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Are They All Playing for Second? The NBA Playoff Rundown

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2013 NBA Playoffs

The NBA Playoffs kicked off this weekend, and we got a chance to see every team’s “Second Season” debut. The home teams looked good, going 8-0 and winning by an average of 16 points. The road teams will get their chance to rebound, but the bigger question is: Who can challenge Miami in a seven-game series? On the surface, the answer is “nobody,” but let’s break down the NBA’s first round, predict the winners, and decide if they’re just playing for second place.

New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics –



As confident (and loud) as Knicks fans have become during the team’s excellent end to the season, even they would admit the Celtics make them nervous. No matter how much the team has aged, how torn Rajon Rondo’s ACL is, or how bad Jason Terry has been, the Celtics have earned their respect while running the Atlantic Division in recent years.

Saturday’s game was a potential turning point in this series. Melo Playoffs

The Knicks were the better team and showed they are ready to make a run in the East. Though neither team played great on Saturday, New York simply has more weapons than Boston in this series. Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith will handle the scoring, and you assume Tyson Chandler will get involved later in the series (that the Knicks won without Chandler even taking a shot is crazy). If the Celtics were healthy, this would be a more interesting series. As-is, New York will outlast Boston in six games.

Can they beat Miami? New York has been playing as well as a fan could hope for in recent weeks. If everything goes perfectly, they have a shot. However, they can’t get three points combined from Shumpert, Chandler, Copeland, and Novak against Miami (as they did Saturday) and expect to compete. Worth keeping an eye on if they are clicking on all cylinders by the Eastern Conference Finals.

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Indiana Pacers vs. Atlanta Hawks –

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Pacers in five.

Can they beat Miami? The Pacers have been hyped for much of the season as a potential contender against Miami. They were winning their series against the Heat (without Chris Bosh) in the playoffs last season, and many of their key players (Paul George, David West, Lance Stephenson, and Roy Hibbert) are a year better. They should be a legit threat, but they rely too much on their defense and it isn’t good enough to keep Miami under 85 points consistently (which it would need to be to win). They’ll probably lose to Miami in five games, and it wouldn’t be fun to watch. Next!

Brooklyn Nets vs. Chicago Bulls –

Rose Sits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seriously, Derrick Rose, WTF?! This meme was funny last season after Rose tore his ACL in the playoffs. This year, though, he’s been practicing fully since last month and we’ve heard the same recording of his status as the team awaits his return. So what gives? It damn sure looks like Rose is ready to go, and he’s admitted his hurdle to returning is mental. I’ve never torn my ACL, but I think after a few weeks of practicing hard, my competitiveness would force me to get back on the floor to help my team compete. There has to be something else there.

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As for this series, Brooklyn is too much for a Bulls team with a hobbled Joakim Noah and no Rose. They will take this series in five, which is a shame because it would be a different story with a healthy Chicago roster. By the way, who saw this coming?

Can they beat Miami? Brooklyn has emerged as another team with an outside shot at competing against Miami. The Heat have no answer down low for Brook Lopez, and Deron Williams now looks like the $100 million player we thought he was at the start of the season. The issue is that they have no one to deal with LeBron James or Dwyane Wade (apologies to Joe Johnson). I can’t see Brooklyn winning when the two best players on the court are wearing Heat jerseys.

Western Conference –

The West has a similar feel to the East. The Oklahoma City Thunder is clearly the best team on that side of the bracket. In hanging 120 points on the Rockets, you saw them at their best on Sunday. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant did what they do. Ibaka was effective. The bench was active. And Kendrick Perkins scowled…which I’m pretty sure is his best skill at this point. You even saw the Thunder’s underrated defense on display forcing Houston to shoot poorly and racking up nine steals and blocks. KD is not nice

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OKC is the most complete team in the West, and the other contenders can’t score enough to match Westbrook and Durant on the perimeter. The Clippers and Spurs have the best shot, but they may not get past Memphis and Denver respectively. So…to the question at hand:

Can they beat Miami? I’m predicting a repeat of last year’s Finals. The problem for OKC is they do what Miami does, just not as well. Their strength is on the perimeter, with Bosh and Ibaka essentially cancelling each other out as a “stretch 4” for each team. The Thunder still turn the ball over too much and still play Perkins way too much for me to think anything will turn out differently. LeBron and Durant both improved this year, but that means LeBron would dominate a series between these two teams. Plus, James’ best brings the best out of his teammates in a way that Durant can’t match right now. It’s no fun to predict, but Miami is the choice to repeat. LeBron is on another planet, and the rest of the Heat are playing well. Wade and Bosh are still good, the shooters are shooting, and Birdman is contributing in ways Haslem can’t anymore.

Who do you have in the Finals this year? Can anyone knock off Miami? Will OKC come out of the West? Is it time for Derrick Rose to return? A lot of questions as the playoffs begin, who’s your pick as the champion?

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Comment(64)

  1. I personnally don't see any team that can beat the Heat! (That was hard to admit… -_-')… But hey you never know, nobody bet on Dallas in 2011!!

  2. IMHO, this is whats wrong with the NBA. We have been spoiled by MJ. Now we only want to see the "stars" and we consider teams who play actual basketball boring. These rosters now consist of 1/3 inexperienced kids, 1/3 overpriced average players, and 1/3 stars who with the exception of Kobe and Duncan, haven't gotten it done on a consistent basis to earn the label. Cats today dont have any "real" appreciation for the Magic, Larry, Michael era or even before. Those teams played against men, and the league was much more physical. Now the league is full of kids, and no one appreciates defense so the role players of the previous generation who werent as athletic, can no longer contribute. People just want to see alley-oops, and three's. True big men are nearly extinct, and coach's have no power over overpayed, underachieving, primadonnas. That said, I still love the game of basketball, just like I still love hip hop, I just hate whats being sold to us as good basketball

  3. I'll say it again, I don't see the Heat making it out of the East. Miami has always beat up on teams that aren't good. The Bucks are the 8th seed and I don't put much in the fact that the Heat will sweep them. The thing is… the Bucks hung in there with the Heat at point with Lebron and Wade on the court. The Heat have a lot of weapons and that bails them out at times. This isn't the series that is going to show the Heat's flaws. The problem is, the Heat haven't shown the ability to dominate anyone else in the East. Provided all the home teams win, (or the Bulls), Miami has to play teams that they couldn't win the season series against. They have problems with the Knicks and the history suggests the Knicks will play them hard. They also have problems with the Pacers, Nets and Bulls. I don't put it past any of those teams to push Miami harder than they're used to. When a team believes that they have a serious shot at beating Miami and plays them physical, they typically win.

    As for the West, we can't be impressed by the Thunder's Game 1 win. The Rockets don't play defense, like at all. That didn't tell me anything. The Clippers almost dropped one last night, when Memphis wasn't sleeping. Now they have to go to Memphis for two straight and that's going to be tough. The Spurs look mortal against the Lakers right now. We'll see what happens in Game 2. That was anyone's game and the Lakers never had a consistent game plan. Golden State is done. Stick a fork in them, Thunder and Nugges easily advance, the other two series might go deep. That only favors the Clippers. Neither the Lakers or Spurs can afford a seven game series.

    I get real scared if the Lakers win Game 2 and head back to LA. That series will shift and we might have an upset.

    1. The thing with these teams in the East is that they can beat Miami once but not 4 times! That's not happening… We have seen it during the season, yeah Chicago stopped their winning strike but when they met again, Miami beat them hard… Last time the Knicks beat them James, Wade, Chalmers weren't even playing. I give them props but i'm sorry i can't take that win seriously…

      1. It's actually the other way around. The Heat only beat a lot of these teams once in the season and couldn't manage to win the season series. If anyone hasn't proven the ability to win 4, it's the Heat.

        1. Hey you right Doc! They only beat the Knicks and the Bulls once… ok i'll repeat what you said in a previous post "Don't gaz up the Heat"…

    2. I'll throw three things at you that lean toward the Heat:

      – They lost four of their last 46 games. Hard to believe they'll lose 4 of 7.

      – Without looking at all the box scores, I assume that Lebron, Wade and Bosh will play more in the playoffs, and guys like Haslem, Norris Cole, and Joell Anthony will play less. Trading out those minutes makes Miami A LOT better.

      – The Heat were down in three consecutive series last year (2-1 to Pacers, 3-2 to Boston, 1-0 to OKC) and fought back every time. I think they're tougher than you give them credit for.

      1. I didn't say they were soft. I just think that teams are afraid to play them physically.

        And you and I both know that David Stern BAILED them out of that Pacers series. They redeemed themselves against Boston. Those are the tough teams though. I think 2-5 can give the Heat a run in the Eastern Conference.

        1. 2-4 can. Chicago can't in their current state. I'd be interested to see if Brooklyn, Indy, or NY play Miami tough. Chicago showed the blueprint, I could only see Indy actually doing it though. I still say it's Miami's to lose as Larry mentioned, but I would be surprised if they go down 4 out of 7.

          On the topic of Chicago…could you imagine LeBron being cleared for over a month, practicing 5-on5, and NOT playing? Man we'd be crucifying him, lol.

        2. I actually am not surprised or upset by Rose in the least bit. You know why? Because of the way they slandered Dwight Howard. We set the blueprint for athletes going forward. This is a classic case of, "you know you asked for this…"

          Rose is cleared, he could return, but he said, "He's not returning until he can dunk off the leg, like just that leg." He can't end of story. He wants to come back 100% . That's fair.

          I'm sure if his team made it out of this round, he'd consider playing.

          If this happened to Lebron, we'd try and slander but he'd have the same right to say, "You won't Dwight Howard me…"

    3. "The problem is, the Heat haven't shown the ability to dominate anyone else in the East."

      I mean, I hear you….buuuut no other team in the East has shown the ability to dominate anyone else, either….so there's that. As far as probability goes the Heat clearly have the best chance based on someting you said , " The Heat have a lot of weapons and that bails them out at times." ….and overall probably have the best talent at the top.

      I wouldn't be surprised if Miami didn't come out the east….but there are more reasons for why Miami would then any other team….and there are less reasons why they won't than any other team.

  4. Barring injury I cant realistically see anyone beating the Heat (in the East). I don’t believe in the Knicks (C’s in 7), the Pacers can’t score enough, the Nets on paper should have a punchers chance but LeBron will go Super Saiyan before he loses in the 2nd round. On the west side, if Parker n Ginobili are healthy I can see the Spurs coming out the West, and even winning it all. Like LeBron before him, Durant just doesn’t quite get how formidable he should be, I like the Nuggets but they need a closer especially against a Spurs or Thunder team that won’t go quietly. The Clippers are a regular season team.

      1. Every. Single. Year. I give the Spurs credit, and they flop. Wrote two damn posts on them last year, lol. I won't get got again!

        #ThunderUp

        The Spurs ARE good though. And if Ginobili is really healthy, that makes them much better. Let's see if he can keep his level of play up.

    1. "I don't believe in the Knicks (C's in 7), the Pacers can't score enough…"

      *Looks at Boston 4th quarter point total in game 1 box score* Umm….alrighty, then. lol. Don't let your fandom get in your way my man, lol. You may not believe in the Knicks, but why should we believe in the Celtics? They finished the season 7-13 the last couple of months and those wins came agains the likes of the Cavs, Wizards, Suns, Magic, Pistons, etc…lol.

      Not saying they can't knock the Knicks off….but if you're saying you don't believe in the Knicks then you gotta come with a reason why we should believe in Boston.

  5. Miami will win it all until a team proves them wrong.

    The NBA's best shot is OKC, Knicks, or maybe a healthy spurs. If the Celtics wouldve dropped to 8th to play the Heat that wouldve been a great test to soften them up for the next round.

    Knicks will be battle tested by the Cs. if/when they get by them, I dont see anyone truly challenging them tougher until the ECF.

    The Pacers/Hawks games should all be simulated. That series is AWFUL

  6. Clearly, Miami was the best team in the NBAs regular season. Anyone who refutes that widely accepted notion probably just doesn't know much about basketball *shrugs*

    With that being said it's never a guarantee the best team will always win the championship. Playoffs are a game of match ups and the Heat could easilly fall into a series where one or two match ups don't go their way and they would need to battle. We saw this last year in the playoffs as a matter of fact.

    I believe it's the Heat's championship to lose based on the the talent they have. Now I want to make one thing VERY clear…just because ppl think the Heat can win a championship does NOT mean ppl think the Heat are gonna sweep everyone and win by an average of 20 points a game….no one is saying that. They may go through a couple of 7 game series…get lucky a time or two. All of the Bulls great teams only went less than 6 games 1 in their title runs I believe.

    1. The Heat could very well lose…..but if someone would care to give more of an argument as to what other team can win the championship as opposed to why the Heat will lose I'd be impressed. The Heat's argument as to why they could win is stronger than any other team. That's how I look at it.

      I wouldn't be the least bit shocked if they didn't win, but let's not act like they don't have the highest probability…..thing is other teams have a high probability, too…just not thee highest, lol. Should be a good playoffs.

      1. I think any viable argument for another team would be full of "if's". For instance,

        The Thunder have a great shot IF Ibaka's jumper is falling. He actually shot a decent percentage from three this year. IF he can spread the defense like that. It makes life easier for Westbrook and KD. Also, IF Brooks gets over his weird loyalty to Kendrick Perkins against athletic bigs, the Thunder are in much better shape. IF Reggie Jackson can bridge the gap while Westbrook is out that was created by the loss of Harden and Maynor, that is a big plus for them as well. They are almost unbeatable IF all these things are going at the same time.

        The Knicks also have a great shot IF their threes are falling. Also, IF Amar'e stays far away from the court, they seem to be much better. IF Novak's offense is better than his horrible defense, that helps them a ton as well. He was too easily erased from the court in last year's playoffs.

        IF IF IF IF IF, lol.

        Does that count as a viable case?

        1. You know what I say about "If's" , brother….. If an 'if' was a fifth then we'd ALL be drunk! , lolol.

          So, no not that viable in the least, especially when we don't factor in the positive 'ifs' for Miami, lol.

          I just look at it like this. Can anyone else's "best" beat Miami's "best"…..is my better, better than your better in other words. I'm gonna have to say no to that.

        2. I'm with you, lol. Just trying to build a case somehow, someway. And I agree, there is a good amount of talking Miami off the pedestal without a real argument for why another team is better.

        3. @Joe Sargent

          ” Also, IF Amar’e stays far away from the court, they seem to be much better”

          LMAO!!! I am not a Knick fan, but when they gave him 100 Million, I wanted to throw myself off a bridge.

          That negro is STEALING money like Jamarcus Russell

    2. "They may go through a couple of 7 game series…get lucky a time or two."

      Just call me motha effing Nostradomus!!!!! LOL.

  7. I think as a whole Miami or OKC is going to win simply because—and heres the conspiracy theorist in me but ratings=money and David Stern is not going to lose money over a sub par NBA match-up. If you think about it over the last 30 or so years with the exception of a very few, all of the 'sexy' teams have won.
    With that being said for all of the Boston fans they will not repeat last years ECF run. They have no wing defenders, no potent scorers (sorry pierce isn't that anymore) no legit PG, and their rebounding is terrible. I say Knicks/Heat in ECF.
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    1. I swear the NBA has more conspiracies than any sport including the WWE. What is it about this sport? I think if Stern had his way, we'd have had a LeBron/Kobe Finals by now. Even Nike had those puppet commercials thinking that was gonna happen!

        1. It's rare that you will see two ho-hum teams in the Finals because the nature of the NBA is such that the best players (who are very often the most well known and/or "interesting") control their destiny to a degree not seen in any other sport. There are only 5 of them (from each team) on the court at once and you can almost completely control whether you have the ball or not.

    2. "If you think about it over the last 30 or so years with the exception of a very few, all of the 'sexy' teams have won. "

      What constitutes a "very few"? Not sure what you consider 'sexy' , but over the last 30 years the Spurs have won 4 times, Pistons 3 times, Dallas Mavs, etc…

      There is no conspiracy. Teams with good ownership/management and/or great players will win more often than not. Period.

      1. the bulls won 6 times in the 90's. Now were they a great team? yes however we all know MJ was the face of the league and was by far the most marketable. So of course if the bulls games were close calls were going to go Chicago's way. You're going to tell me they were THAT much better than the phoenix suns, Portland trailblazers, and Utah Jazz etc. The spurs v cavs (lowest rated NBA finals ever) The previous two times with NJ and DET (in 2003, and 2005 respectively) were also very low but the 2007 finals took the cake. The spurs have had better teams since then so why haven't they won or gone to the finals after doing so 3 times in 4 years. In game 6 vs OKC last year the spurs were I foul trouble with 10 mins to go in the game. You don't have to take my word for it but it's something to think about
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        1. The Spurs losing to OKC last year had more to do with Manu's health problems and Serge Ibaka going 15 for 11 than any sort of Stern/referee bias.

          Also, I know everyone likes to reminisce about the 90s like it was this basketball golden age since that's when so many of us were weaned on the game, but the talent level wasn't near what it is now so it was easier for MJ to do what he did. The greats of the previous generation, Bird and Magic left earlier than they normally would have due to back and condom problems, respectively, and no one came to replace them really. In addition, if Penny stayed healthy and Shaq stayed in ORL, there's a chance CHI may not have been able to get that second 3-peat. The story of Michael Jordan is the basically the story of a series of perfectly timed events so I don't think you can really use that to compare to anything else.

        2. ginobli had 34 points in game 5, as a matter of fact if im not mistaken parker, ginobili, and duncan combines for like 70-75 points. and they still lost

          game 6 Free Throw disparity: Oklahoma City 31 spurs 18, the spurs were in foul trouble with 10:00 to go in the game. That doesn't sound fishy? And they lost by 8 despite the 13 fewer FT's
          And as far as the talent level in the 90's it was insane you had drexler, barkley, richmond, hardaway,(tim and penny) shaq, robinson, olajuwon, ewing, miller, glen rice, shawn kemp, gary payton, malone, stockton, even dominique wilkins and isiah thomas were effective in the early 90's man I could go on and on… and most of the guys I mentioned are HOF'ers or about to be
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        3. OKC was 2nd in the league in FTAs. SAS was 17th. Why should it be at all surprising that OKC has a FT advantage in a game against SAS?

        4. it would be surprising because how often does a team commit 5 fouls within TWO minutes of a quarter? (which led them to being in the penalty) I can't ever recall a game where a team was in the penalty with TEN minutes to go in a game, that's nuts. And who was one of the refs for that game? None other than Joey Crawford who strongly dislikes Tim duncan, and it's well documented …I'm just sayin' my brother
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        5. That's why they play seven game series, sir. No the Bulls weren't that much better….that's why all of those series went six games….not one sweep! lolol. But they were better, however, and they proved it by winning.

          "The spurs have had better teams since then so why haven't they won or gone to the finals after doing so 3 times in 4 years."

          Even if this is the case that doesn't mean another team could have gotten a lot better in that same time span (see, Lakers, Los Angeles). So yeah, so what if the 09 Spurs team was better than the 07 team….the 09 Lakers team was better than the 09 Spurs team. Nice try.

          You know why the Spurs were in foul trouble? Because OKC was the aggressor in that quarter. They were the better team, really and they proved it.

          No conspiracy theories my man, lol. Just good basketball.

        6. @Larry @Cortonio

          I love me a good conspiracy, but I will go with Larry on this one.

          OKC is very athletic. And Athlete like LeBron, Westbroon & JR Smith draw foul better than less athletic men.

          There is plausible deniability, you need iron clad proof to make a case, like Lakers vs, Sacremento WCF would make a better argument.

    1. Don't do all that. I'll loan you the money at 72% interest. That's a steal compared to the payday loan people. AND you won't have to risk being held up at one of those shady offices. Win/win!

      1. LOL. I recently saw Montell in a commercial hawking one of them joints. I was like…you're really hard up for that "glaucoma medicine" money, huh? lol

  8. Does it really matter that the Heat had the best regular season record? They play in the weak Eastern Conference. They streaked for 20-some odd games and only came out a few games ahead of OKC and the SPURS who play in the hyper-competitive West and have to face one another 4 times. Every possible thing that could go right for the Heat did in the Finals last year. The numbers their supporting cast put up were career numbers, not averages. I don't see Mike Miller and Mario Chalmers bailing them out this time. Let's not forget about Wade's knee, it's a rap if he's not 90%+

    1. I agree that their record is inflated by a weak Eastern conference. But the Heat are the best team in the league right now. They have three of the best five players, no matter who they go up against. That counts for something when you consider all those guys are playing 40 minutes a game against the best teams.

      I think the supporting guys will continue putting up numbers. All they do is take wide open three pointers, lol. Plus it looks like Birdman is gonna contribute. As the comments have been posted, I've talked myself even more into the Heat.

    2. "Does it really matter that the Heat had the best regular season record? "

      Yes and no. It matters in the respect that they have proven that over a long season they are capable of winning games along with having the 2nd largest margin of victory in the league (behind OKC). Based on the Milwaukee Bucks regular season record would you think they have a shot of winning the title? I didn't think so.

      Obviously it doesn't matter when it comes down to the last 4 or so teams standing as every team left is good anything can happen in a 7 game series when good opponents are pitted against one another.

      Oh and coming out ahead of OKC by 6 games and the Spurs by 8 games isn't what I would consider minor, lol.

      1. When three of the teams you play four times each include the Wizards, Cavs, Magic, and Bobcats. 6 games is minor.

    1. @Cortonio

      I completely respectfully disagree.

      Wade is the KEY to all the Heat’s championships.
      LeBron is like Wilt Chamberlain, masterful talent, won a lil bit, but mostly couldn’t get it done in the playoffs.

      If Wade knee goes the way of Kevin Ware or Shaun Livingston, the Heat will not repeat, even if LeBron score 50-10-10-10+ for the playoffs. Same with Chris Bosh.

      1. :-0

        LeBron is the best player on Earth. The Heat would shoot Wade in the knee if it guaranteed LBJ would be 100% healthy.

        1. I think it goes w/o saying that they are both important to the success of this Miami Heat team.

          As far as Wade goes, are we forgetting the Indiana series last year? Pivotal game 4 at Indiana with Heat down 2 games to 1 Wade goes 30, 9 and 6 (LBJ had a great game, too)….and game 6, the deciding game, Wade goes for 41, 10 and 3.

          So yeah, let's not just pick out a game or two in the Boston series like that was the only series that took place, lol. Wade is needed….LBJ is needed. Simple enough.

      2. Thank you @Larry for backing me up

        @Sargent @Cortonio

        I don’t care if LeBron is on steroids, you shoot Wade in the knee, they will lock LeBron down enough to win a series.

        You take Bosh out, which we found out last year, the Heat will get that work!

  9. I think you underrated IND and NYK will push MIA a bit in the East. Of the WC contenders, SAS, OKC and MEM could all beat them in a 7 game series. MIA is probably the best team in the league, but that's not clear cut in my opinion (I think OKC has an argument) and even being the best team is no guarantee of anything given the vagaries of matchups in the postseason.

    1. *reports your avi for indecency*

      I think SAS and Memphis have a good shot against Miami. SAS has a nice balance of inside and 3-point threats. And though Memphis can't shoot from outside, they could potentially dominate the paint. I just don't think either will get a shot in the Finals.

      OKC looked really, really good in their opener, and they'd play Miami tough. Their series last year was the closest 5-gamer I can imagine if that makes sense. I don't trust Ibaka's jumper for whatever reason. Seems better, I wouldn't bet on it in the Finals. I think they need that to stress Miami like Bosh does for the Heat.

      I hope you're right, I'd prefer all 7-game series. I just don't see i when Miami gets the chance to adjust over the course of the matchup.

      1. I think it's highly unlikely MEM gets past LAC at this point and I think there's a good chance SAS gets derailed due to health, DEN or OKC, but I was just making point that because of the types of teams they are, they do pose a threat. MIA, relatively speaking, defends the 3 poorly, especially against pass heavy offenses that can put pressure on the aggressive help defense they play. SAS is such a team. Then we all obviously know about MIA's weaknesses in the paint and the Timmy and Gasol/Z-Bo factors.

        Over the last 3 years, Serge Ibaka has hit 45% of his mid-range jumpers. League average is 38%. Whether you trust it or not, Serge Ibaka has a good jumper.

        Also, it's amazing to me that so many people think MIA is so much better than OKC when, like you said, last year's Finals was a relatively close 5-gamer (especially outside of Game 5) and when OKC just ran up one of the most dominant point differential seasons in league history and point differential, IIRC, is a better predictor of playoff success than regular season record. While there are specific matchup problems that MIA poses for OKC and while I think OKC's ref-dependent offensive style is particularly hurt by postseason play, I also think too many people are losing sight of the fact that OKC is a legitimately great team.

        1. That's fair re: OKC. They're better than most give them credit for. I know I wrote off their title chances after the Harden trade, and they're better now according to some of the advanced stats.

          I don't think you can underrate OKC's offensive style, and how it could unravel them against MIA. They commit too many turnovers (6th in the league), and rely too much on 1-on-1 play which (I think you made reference to this) plays into Miami's two biggest strengths defensively. Their defense is underrated, so they could make some of that up on the other end if they can keep Miami in check from 3.

          I feel like I just typed myself into a circle. Overall, I agree OKC is great. Just think Miami is greater, and do things defensively that make them specifically problematic for the Thunder.

          I know I'm wrong on Ibaka. He's improved a lot offensively, and was always a force on defense. I'm just not onboard with him being the third best player on a championship team. Clearly you and Sam Presti disagree, the latter of which is all that matters (no offense, haha).

        2. What is your baseline for comfort for "3rd best player on a championship team"? How does that baseline change, if at all, given that Durant is better than all but a handful of best player on a championship teams and Westbrook is better than the majority of 2nd best players on a championship teams?

          Sticking to the 1st question, I think Ibaka '13 is as good as or better than Terry/Kidd/Marion/Barea '11, Odom '10, Odom '09, Allen '08. That was off the top so please excuse any glaring oversights.

        3. I know I'm out on a limb with this one. So I won't go overboard tryinig to defend it. You could point to any number of stats/examples to back that up without much of an argument from me.

          Ibaka is certainly as good as the recent examples you laid out. I was looking at it as 'can Ibaka match Bosh this year?' I think so, especially when you factor in his defense. But I've seen Bosh hit shots in the Finals, and I saw Miami behind the Pacers when he was out. I haven't given Ibaka the same credit, probably because it hasn't happened yet. They guy is 23 though, so I'm sure I'll be wrong eventually. Might prove to be this year.

          Gonna check out his lines in the Finals last year.

        4. Yeah…Ibaka was a non-factor in the Finals last year. Can't lie and say he's not better though. If you think he can carry that deep into the playoffs this year, that's fine. I haven't because he hasn't.

          But again, I'll be late on this.He'll play well before I say he's a reliable third wheel in the Finals. I can tell that already.

        5. Stop speaking in generalities and cliches for a second and define your terms. What precisely does a reliable third wheel contribute? That said, what is the evidence for and against Ibaka contributing as such?

        6. For whatever reason, I can’t reply directly to your last one on my phone.

          Anyway, I’d define the guy I’m talking about as “the non-star on a team with good stats (10+ points, 7+ boards/assists) who can reliably be counted on to play at or above his averages in the Finals.”

          I’m saying I don’t see Ibaka as that guy. His stats are good, but would I count on him to do that at least 4 times in the Finals? No. I’d use last year’s finals as the only tangible example I have to fall back on.

  10. 1980's_Lakers showtime, magic Johnson not to mention the have the biggest sports market. (NY is 2nd)_NBA finals 1980,1982-1989. 9 times in 10 years, including 5 titles._Celtics, Larry bird (bird v magic rivalry) NBA finals 1981, 1984-87. 5 times in 7 years 3 titles_keep in mind NBA pundits say this rivalry put the NBA on the map. They made tons of money_Oh yeah and when Larry didn't make it in 1982 and 83 the 76ers were they led by who Dr. J_1990's_Bulls.MJ need I say more 6 NBA titles in 6 tries. The two years he was out of the league were the only time he didn't win. (1994, 1995)__2000's__LA Lakers once again, return of showtime Kobe and Shaq. NBA finals 2000-2002 won all three_LA Lakers this time with Kobe NBA finals 2008-2010 won 2 of them, including two matchups vs the Celtics who beat them in 2008 (the new 'big 3' of KG, allen, and pierce.) Which by the way were the 2nd and 3rd highest rated NBA final behind guess who?? OKC vs Miami last year. Lebron v Durant. And as far as Dallas in 2011 who was their opponents? Miami the 'new'(er) big 3 plus Lebron defecting to Miami was by far the biggest story of the NBA. _
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