I'm done watching this series. Ugh. How disappointing.
NBA Playoffs! - Page 53
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That was a hard game to watch last night. I'm not a fan of any particular NBA team, I just really enjoy the sport, but man I really hate to see the Heat go up 3-1. Hoping the Thunder can at least take it to six games.
Some keys to me:
1) The step-up guy- Miami keeps having at least one player a night unexpectedly stepping up and delivering a big performance. Battier did it in Miami's first two wins, and it was Chalmer's turn last night. This is very much how OKC beat San Antonio - good play by the big three but each night a different guy would step up - Ibaka with a perfect shooting night and 26 points, Perkins with a big double-double, Sefolosha with 20. OKC is having a hard enough time getting good games out of all the of their big 3.
2) Only big 2 - Harden must be inside his own head right now because he's having about the worst stretch I've seen him have. When the game was tight he had three or four great open looks for three and he clunked them all. Unlike when Wade has an off-night shooting and compensates with steals, blocks, great D and facilitating the offense Harden just seemed to do a whole lot of nothing last night. That's not how they got here and that's not how they'll win here.
3) The complete player - One of the most athletic, fit, players in the game played himself to the point of complete physical exhaustion last night. You could see him struggling to breath mid 2nd quarter and yet he was still on the court in the 4th, when his muscles just gave out on him. You hear about 110%, but you rarely see it. While I wouldn't put this game on the level of Jordan's flu game, he did have 5 huge points after the injury in clutch time. In a way this game was his most impressive of the playoffs - two quarters of facilitating, with 12 great assists (one Ginobli-like) then when they were getting beat in the third they took a timeout, he came back in and scored aggressively like they needed him to. Scoring, rebounding, passing, defending 1-5. You can find a player in the league who's better at any one of these things - but he is the only player (without sounding melodramatic, perhaps in history) with such a potent mixture of all these elements. It is worth mentioning that Wade is possibly the most complete two - a great scorer, passer, stealer, who may also be the best blocker and rebounder for his size.
4) Rebounds- How does Miami keep out-rebounding OKC? I don't understand what Ibaka and Perk are doing out there. It isn't blocking, because the whole team had two blocks last night. It isn't scoring, as together they totaled 8 points. The only theory I have is this: Miami has arguably the best rebounding 2-guard in Wade (despite his size) and indisputably the best rebounding 3 (if you want to assign him a position) in the league with Lebron. This matters when a) they're attacking in the paint (and thus in the position for offensive boards) and b) playing others who are attacking in the paint or from 15 feet (such as Westbrook and Durant last night, when you are in position down low for the defensive board.) This gives Miami a big advantage. Bosh is also a better rebounder than people give him credit for - while Ibaka is the best in the league at timing blocks, from what I've seen this series Bosh is better at timing his rebounds.
5) Assists/balance. Lebron himself had one less assist than the entire Thunder team. This game looked to be the most balanced attack yet this series by Miami, with everyone on the starting lineup putting up solid numbers, without one player having to attack play after play with the rest of the team stagnant. Cole also supplied a big lift off the bench - 8 points might not seem like much, but when you take into account that his first 6 kickstarted Miami's comeback in the second they gain a whole new meaning.
6) Fouls/free throws - did seem slightly slanted in Miami's favor. Westbrook should have had more calls, he was attacking the hoop with contact multiple times when nothing was called. (Makes his 43 all the more impressive considering he only had 3 foul shots.) On the other end, I counted 6 real fouls on Durant - stupid, stupid fouls. I don't want to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but someone must have made the call to not get Durant in foul trouble again because time and time again the refs called Durant's fouls on his teammates. This may be an unspoken policy as I have seen it before: There was a foul committed. The other team needs free throws. The refs oblige, but keep the fouls down on the superstars. Makes sense considering that the league is ultimately a business.
7) Hustle/urgency - nowhere was this more evident than in the last five minutes with three great plays. Wade dove out of bounds twice for rebounds and got them back to his team. Only Wade. The other play that defined Miami's hustle to me was the jump ball that sealed the game. Haslem lost the tip, but Battier out-angled Durant who was in clear position to get the ball and tipped it to a teammate in the corner, who was fouled by Westbrook in his one big mistake of the game. This is not the same Miami team who played a lackluster last couple of games against the Mavs last year. I'm not certain that the addition of Battier can be quantified with currently available statistics. The defense all game was also great, with Miami closing off the lane to penetration (especially Harden,) rotating and closing out well, and not making stupid fouls. I don't think any team could have contained Westbrook last night.
