards thus far.

rondo

A Rondo Round we go

MVP:  Rajon Rondo – I picked him before the season started and I am sticking with him for the time being.  Rondo is averaging 13 PPG, 13 APG, 5 RPG and he is shooting an impressive 50% from the field.  The Celtics aren’t nearly as good as they used to be, but Rondo is showing signs that he is only getting better every time on the court.  For my Knicks fans, Melo was #2 on my list for MVP so far.

lillard

Look at me, Damien! It’s all for you.

ROY:  Damian Lillard – I talked about this rookie out of Weber State before the season started stating that he is the 2nd best rookie behind Anthony “Unibrow” Davis.  Since Unibrow has been plagued with injuries, Lillard is my current front runner for rookie of the year.  Damien is averaging 19.1 PPG, good for 11th in the NBA, to go along with 3.3 RPG and 6.3 APG.  His connection with Lamarcus Aldridge will only get stronger and Portland will be a relevant team once again some time soon.

crawford

The best Crawford out of LA since Mommie Dearest!

6th Man:  Jamal Crawford – The 12 year veteran out of Michigan is arguably off to his best start of his career and is one of the main reasons why the LA Clippers are an impressive 11-6.  Crawford is averaging nearly 18 PPG off the bench and every time he enters the game he brings the type of electricity that makes teams more fearful of the reserves than the actual starting lineup.  With more consistency, JR Smith can give Crawford a run for his money.

lionel

He He He He. Bear with me while I chortle. Get it? BEAR with me?

Coach of the Year:  Lionel Hollins – His Grizzlies record of 13-3 speaks for itself, but the former Portland Trailblazers star has his team buying into his philosophy that is perplexing any opponent that faces them.  Grizzlies are super efficient on both the offensive and defensive ends and Hollins is the main reason why.  My boy Mike Woodson would definitely be second on my list for COY followed by the Nets Avery Johnson.

It’s been a great season so far, especially for my Knicks, and I look forward to what the nest few months will bring.  I’ll make sure to keep everyone posted.


The NBA’s Biggest Surprises

The All New JH-2012
30.3 PPG highway,
24.1 stop and go.

We are now a full week into the 2012-13 NBA season and while it is still extremely early, there have been a lot of surprising stories that have surfaced.  Here is a poll for you guys to vote on to express what you feel is the most surprising story so far.


Fined For Flopping

I’m like JC; sacrificing myself for my team and taking the punishment for their sins.

Even though “flopping” has become an NBA enigma over the past two years, it really has been around since the days of Celtics great, Frank Ramsey, and his famous flailing arms he used time and again.  While Ramsey might have been the first recognized “flopper” that the NBA had to offer, the true art of flopping wasn’t mastered until a scrawny big eared sharp shooter out of UCLA entered the league.  Growing up a die-hard Knicks fan, I had to suffer through many beatings by Reggie Miller.  While Miller will go down as one of the NBA’s greatest shooters of all-time, he will also be remembered as the best “flopper” ever.  Reggie made it an art form.  He was so good at deceiving the referees that it seemed towards the waning years of his career that he depended more on the foul line then on his natural-born talents of shooting.  Now, flopping has gotten way out of control in the NBA and it has taken from the integrity of the game.  NBA Commissioner, David Stern, and his crew have helped develop a rule that will fine guilty flopper’s and could even lead to a suspension.

Please just don’t hit me no more! Oh the humanity!

My favorite NBA personality, and former NBA head coach, Jeff Van Gundy, has been at the forefront of battling flopping and making it a penalized offense.  While Jeff has made exaggerated remarks claiming that he wanted players to be fined millions of dollars for these cowardly plays, really all he was trying to do was bring order back to the game.  Flopping has gotten so out of control, that is became distracting topics of debate on popular shows like Sportscenter, Mike and Mike, First Take and many other sports media platforms.  To me, it’s an extremely embarrassing thing when a player dives on the floor in attempt to deceive the referee and get a foul call, rather than manning up and just playing the game the way it was meant to be played.  Now, these dastardly acts will cost their makers a lot of money or even have them suspended for a period of time.

They moved so fast and hit me and ran! That’s why no one is near me – I can’t even tell if I’m on the floor or the ceiling.

While it’s nearly impossible to see every flop live, the NBA will put together a committee that will review accused flops days after the game and then announce whether or not a player has been hit with one of these fines.  Here is how the fines and possible suspension will go.

  • Violation 1: Warning
  • Violation 2: $5,000 fine
  • Violation 3: $10,000 fine
  • Violation 4: $15,000 fine
  • Violation 5: $30,000 fine
  • Violation 6 and above:  According to the NBA, “He will be subject to discipline that is reasonable under the circumstances, including an increased fine and/or suspension.”

The judges loved your disco styling, but thought your dance steps were … oh, you’re playing basketball? Sorry.

