Welcome to another week of NBA Nation Australia’s Roundtable Discussion
Our @NBANationOz Roundtable Knights Are:
Nick Caro: @NickoToGo
Nick How: @Nick_A_How
Sam Monaghan: @Mono85
This weeks Roundtable is a Finals/Playoffs focused feature and we were lucky enough to have some special guests join us –
Jamey Burke: @KWAPT
Nick Metallinos: @NickMetallinos
Chad Smith: @BezerkerMPS
1. The Burning Question – Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat will meet in the 2012 NBA Finals. Who will win it all and why?
Nick C: I don’t think it will be all OKC as people are predicting. This is a newly invigorated Heat unit that has shed the weight that held them back in the Finals last year. LeBron James is as hungry as ever, and add to that the downright dangerous form he is in. Dwayne Wade has been slow to start games but is finding his feet as they wear on, and becoming very influential. Chris Bosh has also made an impact in his return and although playing limited minutes his presence is immediately recognizable. Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem are also noticeably more committed. Having said that, I still believe OKC will come out on top in the end. Their strength, speed and all round resolve will eventually see them be crowned NBA Champions in 6 games (4-2). There are many areas where the Thunder have the edge on the Heat. At the point, on the perimeter, in the paint – They are just an all-round stronger team than Miami. The impact of Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka and Harden off the bench will be too much for Miami and the Thunder’s ability to never stop fighting will count for everything in the Finals series of 2012.
Nick H: I see nothing but continuing heartbreak for our mate LeBron James, the Thunder will be too much team for the Heat. Early in the Celtics series it was key that players like Chalmers & Battier stepped up around the stars LeBron & Wade and that they did. That was a huge reason for the wins in those first two games, and then the Celtics were too much defensively for the Heat and took the next 3. A
beast-mode game from LBJ and 4th quarter bettering from the Heat stole them that series, but things will be different this time around. I
almost see this being a very one sided series, Westbrook and Durant will be too much for the Heat offensively and we may even see some
blow out games. Perkins will have a big series battling with Bosh, and he always likes to get physical with James – something James doesn’t particularly like too much. I expect to see a lot of James flopping in this series too, he may not get the calls he got in the celtics series though. The Heat, like early in the Boston series will desperately need Chalmers to get busy, driving to the rim which he did so
successfully. Westbrook will be causing all kinds of trouble for the Heat defense, but if he picks his shot better than he has done in past
series, I expect huge games for him too. Its the game NBA purists and armchair fans alike wanted, they now have it, it’ll be as quick as
hell, and I’m positive we’ll see tears from LeBron (Not of joy). Thunder 4-1
Sam: NBA Champions – Oklahoma City Thunder
In 4 short years and countless well spotted draft classes the Oklahoma Thunder make their NBA Finals début. This series may go seven games we don’t know. I see the Thunder raising the trophy high at the end of this. Role players. Players like Battier, Chalmers, Collison and Harden will decide who wins this series. The Heat’s role players need to find and hit shots, James and Wade will struggle to carry this team like they have done in Games 5, 6, and 7 vs. Boston. Miami’s role players are not lock down defenders, so Durant, Westbrook, and Harden could cause some proper damage when they go one-on-one. The starting 5 match-ups really favour the Thunder. Offensively Durant can handle James, defensively I would imagine Brooks will rotate defenders like Ibaka, Sefolosha and Collison to help KD contain James. So who slows Wade? A combination of Harden, Fisher and Westbrook. Why not play Fisher and Westbrook simultaneously while letting Sefolosha & Harden rest and continue to pound Wade with experience and energy? This Thunder team is a energetic, passionate, hungry team in their prime. Miami is a team of role players surrounding 2 stars. Expect James, Wade & Bosh step it up in time for their coronation but I see the Thunder taking an early lead and sustaining.
Nick M: I’m really hoping the Heat can pull it off but in the end I feel like Oklahoma City have more weapons and a deeper bench that will eventually overrun Miami. Heat can’t expect LeBron to win this series alone for them. OKC in 6 for me.