Each game in this series has been tremendous as we see just what these players can do, individually and collectively. I'd like to see an extended series, but the series being 3-1 does not make it a bad series unless you are emotionally invested in OKC.
your right on all points....even the one with durants fouls being transferred(shhh)> the series is fery entertaining despite miamis lead and will still be remembered even if it doesnt get to game 7
Great analysis. I'll briefly comment/expand on your points.
1. Evidently Chalmers was motivated by the fact that OKC put Durant on him so he'd stay out of foul trouble: ''I took that as a little sign of disrespect."
2 & 4. Bosh only had 13 points as part of Miami's big three, but he was the difference on the boards once again, due to his superior length and mobility. Perkins and Ibaka need to block him out a bit more aggressively in the fight for position IMO, test his abdomen and the officials if they want the upper hand in the rebounding department. Not as much can be done about LeBron, but Perkins could be a bit more territorial with him in the paint as well.
3. The 'best player on the planet' is still a human being, and while he's playing near flawless basketball on both ends of the floor, keeping the three-time top scorer in the league in check much of the time is clearly taking its toll. Still one rebound away from a triple-double though.
5. I don't know if it was LeBron or Spolestra, but the way James went off with assists last night seemed to be a planned part of a multi-game strategy. He drove to the hole so aggressively in game three that OKC was forced to adjust. Not only did this open things up for Chalmers, but it sure seemed like LeBron expected them to collapse on him as he drove the lane, all he had to do is find the spot-up shooters and dish. I'm sure this was by design and OKC was sucked right into it. Actually I wouldn't be surprised if it was Riley's idea as Magic would do the same thing back in the Showtime era, even though it was usually within a single game!
6. I thought it was interesting between Ibaka and James, when James would back him down towards the paint and Ibaka would foul out of frustration in the fourth. A classic example of how nobody can cover this guy one on one. Ibaka and Perkins would have a chance if they could work together in that situation, but James would surely have made them pay with an assist, as he was channeling his inner Magic last night. Conversely, his inner Michael came out on Sunday.
7. OKC came out of the gate with a sense of urgency and went up by 17, but after that only Westbrook could sustain it. I expected him to have a great game and he really delivered, the guy played out of his mind all night long. If it wasn't for him, last night's game wouldn't have even been close.
I am also hoping for an extended series, but I believe that Miami is supremely motivated not to take another plane ride to OKC. That is one incredible group of fans and they know it. The Thunder can definitely be counted on to deliver a supreme effort tomorrow night, but I think the Heat have them figured out at this point.
This series has brought out the best in the Heat as a team, while over the last couple of games the Thunder have been seemingly reduced to a group of individuals. This is in sharp contrast to the way things have been through the playoffs. If the Thunder are to turn things around, they will have to start by reversing this dynamic.
But I think it's the Heat's turn this year, as it was for the Mavericks last year. The Thunder have a great chance to be back next year, quite possibly against the same team. Durant and Westbrook haven't peaked yet, so we could have the beginning of a rivalry for the ages. But for now this is looking to be a learning experience for OKC, like it was for the Heat last year and the Mavs back in 2006.
Edit: as long as James is healthy (and maybe even if he isn't), the forecast for Miami tomorrow night is:
A lot of Heat with a slight chance of Thunder
Edited by grokit - 6/20/12 at 12:48pm
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No one's ever come back from 3-1, correct?
I've said this before, but the Thunder have really thrown this series away. Oh well, their team is young and they'll likely have a few more chances to win the trophy in the coming years.
No one has come back from 3-1.
Then again, Lebron is so integral to the Heat's success that a comeback would be conceivable if he misses time/is not at full strength.
He has said he would play in game 5 but we'll see what happens.
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it doesnt show up on the numbers but wade is playing pretty good, at least in this series.
bosh, on the other hand, well, he can do better.. and he should..
the heats better end the series tonight.
if not, no one knows whats going to happen in okc..
To answer my own question about why Westbrook had only 3 FT's on 32 shots: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1230916-heat-thunder-refs-were-fair-to-russell-westbrook-in-game-4
I do think calls overall seemed slightly slanted in Miami's favor though.