Miami-San Antonio Pt. II, Lance & More Random Thoughts:
Well, the Miami Heat are going to the Finals for a 4th straight time. It really sucks to say it, doesn’t it? But, you got to hand this team some real respect. But the better part is, the San Antonio Spurs are back as well, and they aren’t going to let that Ray Allen Game 6 BS fly again (at least I hope not). I mean, let’s be honest, I think Miami would have beat OKC. The Spurs, for some reason, find a way to play the Heat well. They are old and their coach STARTS Matt Bonner with no regrets and Boris Diaw sees legitimate action for them. But of course, they find a way to sneak back into the Finals again with a great mix of future Hall-of-Famers and young budding stars, but the Heat have been the NBA’s best for a while now and they are certainly and sadly the favorites to win the title to complete the 3-Peat. Also, the Pacers are officially Miami’s little brother. Three straight seasons for the Pacers have ended from the big brother Miami. Pacers are the equivalent to the Patriots little brother, Buffalo. The Patriots always beat them, but every now and then the Bills put up a real fight and make the Pats earn it. Same thing can be said here with Indy and Miami. For three years the Pacers have given Miami some good fights, but in the end, never have enough left to knock out the Champ.
There are various reasons for this, obviously. So let’s break down the reasons the Pacers can’t beat Miami:
· First off, there is Roy Hibbert, who should become a magician because he’s so damn good at disappearing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 7’2 player NOT be able to take over a game after doing it consistently for a year. This guy is certainly an enigma. Either he has to fix his confidence/mental issue or he has to go and find a new team to maybe find himself again.
· The next issue on the list is the Pacers bench, or the nonexistence of the bench. All we heard about in March was how good the bench for the Pacers was. C.J. Watson, Luis Scola, and Evan Turner were saviors. Well, in the Conference Finals, they pulled their best Hibbert impressions. Scola was consistently left open for jumpers and couldn’t connect on anything. Did Evan Turner even play? Seriously. Watson was okay, but nothing special. You cannot expect to beat Miami in a seven game series with only 5 scorers.
· Then, there’s Paul George. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great talent, but he’s not a superstar just quite yet. He disappeared in 2-3 of the games this series and a superstar does not do that. But, the bright side for George is he’s only 24 and has a ton of time left to develop and mature. But, as of right now, he’s not ready to take the big stage and be ‘that’ guy. Maybe in 2-3 years he will be ready to dethrone LeBron, but if he continues to disappear in the playoffs like this, it won’t happen.
· The biggest problem for the Pacers was that they had only one guy who consistently brought energy, and well, the problem with that one guy was all of his energy was being spent acting like an idiot. Oh good ole Lance Stephenson. Then there’s Lance. It’s funny when some of the players pull little tactics here and there in the regular season. J.R. Smith and the shoe laces and Dwight tapping on guys’ shoulders are two decent examples. These things are done in the regular season when nobody really tries!! Lance was out there the entire series acting like it was some throw away game in December “trying to get in LeBron’s head”. It was pathetic, and what was worse about it was Lance said before Game 6 that the Great Larry Legend told him specifically to cut it out, yet he went out and acted like a buffoon again while the Pacers got probed. Indy would be beyond stupid to resign this guy. He’s a detriment to the team and the NBA more than anything. He couldn’t take the playoffs seriously. That’s the only explanation needed for that. I hope Lance signs with a garbage team for big money so we don’t have to watch him act idiotic again in May.
If Indy wants to have any shot at beating Miami next season or becoming a legit threat for the Larry O’Brien Trophy, they need to find a legitimate shooting guard who will worry about scoring more than 10, 9 and 11 points in the closing games of the Conference Final than blowing into the opposition’s ear. They also need to find a couple players who can be real contributors off of the bench come May. The Pacers during the regular season looked to be legit contenders, but the playoffs took all of those thoughts and burnt them down.
Now, let’s take a look at OKC and their MVP, Durant. It’s tough to sit back and talk about how talented Durant and Westbrook are and not start to give them some grief for not getting it done. I don’t really know who to blame on this team. All I know is someone needs to be blamed. They have KD and Westbrook who are both Top 10 players in the league. So, why no titles? Let’s take a look at reasons why OKC can’t win the big one:
· First, they have only four legitimate scores (KD, Russell, Jackson and Serge). You cannot expect to win titles with only four players who can score. Yes, Durant and Westbrook are elite scorers, but they cannot carry 60% + of the load night in and night out. The Thunder need to find another big man who can hit a jumper and post up some, a shooter, and another shooter. Jeremy Lamb looks like he may develop into something nice that could fill that void, but the team is also going to lose Fisher eventually and he’s a main shooter for them.
· Next, they need to take a look at the center position. Listen, I love Kendrick Perkins for his decent time in Boston, but without Garnett coaching him, this kid has gotten progressively worse. If OKC can find a center that can defend better and finish better (both not hard to upgrade), then they could be in business, and Steve Adams actually looks like he could be that guy.
· Immaturity or Stupidity. You pick. You can give the Thunder the immaturity excuse, because well their core is still VERY young. But, you could also discredit that reason because this team was in a NBA Final previously. I tend to fall on the stupidity side. I’ve been saying this for years: As long as Russell Westbrook is the PG in OKC, the Thunder will not win a ring. There. Boom. Why? Because first off, Westbrook takes shots away from Durant and two, when Russell gets hot, he turns into an idiot. Every time he starts to take over a game, his shot selection gets worse. I think Westbrook is a crazy good talent, probably Top 10 in the league, but sometimes, he makes plays that just make you shake your head. Until he grows out of the poor shot selection and turnovers, OKC will continue to make Final 4’s and not have any rings to show for it.
Before I get into the Finals matchup, I want to just mention that fact that Kevin Love was spotted in Boston this weekend and is reportedly visiting the city to “check it out”. I think it’s safe to say that he wasn’t just here on vacation either. I find it pretty convenient that the draft is less than a month away and he’s checking out a city that has interest in acquiring his talents. The interest seems real and if the deal is right, the Celtics could be in the playoffs by next season baby!!!
Now, onto the NBA Finals, or Miami-San Antonio Pt. II. I really hope that San Antonio gets the revenge we all know they want after blowing the golden chance in Game 6 last year. That thing was all but wrapped up and bang… broken play.. Ray Allen 3…. I’m crying… We all know the story after that. Who the hell would’ve thought that the rusty ole Spurs would make it back to the Finals? I certainly didn’t. I thought last season was the last run of the great Parker, Manu, and Timmy D combo, but the young talent on this team continues to help lead them and give the old guys a break. I love seeing what the Spurs are doing, and wanted this team to make the Finals again only because we know they can give Miami everything they can handle. And also because the Spurs reign of success in the NBA just reminds of the Patriots reign so I respect it big time.
This series is going to be great. I expect tight games every single night. The health of Tony Parker is a key story to watch, because he killed Miami last year and if he isn’t 100% that’s pretty much it for the Spurs. For Miami, keeping DWade healthy is huge too. I know you Heat fans may not think anything of it, because you did such a great job limiting him in the regular season and the knee has given him issues at all, but the knee is always an unknown with him.
Predicting this series is tough. The Spurs seem to make every single big shot whenever it is needed and Miami has LeBron. The key to this series is how well Leonard can defend and slow LBJ, and which team’s shooters will hit the most shots. Both teams are lined up with deep threats, and whichever team can hit the most open looks will win. While each team has loads of veteran talent, the young kids in this series will play the biggest role. The team that has the younglings play mistake free and consistent will have a huge advantage. This thing is shaping up to be another classic like last season. The Spurs are out for revenge and one more ring, while Miami wants to continue their reign and complete the 3-Peat. Screw it; give me the Spurs in 6. Screw Miami!!