Chad: I found myself reading all sorts of blogs, news stories and wot-not on all teams and players trying to see how this will go, I want it to be a quick win for Miami so people stop the Super Hate on LeBron but I think it is going to go at least 6 games and maybe 7.
Looking at the matchups on what will appear to be the starting 5.
Ibaka v Battier, I think Ibaka is to athletic for Battier (also younger). Ibaka has been consistent with the 15-18 Ft jump shot but never count out Battier with his corner 3 ball. Edge Thunder
Perkins V Bosh, While I think Perk can be better on the boards if Bosh is hitting the 3 ball (just ask NickaHow about that) and the 15-18 foot jumper that could nullify Perkins board rate (if he is guarding correctly). Edge Miami.
Westbrook V Chalmers, Chalmer’s will get the start but will most likely not get much in the way of 4th Q minutes (unless he catches fire) and the ball handling will be done by either LeBron or wade in the 4th. Westbrook will need to be locked in from game 1, none of these 4/17 fg games or he will become a liability. For Sheer points and play ability though. Edge Thunder.
Sefalosha V Wade, I am super Biased here, DWade is my favourite player at the moment and has been for the past 7 seasons, he may be either injured or slowing (which we will find out come season completion I am sure) but his body control, the way he can split defences and will to want to shoot will be to much for Sefalosha. Edge Miami
Durant v LeBron, this will be the big one. Won of these 2 superstars will win their first championship ring and if they do I don’t think it will be there last.
Durant has won the last 3, LeBron has won 3 of the last 4 so I am well within my right to say we have 2 of the games best players today fighting this one out. Durant and LeBron trained together before this season started, they share a mutual respect for each other. Durant I think has the better outside game (Not a huge margin), LeBron has worked on his inside game and I believe is a more complete player but that comes with the extra years in the NBA also. I am going to give the Edge to Miami with this one, purely because of LeBron’s IMO more complete game.
Benches, Miami’s bench of Haslem, Miller and Anthony will need to play there parts extremely well.
The Thunder bench has the Leagues 6th Man in Harden who would start on any other team and may do so on this team next season add Collison, Maynor and Daequan (ex Heat 3 point Champ) and they have allot more depth in there Bench – Edge Thunder
Miami – Norris Cole, he had a terrific start to the season but seems to have fallen out of the rotation, if Chalmer’s gets into early foul trouble (which is possible with Westbrook’s attacking style) he will be called upon to step up, we have all seen he has t in him but can he produce?
Thunder – I was going to put Daequan as the X Factor but he doesn’t get that many minutes so DFish will be the wild card, so much play off experience, so many clutch shots. If you look back at the year Durant Joined the NBA LeBron was the Leagues leading scorer, the following year DWade held the title, Westbrook can light up a game and Harden is no slouch in the scoring department, this is going to be a Fast paced high scoring series suiting what Miami was doing at the start of the season. its going to be a tough series with many many, many highlight plays. Miami need to do this within 6 games, if it goes to a 7th I think the Thunders young guns and what I believe to be the best crowd in the NBA will push them over the line. For this reason I am tipping Miami in 6
Jamey: I have OKC winning the Finals. I just think the Thunder are too deep and have an edge defensively w/Ibaka & Perkins. Also, Westbrook will simply be too much for the Heat to handle.
2. The Heat are a team full of stars, most notably the big three. The team’s spiritual leader has always been Dwayne Wade, but has the impact of LeBron James seen a changing of the guard? Is LeBron now considered Miami’s general?
Nick C: Yes. I think this year LeBron has felt a lot more at home in Miami and the people have started to consider him a permanent and real member of their beloved team. Dwayne Wade has been considered the leader for some time but having LeBron dominate and control the tempo and often the outcome of games really does speak volumes for his status within the team. An area of concern for me, is will Miami suffer a bit of Kobe syndrome during the finals? We know that when Kobe is going off, the rest of the team tends to watch and this often contributes to an eventual implosion for the Lakers. If LeBron goes for 40+, is it safe to assume that the rest of the Heat team will sit back and become back ground noise? I hope for Miami’s sake that doesn’t happen because if it does, OKC will definitely capitalize. With that being said, the Heat do look up to him and do rally around him 99% of the time. Let’s just hope that trend continues into the Finals.