I don’t agree with the first violation being a warning, because every player in the league knows when they are flopping, so that in itself should be enough warning.  I do like the fact that the NBA said they were going to do something about these outlandish flops and now they have.  While a lot of people have different definitions of what a flop actually is, the NBA released their statement today defining it:

OH MY GOD! Did you see that?! That big bad man pushed on me an’ he was shoving an’ then his breath was awful an’ … $5,000? Why?

“Flopping will be defined as any physical act that appears to have been intended to cause the referees to call a foul on another player. The primary factor in determining whether a player committed a flop is whether his physical reaction to contact with another player is inconsistent with what would reasonably be expected given the force or direction of the contact.”

Yeah that’s right – I’m gonna fly to the basket AND fall to the ground on the same move! I ain’t wasting time waiting for someone to come near me to foul me.

If this rule was intact in the 90’s, when Reggie was in his prime, I believe that Miller would be nearly bankrupt today.  That being said, I am very happy that the NBA has made moves to fix this epidemic and I have hope that there will be no more flopping soon enough.  We can celebrate this minor victory for the league once the season starts, but for now, enjoy this hilarious video of some of the greatest flops and flopper’s that the NBA has ever seen.


The Best in the West

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Oooooooo-klahoma where the wins come sweepin’ down the plain!

Like I said a couple of days ago, if the Thunder shoot 50% or better than the Spurs will be heading home… permanently.  Well, that is exactly what happened last night in Oklahoma as the Thunder went on to beat the #1 seeded San Antonio Spurs 107-99 in game 6 of the Western Conference Finals and win the series 4-2.  The Spurs had more 3’s made, more assists, less turnovers, more steals and at one point were up by 18 points in the game.  So how did this team of seasoned veterans lose to the up-and-coming young guns of Oklahoma?  It’s easy, OKC wanted it much more.

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Scott thought Durant durable, said there would be no Kevin cave-in. Brooks brokers no breaks and is proven right.

For the first time all season, OKC coach Scott Brooks, a.k.a Marty McCoach, left his star player Kevin Durant in the game for all 48 minutes of regulation.  Durant had 34 points and 14 rebounds, making Brook’s decision look pretty genius.

After the game Brooks went on to say, “It’s an amazing moment for him to play like this in this moment, in this setting, and I wasn’t going to take him out,  I was not going to take him out. I don’t care how many times he looked at me fatigued. He has enough, and I think all of our guys have enough to play. You just have to fight through it.”

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Unfortunately, Spurs and Ducan do not.

Huge games from both Tim Duncan and Tony Parker were not enough to help San Antonio move on to their 5th Finals appearance in a decade and a half.  Duncan put in 25 with 14 rebounds and Parker followed that up with 29 points and 12 assists, but with Manu having his worst game of the playoffs with only 10 points and 1 assist, the Spurs just did not have enough.  As a life long Knicks fan, I had grown to despise the slow-tempo style of play the Spurs have had for years, especially when they beat by Knicks in 5 games in the 2000 Finals, but this season was different.  Even though coach Popovich stuck to his usual by-the-book mentality, the Spurs had a sort of swagger in their offense that propelled them into the best record in the NBA and the second highest scoring team.  I found myself rooting for them when the Knicks weren’t involved, which was most of the season.  I wanted to see Tim Duncan get that Final ring on his way to the Basketball Hall of Fame, but unfortunately he and the Spurs came up just short.

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Hmmm – coach Brooks and NBA West champions. Think there might be something mystical about Westbrook playing so well?

I am happy to see a young and talented team make it to the NBA Finals because it gives hope to all of those teams that consider themselves in their “rebuilding” years.  So keep your head up MJ, maybe your Bobcats can be here in 5 years…but probably not.  OKC will have an extremely tough matchup with whomever comes out of the East.  Whether it is Boston or Miami, Durant is going to need a lot of help from his right-hand man Westbrook.  Westbrook showed some slight inconsistencies while playing the Spurs in games 1 and 2, but then he got his shit together and played like the all-star he is to help reel off 4 straight wins against arguably the NBA’s best team.  Regardless of who comes out of the East, I am extremely excited to see what OKC can do under the biggest spotlight the NBA has to offer.


OKC Heading Home for the Series

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Back to the Thunder – coach Scott Brooks (seen in his Marty McFly lookalike-days) might have changed the future for Oklahoma

As a player, OKC coach Scott Brooks may have resembled Marty McFly, but as a coach, Brooks seems a hell of a lot more like Doc Brown by how he has found a way to completely alter the lightning speed that the Spurs were traveling at after game 2 of the series.  The San Antonio Spurs 20 game win streak seems like a distant memory now that the Thunder have taken a commanding 3-2 lead in the Western Conference Finals as they head back to Oklahoma City.  After their 108-103 victory over the Spurs Monday night, the Thunder look poised to make a trip to the Championship for the first time since they made it as the Seattle Supersonics in 1996.  I must apologize to Spurs fans around the world because they day after I wrote that San Antonio was “The Best Team Ever,” they have gone on their first 3-game losing streak of the season and find themselves only one game away from being eliminated from the playoffs.

