Hello TJRsports readers! I am your humble NBA correspondent who missed last week due to some things going on. Thankfully, we’re back in the saddle again! Let’s get right to it.
Miami Heat versus Indiana Pacers:
As we’ve noticed through the first two games of this series, the Pacers look engaged and for once like they’re trying. The hatred of the Miami Heat can bind even the loosest of friendships and that is exactly what it’s doing to this Indiana team. Roy Hibbert is altering shots, Stephenson and West are playing very well and they are playing good, team basketball. My concern with them is if this starts to fall off the rails (they get blown out or down 3-1) I am not sure this team can rally together for the common good.
What a tale of two games one and two were. Game 1, the Heat looked terrible defensively, very disorganized and did not have great ball movement. Chris Bosh got manhandled by David West, they allowed 107 points and 37 free throws to a team who hasn’t done that all postseason. Game 2 was the polar opposite. They played sound defense, their role players were knocking down shots when LeBron kicked it their way and in the 4th quarter, Wade and LeBron took over like star players are supposed to do. This Heat team looks extremely dangerous, especially if people outside of the big 3 contribute consistently.
It sucks for Indiana fans because this team is really extremely talented and is so very close to going to the finals. However, I just don’t think they have the fortitude to overcome adversity like they did last season. Last year, that team was hungry and fighting. This year, they just look like they want the season to be over so they can go their separate ways.
Heat in 6
Oklahoma City Thunder versus San Antonio Spurs
I know, we are all sick and tired of talking about the Spurs. We want to see something different, someone else come out of the west. They play boring, methodical basketball. Before moving to Austin (about an hour north of San Antonio) I heard these excuses all the time. As I’ve gotten to see more of this team, my respect for Popovich and all the Spurs have done has grown exponentially. The way Pop has built the team and utilizes his players is a thing of beauty. Take Game 1. Tim Duncan scored 27 points in 29 minutes! Only 2 Spurs (Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard) played more than 30 minutes. They shot 57.5% from the field!! That’s absurd efficiency and being able to avoid playing your veteran big guns 40+ minutes a night just keeps them healthier.
The Thunder miss Serge Ibaka badly. Tony Parker looked way too comfortable in the paint and was able to play his game. There was no one to contest shots and his replacement Nick Collison didn’t contribute much on either end of the floor. Outside of Durant and Westbrook, the starters combined for 5 points. Durant was extremely efficient but the rest of the team was not. For them to have any chance, I think Scott Brooks is going to have to outcoach Gregg Popovich (good luck with that). To have a chance against San Antonio, here is my suggestion. You can continue to roll out a crappy starting lineup but the one that needs to get the majority of the minutes is this: Westbrook, Reggie Jackson, Caron Butler, Durant and Steven Adams. Move Durant to the four so he’s in better positions to rebound. Get the aggressive Steven Adams in the game. He can alter shots, rebound and contribute far more than Kendrick Perkins. Butler can stretch the floor and Reggie Jackson gives you a ton of energy, another ball handler who is more a pass-first guy who can create shots for Durant/Westbrook. Bring on Sefolosha when you need defense but this gives them the best chance to win.
I am rooting for the Thunder because I think any NBA fan outside of Texas and Indiana wants to see LeBron versus Kevin Durant in the finals. That being said, the Spurs are just too good and too deep. OKC will win a couple because Durant will give them a super human effort and if they get hot, this team can rack up points in a hurry. However, we will be seeing a repeat of the 2013 NBA Finals.
Spurs in 6
Other NBA points:
Cleveland won the NBA lottery last night *yawn*. Can we further the argument that NBA lottery is the dumbest system of all time and I can’t argue against anyone who thinks it’s rigged? As my colleague Dan Mount (@DanMountSports) elegantly put it: “Cleveland wins the lottery and LeBron is a free agent? Of course the NBA isn’t fixed *sarcasm* Now, if only Cleveland finds a way sign LeBron and also swing a deal to get Kevin Love over there. Hmmmm…..
Kevin Love is leaving the Timberwolves after this season. As a T’Wolves fan, this sucks. However, any rational Timberwolves fan has known this is coming since David Kahn refused to give him a max deal 3 years ago. Kevin has resented the organization ever since and unless the Wolves make a run to the NBA Finals next season, there is no way he stays in Minnesota. Granted, I will be surprised if he is there to start the season.
Finally, I have purposefully avoided discussing the Donald Sterling situation because A) its far too complicated and B) I don’t want something I say to reflect poorly on this wonderful site or my fellow authors/editors. That being said, I am sad that this has cast a shadow over the NBA playoffs. I cannot imagine how hurtful some of those things were to people and I am sorry that still in 2014, we all still can’t love one another, regardless of skin color or race. As a Christian, I believe in Jesus and all that He did. When speaking to a crowd about which commandment is the most important, he said this: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and all your mind. The Second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31) It pains me that this is so hard for us to do but my prayer is that these words of Christ will be taken to heart.
Thank you for reading. I would love to hear your comments, criticisms, anything. Give me a follow @weigel_a on twitter.