The NBA Finals impressing, but at the same time disappointing all of our expectations.

Watching the Miami Heat take a 3-1 series lead in last nights pivotal game 4 was a very in between feeling for me. I have more and more became a “fan of the game”, more than stick with my allegiances and not really enjoy the amazing game for what it is worth. While I am a Lakers fan and they have enjoyed their success recently (5 titles in 12 years, playoffs in every season but one) I have learned, due to other teams winning which I have in the past proclaimed to hate. Well hate is such a strong word so I think in this case I will stick to dislike. But last night took me to another place.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are a very exciting team to watch, as noted as the way they bounced the defending champs in Dallas, my Kobe led Los Angeles Lakers, and the seemingly unbeatable San Antonio Spurs (who had won 20 in a row, including the first 2 of the series before losing 4 straight to bow out of the Western Conference Finals). The Thunder have impressed. While they may not boast the huge salaried or highly hyped Big 3 that many other teams may have such as Boston, Miami, or LA, they have an exciting core of players who are all home grown and have gelled together very very quickly. You can’t help but root for these guys. They are young, hungry, haven’t hit that egotistical age in the NBA, and day by day and round by round they are impressing. Before the playoffs, many stated that if the Thunder can get through the prospective uphill battle of Dallas, Los Angeles, & San Antonio (which if you were counting at home, were the Western Conference Champs the last 12 years) they would be a legitimate title contender and would have, so to speak, arrived. Well now that it has happened, we have seen another Thunder team. After going up 1-0 in the Finals, Kevin Durant who led the league in scoring this season has somewhat taken a backseat to Russell Westbrook on the court (and in fashion). But haven’t we seen this before? Countless times I have turned on Sportscenter or ESPN First Take and have heard commentators talking about how Westbrook, the POINT GUARD, taking too many shots which in turn takes shots away from Durant, who by the way averaged 28.0 ppg this season and an equally impressive 28.3 this postseason. What I don’t mind is when Westbrook drives to the hole and takes layups. He has demonstrated all playoffs and especially last night, that he can get to the rim at will due to the fact he is a mismatch with anyone who tries to guard him. But when he sits back and takes jump shots, it kills the team. He averages about 23 ppg this postseason, yet he takes about 20 shots per game. Now Durant averages 28 on 19 shots and averages 28.3, is there a problem here? Maybe that’s not the main issue. While Durant and Westbrook had 70 of their teams 98 points last night we have to ask the question, where was James Harden, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins and the rest of the team. With their backs against the wall what kind of performance can we expect out of them. They shot right out of the gates last night and after the first quarter was over I fully expected them to even up the series at 2 apiece, but after shooting 60% in the first quarter they stumbled and despite Lebron’s cramps (more on that later) they couldn’t get a defensive stop in the fourth quarter and could not hit the key shots. The mental toughness of this team will definitely be tested come tomorrow night, not only is this an elimination game, but this is a statement game for the Thunder moving forward. Do they have the will to win?

Now on to the Heat, who surprisingly have awaken in these playoffs. I have to admit I fully expected them to lose each of the last 2 series before the Finals. They were down 2-1 on the road to a talented Indiana team, came back to win. Then against a tough veteran Boston team, lost 3 in a row after winning the opening 2 games, only to come back and steal the series and send Boston home. Despite Rajon Rondo playing out of his mind during the series including a game where he dropped 43 points and almost having a triple double in a losing effort. Currently in the Finals, we have seen it all. First the Heat lose game 1 to the Thunder blowing a big lead in the process, and then since have been rock solid, winning each of the last 3 games. Game 4 was probably the most impressive. The Thunder, who were in a must win situation, stormed out the gates and held a 17 point lead in the first quarter, only for the Heat to come back and make it a game by half time. Call it exhaustion or over-exertion this playoffs, but Lebron finally showed he was human in the fourth quarter by going down with what was called a leg cramp. He then came back onto the court, hit a huge 3 and then limped back down the court. Was this Lebron’s defining moment a la Jordan’s flu game? Not even close, while it did show some of the hunger and resiliency we have been lacking from Lebron in the playoffs, it was almost a little too dramatic. It’s good to finally see him not act like some entitled punk and prove to everyone why he is the chosen one and the best player on the planet.

What was even more suprising was the fact he sat on the bench the last minute of the game. Maybe for precautions, maybe because the game was out of reach at that point or whatever, but it was suprising to see him out during crunch time. Something I thought I would never see until later in his career.

Well here it is coming up, the MOST important game of his career coming up. Game 5, his first NBA Finals closeout game. Will he come up big or fizzle out like in the past? We have all seen the mouthpiece with the XVI, maybe this should have been seen as the first sign that he is hungry for the title.

Image

But if they end up closing out the Thunder in game 5, I can’t help but think, what kind of ridiculous press conference or statement will Lebron make after winning the title. Will he pull a Pat Riley?

Or will he pull out some statement about the haters and detractors and once again, alienate himself like last year. We will find out within the week! Stay tuned!

 

 

Oh, props to ABC on their 7 second delay fail, not once but twice. First with Lebron’s injury and second when Wade was giving Chalmers his new nickname.

Advertisements
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: