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Posts tagged “NBA Finals

Super Mario and the Heat Are One Game Away

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Big 3 look good, but Mario is the real chalmer.

It wasn’t Lebron James, it wasn’t Dwayne Wade and it wasn’t Chris Bosh, so who pushed the Miami Heat to a 104-98 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in game 4 of the NBA Finals?  His name is Mario Chalmers and he was absolutely marvelous.  When the Heat were down and needed a place to turn, Mario took a note out of Russel Westbrook’s book and focused more on scoring rather than passing.  Now that is not typically the mentality you want from your starting point guard but there are many times when it is effective.  Chalmers scored 25 points which was only 1 point behind James for their team high.  There were times late in the game where Chalmers looked as dominant as he once did when he played for the Kansas Jayhawks.

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West broke without Westbrook

OKC came out to a blazing start and seemed to have complete control over the game.  Unfortunately for the Thunder, they really only had one player show up and that was Russel Westbrook.  Westbrook had a performance that I can only describe as one of the most impressive offensive outbursts I have ever seen in an NBA Finals game.  Russel had a stat line of 43 points, including 17 in the fourth, and 7 rebounds and 5 assists.  Westbrook’s PIC (Partner in Crime), Kevin Durant, seemed a little flat during the game and although he finished with 28 points he never seemed to make the big shot that shifted momentum back into the Thunder’s favor.  Sixth man of the year, James Harden, was pathetic all game and if he doesn’t turn it around then the Thunder have absolutely no chance to beat Miami Thursday.

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It took a while but I found the definition of Referee that seems to fit: “a person who is willing to testify to the character or capabilities of someone”. So not necessarily someone who judges play, but a character reference for Lebron.

Now I don’t like making excuses, especially in the Finals, but something is getting out of hand.  The refereeing in this series as well as every one of Lebron James’ series, has been inconsistent and unfair.  Westbrook had 43 points, he took 18 shots from within the painted area and seemed to get hacked nearly every time.  He accumulated 3 foul shots.  Lebron and Wade had 51 points combined, they took a total of 17 shots from within the painted area and got to the line 17 times.  That stat seems a little off because there is no way the calls can be that lopsided.  OKC went to the foul line the second most amount of times out of every team in the NBA during the regular season but only made it there 16 times in game 4.  That is a fucking joke because the refs seem to cradle Lebron James’ testicles in their hands as he hacks players without whistles on a regular basis.  Even my PIC, NYBobby, called me during the game to say he noticed what I and the basketball world have been saying all year.

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Despite obvious help from refs, James still manages to be the best B-baller on his own.

ESPN analyst Steven A. Smith has been criticizing the refereeing all playoffs long and said this morning that one of the reasons that Durant is getting the shit end of every call this series is because he is too skinny.  That really pisses me off because with that logic I should be in the NBA because my fat ass would be getting every call in my favor.  Now I will stop bitching about the refs and give some credit where credit is due.  Lebron James is the best player in the world.  He can dominate whenever he wants and in game 4 he even proved that he can score without being able to use his legs.  Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after the game that James was cramping because he was dehydrated.  Well Erik, maybe you should grab the man a cup of water once in a while because he is about to win you your first of many undeserved championships.  The series seems to be slipping away from OKC and now Thursday’s game will determine if these two teams are going to travel back to Oklahoma.  If OKC can win Thursday then its anyone’s series from there on.

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The Fundamentals Are Not So Fun

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My, am I excited! This might really happen.

Last night was the perfect description of what Pat Riley and the Heat organization envisioned when they put together their team of all-stars in 2010.  Fluid ball movement and precision passing for easy baskets inside the paint is the only way Miami can succeed and they did it nearly flawlessly last night in their 91-85 victory.  Led by 29 points and 14 rebounds from James, Miami found different ways to hurt the Thunder throughout game 3 of the NBA Finals last night.   Wade, although he had a poor shooting performance, finished the game with 25 points and 7 boards and 7 assists, which was without question his best game of the Finals thus far.  Chris Bosh also provided his second straight double-double since being reinserted into the starting lineup that seems to have the Thunder flustered.

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This James was just not up to the task that the other James was.

So where did the Thunder go wrong last night?  Durant finished with a respectable 25 points with over 50% shooting, while Russel Westbrook added a hard-fought 19 points.  The key missing piece to the puzzle was James Harden.  The sixth man of the year shot a pathetic 2-10 from the floor and finished with a dismal 9 points.  The Thunder can not beat the Heat in Miami without the spark off the bench that has made them such a formidable team throughout the year.

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Not since Alan Ladd has a Shane been this heroic
[if you are not over 50 you probably don’t get this reference]

The loss might also be attributed to the fact that Shane Battier, Miami’s former sixth man but now starter, is having one of the best 3-point shooting Finals of all time.  Through the first three games of the series Battier has made at least four 3-pointers.  No one in the NBA has done that in four straight finals games since Dennis “3D” Scott did it back in 1995 for Florida’s other team, the Orlando Magic.  It’s amazing because Battier is coming off career lows for field goal percentage as well as 3-point percentage, but he has absolutely been Miami’s x-factor this series.  I’m sure NYBobby is thrilled with my shout out for Shane based solely on the fact that I am a UNC Tar Heels supporter, while he goes for their rivals the Duke Blue Devils, Battier’s alma mater.

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Erik?

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Erik?

Maybe the reason that the Thunder lost isn’t because Miami’s “Big 3” got their shit together, or because James Harden was building a house with his bricks last night, or because Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra has a striking resemblance to a Tarsier Monkey from his native lands of the Philippines (I don’t know why I feel the need to trash him, but I do).  Maybe the reason the Thunder lost is based solely upon their lack of execution when it comes to basketball fundamentals.  OKC shot an out-of-character 15-24 from the foul line and committed 6 fourth quarter turnovers.  They also finished the game with a minuscule 11 assists on 33 field goals made.  While the Thunder went most of the season lacking an assist man, they were also the best foul shooting team and they committed the second fewest turnovers, so these two stats are inexcusable.  If OKC has any hope of making it out of Miami alive then they better get their act together. And maybe Scott Brooks shouldn’t ever have his two best players, Westbrook and Durant, on the bench for the same time for 5 minutes like he did at the end of the third quarter where Miami made their comeback.

P.S.  NBA referees please know that it is acceptable to call fouls on Lebron James!


Miami Gets Away With Murder

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Big 3 had 3 big quarters, and just enough in the 4th

In a thrilling NBA Finals game 2, the Miami Heat were able to hold on to be the first team this postseason to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder on their home court.  With a 100-96 victory against OKC, the Heat travel home tied 1-1 in their best-of-seven series.  Miami came out firing on all cylinders and scored from wherever and whenever they wanted to.  Dwayne Wade found his shot early and Shane Battier once again proved why he was one of the better off-season pickups by draining three quick 3-pointers.  Lebron was dishing with ease and Chris Bosh manhandled both Perkins and Ibaka for the first 3 quarters.  The Heat led by as many as 17 points and looked as if they were going to run away with the game.

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Let’s see – 4 quarters and 48 minutes. If we play 46 great minutes, is that enough?

That’s when Lebron James got to enjoy his favorite part of every game, the fourth quarter.  As if it were rehearsed, the Thunder cut Miami’s 13 point lead down to 4 with just 5 minutes running off the clock.  It was quite incredible the way that Kevin Durant and Russel Westbrook were able to tear apart a defense that was able to keep them relatively quiet through three quarters.  Durant’s performance was even more impressive with the fact that he was playing with 5 fouls with just over 11 minutes remaining in the game.  Lebron James had an overall great game and he seemed to be the little life the Heat had in the fourth, but he was nearly not enough.  Wade looked as if he was nonexistent towards the end of the game and Scott Brooks seemed to devise a defensive plan that completely took Miami out of their rhythm.