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The City Trinity fires on all cylinders while the Spurs spudder

OKC’s “Big 3” finally played as such for the first time this series.  Kevin Durant, Russel Westbrook and James Harden have all had at least one great game this series, but this was the first game where it was the 3 of them together that carried the team.  Durant finished with 27 points on 10-19 shooting while filling out the rest of the stat sheet with 4 boards, 5 assists and 3 steals.  Westbrook came out of gates with some sluggish shooting but finished the game strong by accumulating 23 points and dishing out a game high 12 assists.  6th Man of the Year, James Harden, hit the biggest shot of the game when he pulled up and drained a 3-pointer over Kawhi Leonard with just under 30 seconds left and OKC leading by 2 already.  It seemed as if the three of them were just taking turns scoring on a tired looking San Antonio team.

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Sad Antonio old-timers day is quite a show, but has no closing act

The Spurs “Big 3” weren’t to shabby in their own right, but they had no defensive answers for OKC’s offensive attack.  Throughout the first 3 quarters, Tim Duncan was in foul trouble and seemed very slow up and down the court.  Tony Parker was able to drive and get to the foul line where he shot 10 for 12, but he had a hard time trying to find his jumper from the opening tip.  The Coach of the Year, Gregg Popovich, decided to insert Manu Ginobili into the starting lineup as he tried to match the Thunders intensity.  It was by far Manu’s best game as he shot 11-21 from the field, 5-10 from 3 point range and 7-8 from the foul line for a total of 34 points.  Ginobili also pulled in 6 boards and had a team high 7 assists.  Even though Ginobili shot lights out for most of the game, he still came up just short on his attempted game tying 3-pointer with 5 seconds left.  The Spurs are too old to try and keep up with OKC shot for shot, so they need to find a way to stop at least one of their 3 top scorers.

Game 6 on Wednesday will be an exciting one since OKC just went into San Antonio and ruined the Spurs perfect home playoff record.  Now the Spurs will have the opportunity to return the favor as they travel to Oklahoma City for a HUGE game 6.  I expect the Spurs to come out fighting hard, but if OKC shoots 50% or better, as they did Monday night, from the floor then I will find it hard to imagine the Spurs bringing this series back to San Antonio for a game 7 on Friday.


Serge’s Sharp Shooting Stuns Spurs

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Thunderous applause for Durant’s big fourth

Last night’s game 4 of the Western Conference Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder was a great one.  It was a game filled with precision shooting and high energy on both ends of the floor.  Kevin Durant’s fourth quarter explosion, where he had 18 of his 36 points, helped lead the Thunder to a 109-103 victory.  Tim Duncan’s running hook shot over the Thunders Kendrick Perkins, brought the Spurs within 4 points with just under 6 minutes to play in the game.  OKC coach, Scott Brooks, called an immediate timeout and that’s when a fire was lit under Durant’s ass.  The “Durantula” came out of the timeout with a look in his eyes that let the Oklahoma faithful know that he had the game under control.  Kevin took over the fourth with a few pull up jumpers, followed by a couple of drives to the hoop, a late game “and 1″ and a game clinching dish to James Harden for a 3-pointer.”I just want to be calm and composed and poised in those situations and make the right basketball play,” Durant said. “I just try to calm down and go with my instincts.”

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Ibaka is backa with losta basketas. Kendrick ken shoot as well.

Even with Durant’s 36, the Thunder needed a lot more offensive help with their second and third leading scorers, Westbrook and Harden, struggling throughout the game.  James Harden and Russel Westbrook shot a combined 6 of 23 for a pathetic total of 18 points.  Durant’s offensive help came from the two most unlikely sources on the court.  Defensive specialist, Serge Ibaka, or as he is now known, Serge I’Block’a, set a career high in points with 26.  The most impressive thing about Serge’s play was his flawless jump shooting.  Ibaka shot a perfect 11 for 11 from the field and 4 for 4 from the foul line, while not missing a beat on the defensive end with his average 3 blocks.  The Thunder’s other Center, Kendrick Perkins, had his best career playoff game for the Thunder with 15 points and 9 boards while shooting an impressive 7 for 9 from the field.

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Tony no tiger on the court while Timmy was in the well

The Spurs two best players, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, both had below average games.  While Parker kept OKC’s superstars Russel Westbrook and James Harden at bay on the defensive end, he could not make anything positive happen on the offensive side.  Tony shot a lackluster 5 for 15 from the field and accumulated his worst overall stats of the 2012 playoffs with 12 points and only 4 assists.  Duncan on the other hand, had a very good offensive output for the Spurs with 21 points and 8 rebounds on 9 of 17 shooting.  Duncan’s issues came on the other end where he couldn’t find a way to stop Ibaka or Perkins.

With Oklahoma’s new-found offensive weapons, what will the Spurs do to avoid being only the 15th team in NBA history to lose a best-of-seven series after being up 2-0?  Luckily for San Antonio they have arguably one of the greatest coaches ever in Gregg Popovich.  I have no doubt that the Spurs will pick up a game 5 victory on their home court Monday night.