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Posts tagged “Oklahoma City Thunder

It’s About Damn Time, It’s About Damn Time!

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The long road to a championship, rode long by a champion.

NBA Rookie of the Year, 8-time NBA All-Star selection, 2008 Scoring Title, 3-time NBA MVP, and 6-time NBA All First Team selection would seem to be enough accolades to be considered one of the best ever.  Well, for Lebron James it wasn’t until last night when he led his Miami Heat to the NBA Title and picked up his first ever Championship ring and Finals MVP award.  The dark cloud that has been following over Lebron’s head since he decided to take his talents to South Beach has finally gone away and now the best player in the world can get the credit he deserves.  I can’t say I was rooting for James to win it, but as a basketball fan and they way he won it was absolutely remarkable.

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Over sounds of Thunder, the Heat lightning struck and burned

From the opening tip in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, James seemed determined to finish the series in Miami and not have to travel back to the most hostile environment in the NBA, OKC.  Fittingly, Miami’s first two points were from an emphatic slam by James and from that point on you just felt that his talents had finally surfaced in South Beach the way he promised his fans back in 2010.  Throughout the playoffs I was cheering against Miami for no other reason than I am a huge supporter of the underdog.  I mean I am a Mets, Knicks and Jets fan.  In this game, as the minutes slowly diminished and Miami was rapping up their rout of the Thunder, 121-106, I found myself smiling and slightly impressed with what Miami had accomplished.

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Double Check? No, I was just checking to make sure I didn’t wet myself from laughing!

There’s something to be said about winning a championship, but there is a lot more to be said about a team that wins a championship when most of the world is rooting against them.  As much as I would like to not give any credit to anyone except Lebron, I can’t.  This Championship run was a legitimate team effort.  From consistently strong games from Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, to surprising shooting performances from Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers, there was really no chance for OKC.  The second that the Thunder developed a game plan, Miami seemed to have their counterattack ready to go.

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It was Miller time even before the celebrations began!

In the clinching game 5, Miami’s surprising star was non-other than “Sir Limps A Lot,” Mike Miller.  Like a robotic zombie, Miller limped up and down the court and just drained 3-pointer after 3-pointer.  Miller entered the game 0-3 from downtown, but after game 5 finished he was an astonishing 7-11 for the series.  For all you math whizzes out there, that means he went a lights out 7-8 from beyond the arc in an NBA Title clinching game…that is amazing!  I hate to say it but even Miami’s undeserving coach seemed to of run a few plays that actually looked like he knew what he was doing.  I find it remarkable that a team that has basically been together for 2 years waited till their final game of the NBA Finals to show the world their best stuff.

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Yeah – something even bigger than MY head and that shines as much as me.

Sure Miami won their second Championship ever as a franchise and it was a total team effort, but what the fans of basketball will always remember this series as is Lebron’s first title.  Now, will it be the first of many like Lebron promised us two years ago?  In my opinion I think it is.  If last night’s game, and all of the playoffs for that matter, is any indication of how Lebron’s game is improving then the rest of the world should step aside.  Michael Jordan didn’t win his first Championship until he was 28 and the now 27 year-old James has a platform to measure the rest of his career against.  Congratulations to the Miami Heat for winning the NBA Championship and a special congratulations to Lebron James for not only proving the haters wrong, but proving that he is the best player in the world.


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.


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.


Spurs of the Moment!

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They got Spurs that jingle jangle jingle, as they go winnin’ merrily along…

For almost two decades now the San Antonio Spurs have demonstrated exactly what it is like to play as a team.  Year after year, the Spurs have proven that it does not matter who is in the game as long as you play as a team.  With NBA championships in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007, the Spurs are looking to add a fifth title to the dynasty that started when San Antonio drafted Tim Duncan as the first overall pick from Wake Forest in 1997.  Last night the Spurs finished their second straight sweep of an opponent in the 2012 playoffs and added to their win streak of 18 in a row dating back to the regular season.  In round 1, San Antonio demolished the Utah Jazz only to be faced up with the young and talented LA Clippers in round 2.  Fear of this high-flying acrobatic team that fans call “lob city,” was nonexistent in the minds of the Spurs as they won all 4 games without missing a beat.  At this point I do not see anybody being able to beat this powerhouse team, whether it be the winner of the Thunder/Lakers match-up in the Western Conference Finals or whomever they would face in the NBA finals.

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Nothing spur-adic about this team’s offense this season

Although this team is clearly led by their veterans Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli, San Antonio is a team with endless depth and can beat you from a million different angles.  Second in the NBA in scoring, fourth in assists and ninth in rebounds, the Spurs hit on all facets of basketball fundamentals.  The Spurs finished the regular season tied with Chicago for the best record in the NBA at 50-16.  The incredible thing about that is that they played relativity under the radar all year.  I guess that America has just come to expect that Tim Duncan will lead his team to success season after season.  This season was extra special for San Antonio because their expectations were a lot lower after losing in the first round of the playoffs last year.

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Young and unknown, but at the top of their game. Kind of like me.

With a roster filled with relatively unknowns, San Antonio found ways this season to pinpoint each players strengths and weaknesses so they could put a solid 11-man rotation together.  Role players like Gary Neal, Kawhi Leonard, Daniel Green and Tiago Splitter have embraced their opportunities as secondary options to the Spurs all-stars.  Aging veterans like Stephen Jackson, Boris Diaw and Matt Bonner have bought into the idea of supporting rather than shinning, knowing that it will help their ultimate goal of winning a championship.  Already tasting one championship in 2007, Matt Bonner has become a huge vocal leader  off the bench, as well as providing the Spurs with a deadly 3-point shot.  When the Spurs play it is always a complete team effort and it all starts with the marvelous coaching of Gregg Popovich.

With the Lakers trailing the Thunder 3-1 in their best-of-seven match-up, it looks like the Spurs will be facing off with yet another young and extremely talented team in Oklahoma City.  I can’t bet against the Spurs right now with the way they are playing, but I do feel that OKC poses a tough match-up.  If the SAS make the finals it will most likely be against the Eastern Conference favorites, Miami Heat.  If this is how it all plays out I will really look forward to seeing the Spurs and Heat duke it out till the very end.  Regardless of what else happens for the rest of the playoffs, I think we should all pay our respects to the under-appreciated and over-achieving San Antonio Spurs.