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Take a look kid – that’s what home looks like with a loss. It ain’t pretty.

The Thunder kept chipping away and it started to look like Miami was losing control.  With their lead cut to 3, Lebron took the ball and made a beautiful fade away bank shot over Thabo Sefelosha with just under 96 seconds remaining.  After a clutch three pointer by Durant followed by the stereotypical missed three by Lebron in the closing seconds, the Thunder possessed the ball just under 20 seconds.  Westbrook quickly got the ball into the fiery hot hands of Durant.  Durant made a stylish cross over dribble and pulled up for a routine 12-foot jumper when Lebron seemed to have raked his arm and leg for what should have been a foul call.  Unfortunately for the Orange and Blue, the whistle wasn’t blown and Miami gained possession and the win.

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To the victor go the Spoelstras.

The most impressive play for Miami was probably from the newly inserted into the starting lineup Chris Bosh.  With 16 points and 15 rebounds, Bosh finally provided those big man numbers that the Heat have been missing all playoffs.  Even with Bosh and Battier having great games and Lebron and Wade both filling the stat sheet as usual, the Heat still almost found a way to lose.  Mr. Inconsistency, a.k.a Erik Spoelstra, couldn’t find a single lineup that worked in the fourth quarter and like usual seemed to defer all of his decisions to King James.  Well Spoelstra, it seems as if your brilliant coaching tactics have once again led Miami to a victory.  I would like to thank the NBA referees for once again proving their infatuations with Lebron James.


NBA Finals Preview: Lebron vs Durant

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Jimmy Durante, Kevin James,
 Lebron James, Kevin Durant.
A connection? You decide!

Elgin Baylor, John Stockton, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, Pete Maravich, Reggie Miller, Patrick Ewing…Lebron James.  What do all of these names have in common?  They all have had Hall of Fame careers, but always fell just short of that elusive NBA Championship.  Lebron James has a chance to remove his name from this list as he makes his 3rd trip to the NBA Finals and second in as many years.  The 2012 NBA Finals has one of the most exciting matchups of all time, featuring the most hated man in basketball versus one of the most loved.  Lebron James and Kevin Durant are headlining what is sure to be an epic duel of good vs evil.

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As a Mets fan, I HAVE to draw a bad Yankee analogy.

The Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder make their way to the NBA’s biggest stage having traveled completely different paths.  OKC, formally the Seattle Supersonics, drafted Durant back in 2007 and spent years building around him to find the proper championship fit.  The Miami Heat drafted Dwayne Wade back in 2003 and followed the New York Yankees philosophy of “if you can’t beat them, buy them,” to get their championship squad.  Regardless of how they got there, we have a great matchup to watch over these next 2 weeks.  Both of these powerhouse teams finished 2nd in their respective conferences, but were the favorites from most to make it to the big dance.

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Miami will blah blah dee blah blah while Thunder has blah blah blahbiddy blah. Go ahead – prove me wrong!

Even though they are playing in the same series, the pressures for both teams are on totally different levels.  For Oklahoma City, this is the first trip to the Finals for pretty much everyone outside of role-playing center Kendrick Perkins and long time veteran back up point guard, Derrick Fisher.  As for Miami, this is their second consecutive trip to the Finals and if you ask anyone in the organization I can assure you that they are playing by the mantra “win or the season is a failure.”  OKC is bringing the 3rd best offense in the NBA this season to the Finals to matchup against the 4th most stingy team when it comes to giving up points.  Miami, or should I say Lebron James and Dwayne Wade, bring a level of intensity on defense that they will need every second of each 48 minute game just to stay in contention with OKC.  The Thunder lack the defensive abilities that the Heat portray, but more than make up for it by draining shots from pretty much anywhere.

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Will NBA MVP KO OK, or OKTC KA MIA ?

This might be an NBA Finals matchup between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat, but the world will be paying much more attention to a very specific battle…”The Durantula” vs. “The King.”  The 3-time NBA MVP, Lebron James, and the 3-time scoring champion, Kevin Durant will fight for the most coveted award in basketball.  I can assure you that either one of these players would sacrifice all of their previous accolades to get their hands on that 14.5 pound sterling silver hardware with a 24-karat gold overlay.  Lebron, who turned the whole state of Ohio as well as most of America against him as he decided to bring his “talents to South Beach,” has more to prove than anyone.  James’ birth certificate might say he is 27, but his receding hairline that requires a double headband to cover it up, says that he is closer to 60.  Over the past 2 years since joining Miami, James has suffered through more high pressure situations than former president George W. Bush would in a Boggle tournament.

Like many others, I have given Lebron James and the rest of the Miami Heat a hard time throughout this season and there really is only one way they can all shut me up…WIN!  The mightier pressure might be on Miami but my pick is OKC in a thrilling 7 games.  Let me know if you agree or not.


Lebron Quiets Critics as the Heat Beat the Celtics…and Manny Pacquiao!

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Big man steps up, and on throat of Boston

“Thank you for helping me keep my job,” is probably exactly what Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra was thinking as the final seconds of Miami’s game 7 101-88 victory over the Boston Celtics wound down.  Before the game started, a stoic Lebron James was asked how he felt about the game 7 matchup, since he had lost in his previous 2 game 7’s, and James responded with “I won’t regret it!”  That type of confidence would intimidate anyone, but coming from arguably the best basketball player on the planet would make even Chuck Norris shit his pants.  After the disappointing game 5 loss to Boston that put Miami down 3-2 in the best-of-seven series, critics were trashing Lebron’s “lack of a clutch factor,” while Miami fans were begging for Spoelstra’s head/resignation form.

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Boston’s bashing Bosh’s, boasts Bron(Le)!

Game 6 was a breeze and entering game 7, Miami was considered a big favorite on their home court.  As the game started it was lead change after lead change with both teams countering their opponents attacks.  When the third quarter approached, Boston came out of the gates fast and built an 11 point lead.  At that point you could see the fear in Spoelstra’s eyes as he was about to lead the favored Miami Heat to yet another disheartening early exit from the playoffs.  Luckily for Spoelstra, James didn’t show that same fear.  Lebron had a sense of motivation and determination that I have personally never seen him have.  There was absolutely no way that Lebron was not going to face off with OKC in the NBA Finals.  Even though James was the clear reason that Miami won this game and the series, he gave credit to a player that made a huge difference in games 6 and 7.  “He was big time — every shot, every defensive play, every rebound — we missed him,” James said of Chris Bosh. “We’re just happy to have him back at the right time. If it wasn’t for him and the rest of the guys that stepped up, we don’t win this game.”  Classy statement from Lebron, but the truth of the matter is that without James, Miami would have been swept by the Knicks in the first round.

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“You damn Maimi kids get off our lawn!” Seniors cannot keep hooligans at bay

I have to give Boston a lot of credit, because during the regular season they were under .500 going into the all-star break.  For them to completely turn their season around and make it all the way to game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals is an impressive feat in itself, but to do it with a team filled with players that will be using walkers and wearing Depends in a few years is all the more extraordinary.  This was most likely the last game that Boston’s “Big 4,” (Rondo, Garnett, Pierce, and Allen) will ever play together.  I’m a die-hard Knicks fan so I am not to unhappy with that news, but as a sports fan it is always sad to see a dynasty die.

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Manny are called, but few are chosen.

The Celtics didn’t only lose this game for themselves, but they seem to have helped Timothy Bradley beat a disgruntled Boston fan in Manny Pacquiao.  The two welterweights had an epic matchup of their own last night that Bradley ended up winning in a split decision.  What’s incredible about this battle is that Pacquiao has been a life long Celtics fan and refused to let the match start until the Boston Miami game was over.  By caring more about the basketball matchup then his own fight, Manny seemed to have had his priorities askew.  “I did my best,” Pacquiao said. “I guess my best wasn’t good enough.”  Don’t worry Manny, neither was Boston’s.


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.