Nick H: LeBron has been in charge since he arrived in South Beach in my eyes. Wade, I dont think is overly put out with James taking on all that pressure, to be fair I think Wade is probably happy with it. Wade is still an elite player in this team and League and will continue to be for some time but this team is now definitely James’. You will notice most plays go through LeBron and that’s when he’s not bringing the ball up court. It’s more the fans perspective really, I’m sure if you spoke to the players in the locker room they would tell you that they are no more important as the player, but that’s where I think the Heat suffer a bit. I’m not sold on them being a ‘team’ yet, it still is very individualistic at South Beach. I’m sure maybe at some point in the future if this unit stick together that would could have a very, very good ‘team’, but as yet I don’t believe so.
Sam: LeBron is now Miami’s leader. His presense has shaken the foundations of South Beach and now tools for a title are in his hands. LeBron looks more comfortable, looks more confident and has lead from the front game after game. It might seem like this as Wade has been a bit of a dead weight this year, looking a little rusty and having trouble getting his engine started. This maybe a blessing as the Heat seem to fire up when LeBron fires up, with such influence maybe just maybe James can carry this team to a Championship.
Nick M: LeBron should have been the Heat’s leader last season as well. I suppose all new partnerships need an adjustment period – too many times last season both players went out of their way to help accomodate the other way too many times – but this season James has clearly emerged as the team leader. As their best player it’s only right. As LeBron goes, so do the Heat and this is being proven these playoffs. Wade has been missing for too many stretches, and is getting a relative pass for it.
Chad: I get sick of here these comparisons about who’s team is who’s. DWade has championship experience, LeBron is playing amazing ball at the moment (check Game 6 of the ECF if you doubt that), you see LeBron for longer periods of the game leading the floor, DWade takes over when LeBron is of the court and at times when he is scoring takes over when LeBron is on the court. How about I put in terms I hope people can understand, DWade is the Cannon, LeBron is the Cannonball. Just keep out of the way of both of them.
Jamey: The Heat are now Lebron’s team. The team lives & dies w/him. As a Celtics fan, I unfortunately saw this first hand in the ECF.
3. So far in the Playoffs, we’ve seen some amazing players stamp their mark on the NBA Playoffs. James Harden is a notable addition to a long list of playoff MVP candidates. Before all is said and done, will he take out the Playoffs Finals MVP, and if not, who?
Nick C: Tough to say before we’ve had a game in the Finals, but based on Playoffs form so far, I’m going to predict no. Harden is great, and is easily one of my favorite players but I don’t see him taking that particular crown from Kevin Durant or LeBron James. The two powerhouses of the Finals will undoubtedly be in the adjudicators eyes the entire time and depending on which team comes out on top, I don’t see the award going to anyone else but those two.
Nick H: Personally cannot see it being anyone else other than Kevin Durant, he’s just been an absolute beast this year. Some would say he has arguably had an MVP year, but was pipped to it by the phenomenal LeBron James. KD has had a fantastic Playoffs so far, and I’m sure will dominate this Finals series. Currently he is shooting just over 50% while averaging 27.8pts 7.9rpg & 4.2apg. Also he importantly has shot well from the line which always is so essential from any star come Playoff time, currently he is shooting 88% from the line. Expect him to take these Finals on his shoulders and revel in it. KD is a great professional, a quiet but very likeable guy, I’m sure a Championship this year would be the start of a very successful run for the superb duo KD and Westbrook.
Sam: There are as many candidates for MVP as there are spots on a Russell Westbrook post-game press conference shirt but in the end there will only be a winner. The Finals MVP tends to go to the best player on the winning team. As above I see the Thunder taking this series, there are 2 candidates for this award. One can strongly influence the outcome. Westbrook or Durant. Durant is going to have a great series no matter what, he is a WIZARD – averaging 27pts at 45% FG with 8rbs and 3 assists per game in the post season. Westbrook is a livewire. He can go ballistic scoring 45 points or can cause trouble on the perimeter. Either way he is another Thunder player who can rip holes in pro- defences. Russell has the ability to turn it on and off – if he turns it on he could be the Thunders most important player every night, shadowing Wade and slicing through the lane. I dont fully trust Westbrook to do this so I am going with Durant as my MVP.
Nick M: Doubtful that he will win the MVP, Westbrook and Durant will influence the game for longer stretches than Harden, but he will play a crucial role. He adds another option that Miami will have to cover – despite being a sixth man, he plays starters minutes. I can’t see him being as subdued for the entire series as he was in today’s game.
Chad: I love Harden, so much so I picked him up with my 2nd round pick in our NBA2K league, he can drive and shoot the 3 ball is tough and has a Beard (Fear the Beard), but Finals MVP I am not sure of, if you go by what I think will happen I believe LeBron will be our Finals MVP, if Thunder do win the series I think it will be Durant, that’s where more focus has been with the Thunder and that’s where it will stay during the finals.
Jamey: Thunder’s Durant will be the Finals MVP. That’s just my gut-feeling for such a tough question. He’s been waiting in the wings & now’s his time to shine.
4. From Westbrook’s Insane shirts to LeBron’s glasses, what is craziest post-game interview getup from 2012?
Nick C: How can you go past Russell Westrook’s Lacoste shirt and red wayfarers? There’s been some great efforts from Rondo, LeBron and even the odd coach getting involved, but Russ’ combo set the bar to a very high level. Hopefully the Finals post-game pressers give us more ingenious wardrobe classics.
Nick H: Dwayne Wade’s pink trousers would have to get a good mention, pretty ballsy in my opinion. I’ve been digging Nick Young’s get up also, pretty sweet denim shirts, and good shades. But, the craziest (although I do dig his style) is Russell Westbrooks.
He has been wearing some wild but awesome shirts. Being a man who also wears glasses, I dig Westbrook’s choice of frames too.
I personally liked the Critical Slide Society shirt he wore, which is actually designed by an Australian designer from the Central Coast.
How Rusty ended up with one I have no idea, but it’s great to see him ’sporting’ a local designer.
Sam: James Harden – Winner of 6th man of the year and ONLY man brave enough to wear Rose. This is a little bit of a slippery answer but Harden won the award during the post-season for his regular season efforts. No words can describe the suit except its rose coloured. Enjoy.
Nick M: Westbrook wins this every time he’s at the podium! The glasses seem to have caught on throughout the league unfortunately. The Miami boys (LeBron and D.Wade) are actually two of the better dressed guys, and Kevin Durant has stepped his suit game up considerably. Had a very well-fitting suit on at today’s conference.
Chad: Having not seen many of the post game interviews I would have to say whatever Westbrook is wearing must be the most insane, or at least most blogged/talked about.
Jamey: Not a fan of either Westbrook or Lebron’s style. But if we’re looking for craziest, we have to go back to previous round & Nick Young.
5. With the Celtics losing against the Heat in the ECF, do you think this is the end of the Boston Big 3? How should the team approach next season?
Nick C: As sad as it is, yes. Whilst the big 3 still have basketball left in their legs, the Celtics would be wise to make moves while that is still the case and they still have some value. They have been instrumental in the team’s success since 2007 but the time has come for Boston to get younger, and start rebuilding. There are options for both Garnett and Allen. I think they are definitely the cornerstones for a trade. Paul Pierce won’t go anywhere however. Yesterday the rumors of the Lakers looking to sign Ray Allen asked some interesting questions. What would Boston get out of it, and would Allen be happy playing second fiddle to Kobe Bryant? It would be great for L.A. as the shooting power off the bench is something they lacked desperately this season, but as for Allen being happy playing under Kobe? I don’t know. I can only see Gasol going to Boston for Allen, which isn’t an entirely bad thing, but it doesn’t solve their youth problems. Nor does it for the Lakers. Kevin Garnett will no doubt be courted by teams for his final years of service, but I can really only see it being to a small market team who’s playoffs hopes need a boost. Tough times ahead for Danny Ainge and the Celtics. I hope they can make the pieces fit, but it will be hard to replace that strong spiritual bond that resided for 5 years in TD Garden.
Nick H: Being a C’s fan this question hurts, as this is the time we’ve all been dreading. Any talk of time to move on or retirement are a sore talking point with Boston fans and have been for some time. Yes, some ‘experts’ may say this unit weren’t as successful as they
could have been, but I don’t think Boston would tell you that. They are proud of this unit, they love this unit more than the championship unit to be fair. It’s more the camaraderie and the damn fight that this team played with, you could tell Pierce, KG, Allen & Rondo genuinely enjoyed playing together despite any stories of squabbles off court you may have heard about. I personally would love to see KG & Allen resigned, but I don’t think it’ll happen. Pierce we still have for 2 years and he has said he’ll be back, KG loves Boston, and I’m sure deep down he would love to resign over joining any other team but I have a crazy feeling that he may actually just announce his
retirement despite him proving this year that he is more than still up to it. Allen is the piece that I think will be off though, as much as I
worship the man it may be time to move on. There’s been talk over the past day or two suggesting he may resign also, but I doubt it. Avery Bradley showed this year that he could actually work playing in the same 5 as Rondo, and defensively the Celtics have a player of real, real talent on their hands. This is where I think the Celtics should be putting their focus into… youth. Reports suggest that Jeff Green will be back next year, which will be a huge addition and the cap space that will be freed up this off-season should be used wisely.
Having a good draft pick this year could also prove to work in the Celtics favour too, but going on previous years Doc does tend to give very minimal minutes to rookies if any at all. If the right moves are made this offseason, next year could be a very good year for Boston, and one that could potentially be the start of something new.
Sam: How do Boston approach next season… maintain the momenteum. If I am living breathing Celtic green I want to see Garnett resigned even if its for one or two years to help the Celtics through the period ahead. I will have to give up some beloved pieces to get better – somehow I have to trade Rondo & Bass or Bass, Avery and Pietrus for some solid draft picks or a solid core (another guard) I can build around. With Garnett losing his battle with father time, its time to find a replacement. Celtics needs piece who can slot into his role. Gasol would be ideal but it would be a tough deal to work. Saying good bye to the Big 3 wont be as hard as replacing them.
Nick M: Sadly, yes. I would not have been mad if they’d made another Finals series (and in the unlikely event of a ‘chip, this group would have deserved another year together. But alas. In my opinion I think the C’s need to keep Kevin Garnett (who found the elixir and seemed to reverse the ageing process during the playoff run, Ray Allen is likely gone – Avery Bradley is the future along with Rondo. Boston should keep a healthy mix of veterans (Paul Pierce, KG) and blend them with some younger additions via free agency. They should have some good cap space available to them this summer, Allen will be off the books and KG won’t be demanding anything close to what he received this year.
Chad: The ECF was great, It showed why Miami need Bosh to combat the big players, it showed that Boston is still a team that can compete with the Elite top Tier Teams. Garnet played better this season than the last IMO, Ray Ray (yes I still yell that when he hits a 3) got better as the series went on and Paul Pierce was Paul Pierce (even though he fouled out 3 of 7). Rondo stepped up all season. He had an awesome ECF 4 Dub-Dub’s one of which was a 44pts-10Ass-8Reb game and a Trip-Dub in game 7 22Pts-14Ass-10Reb and was IMO Boston’s best and most consistent player all season. As for what happens next season I think the ECF will have allot to do with that, Doc only signed up last for 1 more run as he wants to spend more time with his family and I think When he goes you may see Garnet call it quits and Ray Ray might follow suit. If not I think he may get packaged off somewhere as a 7th man coming of the bench. Rondo is a great piece to build around, when he matures a little more and stops getting stupid T’s (seriously who bumps a ref to get a point across) he will push to be the best PG in the League. Depending on retirements and off season moves Boston will still make the Playoffs but without know who they might actually get I cant make much of a call on how far. Does anyone really think Pau will end up in Boston?
Jamey: Celtics simply need to get some thoroughbreds to run w/Rondo. Avery Bradley will be back, but I’d still like to see them grab someone w/length. Josh Smith is 1 name that comes to mind. But before anything happens, we have to see what KG does. His decision to stay or go means so much to this team in many facets.
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