Boy was I off with my Thunder in 5 prediction. My prediction was based on what I’d seen so far from the Heat,–The Pacers having them on the ropes-the Celtics stealing game 5, extending the series to a game 7 (in game 7-the series was still up for grabs until the last 1/3rd of the 4th quarter). Meanwhile in the West, the Spurs were just rolling along. They took the Thunder to school in the first 2 games of the Western Conference finals. Game 2 was about the best display of basketball I’d seen, since I can’t remember. I wrote that if an alien landed on earth and wanted to know basketball you’d put in the tape of the 1st half of game 2. Although I must admit something felt wrong, I said to my wife-games like that are so special it’s weird, they may have peaked to soon. I dismissed the thought, thinking instead that the Spurs would stay focused.
The Thunder turned it around. The Spurs, on an incredible run were just stopped in full stride and dismantled on the spot, series over. There’s always a tendency to over-react to performances like Game 2.
In the 1985 NBA finals Game 1 Boston vs LA., the Cs ran the Lakers out the gym. The Cs were the reigning NBA champs, defeating the Lakers in the previous years’ finals so everyone one thought, here we go again, Laker fans were devastated after that game. The Celts win one of the next 5 games and lose the series.
Anyway, the Thunder looked strong, the Heat were struggling. But looking back on it now, Eastern conference finals game 6, closeout game on the road against the Celtics was The re-birth of ‘bron. He said I got this. Like the incredible hulk, he broke through to another plane, things changed. In Game 3 of the finals, the Heat got close enough to sniff the championship and it was on.
But I don’t mind being wrong because it was so gratifying to see Lebron get the monkey off his back. The decision wasn’t that big a deal and neither was joining forces to play with 2 stars. But the 4th quarter melt downs and 17 and 7 in 2011 to 28 and 10 this year, shows that the critique of Lebron was legit. I’ve always felt that if he developed a Mitch Richmond post presence he’d elevate his game. But the other stuff, The “hate”, “criticism, etc? My answer was- just go win one (ring), when you’re a champion, you’re a champion. He didn’t win one sounds a lot worst than he only has one. So check, done deal.
After breaking through psychologically it would seem (he said as much himself), he also went to another dimension physically. He added much to his repertoire. I see free agents wanting to come to Miami and play with him so expect the new ‘bron to be right there for a few years. A freer Lebron, with new gifts to display-watch out!
The Series duds
In addition to how the Thunder were playing, After their play in games 3 & 4 of the Western Finals, I thought the physicality of Serg Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins, with Collison off the bench would be trouble for the Heat. Collison played well but Serg and Perkins didn’t put their stamp on the series at all, not even in the things they do well. They didn’t protect the rim and dominate the boards or impose their size and toughness. Maybe you have 2 guys on the floor who do the same thing? James Harden: I won’t go as hard on him as others, shooters go into slumps but the timing couldn’t have been worse. I also think Eric Maynor would have helped out with Chalmers and Cole.
Nope, the veteran role players on the heat, Chalmers, Haslem and more to the point Battier, Miller (who weren’t apart of the last championship) came to play. These league vets smelled the championship and 23yr olds didn’t pick up the scent. So congrats to Battier, Miller and special shout out to Juwan Howard.
The Big 3
The experiment a move that brought 3 stars together was ratified. Say what you want about Magic, Bird, Jordan wouldn’t have gone and played together; these 3 have a championship together. The fact that they went through a struggle, criticism, changes & sacrifice to their on the court play, meant that it didn’t come cheap. And maybe, though I doubt either would admit, a little harder than they thought? In the end they worked for it, got it and that’s what counts.
There was a lot of talk about the 3 coming together but really: Magic, Kareem, Worthy. Bird, Parish, McHale (Johnson). Garnet, Pierce and Allen (after it’s all said and done, Rondo’s name will give Boston its 2nd foursome). Jordan, Pippen and Rodman. Hakeem, Barkely and Drexler. I think you get the point…..
My GM Hat
I’d try to move Wade now while there’s still value but because of the relationships, they’ll try one more year with him. I just think he’s about to break down and getting value through a trade and counting on free agency signing could set them up to win 3/4 of the next 5. Steph Curry through trade? A big through free agency, like a Tyson chandler or Jakim Noah type-athletic, long and active. But if he returns to full health and can stay healthy Wade could also keep them in the mix the next 3yrs? Just don’t know?
Don’t think we’ve seen the last of a Thunder-Heat match up. Until the Lakers reload, which is a given because they’re the Lakers, I can’t see anyone else threatening them in the West. In the East, the Bulls will threaten but Lebron is a bigger stronger version of what the Bulls have so I’m giving the edge to the Heat to hold them off.
But congrats to The Miami Heat, 2012 NBA world champions.