Sunday, June 10, 2012

It's Time For The NBA Finals!

The Thunder beat the Spurs 4 straight, and Miami managed to win games 6 and 7 against Boston. So it's the Heat and Thunder, and yeah, I don't really care. I care to the extent I want Oklahoma City to win, because I don't think I can laugh at that ridiculous celebration LeBron, Wade, and Bosh did once they've actually won a championship. As long as they haven't, I can still be amused by 'not one, not two, . . .' So I'd prefer not to lose that.

Beyond that, there's not much here. I had been rooting for the Celtics (as opposed to merely rooting against Miami), because I wanted Garnett to have another shot at a ring. That's out the window. I don't have any real attachment to the Thunder. They seem like a fun team, certainly have nothing against them. I just got nothin' for them, either.

So we're left with a Finals I have little interest in from a real basketball standpoint. I expect the Thunder to win. They beat a better team, who had home court, in six games, while the Heat needed 7 to defeat a battered Celtics team. The Thunder have home court, they earned it playing in a tougher conference, and I think they're a better team overall. Let's say Thunder in 6.


Saturday, June 02, 2012

Checking In On The Conference Finals

Since both series are through 3 games, this seemed like the right time.

Both series are at 2-1, with the higher seed leading in both cases, and home teams having won all the games. The Heat beat the Celtics comfortably in game 1, then came back from a large deficit to do it again in Game 2 in OT. There were concerns about the reffing, because this is the NBA, so we always have to be worried about their lousy refs. LeBron shot almost as many free throws as the entire Celtics team, on a night when Boston was actually attacking the rim, which is a little suspect. Plus the whole "Wade smacking Rondo across the face on Rondo's drive and not being called for a foul" issue. Wade certainly does seem to foul people aggressively without penalty a lot. Have to wonder, if the league had done the right thing and suspended him for at least one game for the flying tackle on Darren Collison, how that series would have gone. Too late now, I guess.

There's been some discussion of how few fouls are called on LeBron, in spite of his being an aggressive defender. I think it's something like 1.3 per game, which for a guy who frequently guards the other team's best wing player is kind of low. The counterargument goes LeBron is very good at using his athletic talents - the speed, agility, strength, length, and so on - to defend without fouling. I don't know. It boils down to whether you think LeBron doesn't get called for fouls because he's a good defender, or whether people think he's a good defender because he's never called for fouls. LeBron's obvious talent argues in favor of the former, the tendency of NBA refs to let stars slide on stuff is a strong point for the latter.

Anyway, Boston managed to win Game 3, because no one on Miami other than LeBron had a good game, and Kevin Garnett is doing his best to be a low-post beast, rather than the perimeter shooter he typically is. In theory, that ought to be there for KG all series. Even if Bosh comes back, I think KG can handle him. For one, Bosh probably won't be 100% right off, for another, I've never heard of Bosh being a ferocious interior defender. Of course, the question is whether KG can maintain the energy level necessary to do that every game from here until the end of the series, and if even that will be enough. The Celtics didn't blow the Heat out after all, and if Wade, or even Mario Chalmers, had gotten going, things could have been different. I think the Celtics are still just delaying the inevitable, but that's fine. The longer they can drag this out, the better the chance something beneficial to them happens.

Over in the West, the Spurs had to erase a 9 point deficit at the start of the 4th quarter to win Game 1, won Game 2 by building up a big lead which the Thunder nearly erased, then got stomped by OKC in Game 3. Apparently, the Spurs were surprised by some of the defensive choices the Thunder made, like putting Sefolosha on Parker, or Durant on Ginobli. Plus, Duncan's had consecutive lousy games, which could be Kendrick Perkins.

So now it's a question of how the Spurs adjust. I still think they have the advantage, if only because I find it worrisome how dependent OKC's offense is on just three guys. In theory the Spurs have a  number of players who can help carry the offense for one game, so they're better positioned to survive off nights from the rest of the team. Granted, the ceiling for OKC's three is higher than for any of the Spurs, but I still like the wealth of options San Antonio has.

I'm not sure what the answer to the matchup problem is. Maybe let Boris Diaw be the distributor more. He's pretty good at that, and if Thabo is on Parker, and Durant on Manu, Diaw probably has a mismatch, like Westbrook (too small), or Perkins (too slow) Perhaps that isn't feasible long-term, but it may only need to work long enough to force the Thunder to abandon their current strategy, and switch to something the Spurs can attack more conventionally.