There isn’t a bigger stage in the hoops world than the NBA Finals and today was definitely no exception. The Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs put on a game to remember as the Spurs took the win away from home in a thriller to lead the series 1-0.
The game started well for the Spurs with a 9-2 run but the Heat responded with a 7-0 run of their own. Chris Bosh was shooting the ball well early as Duncan struggled to score but had 5 rebounds and 3 assists in the first. The Heat shot the ball better at 52.9% from the field compared with San Antonio’s 42.9% and the Heat took a 24-23 lead into the break.
The second quarter was another see-sawing affair. The Spurs defensive rotations weren’t up to scratch early as Ray Allen hit a three to start the quarter and Mike Miller and Norris Cole followed up with three pointers of their own soon after, which took Miami to 6 -11 from the 3 point line. The Spurs offense was patient relying on ball movement but the Heat were in the driver’s seat early in the period.
Some could excuse Tim Duncan for putting in some sub-par performances throughout these playoffs with his pending divorce hanging over his head. However Duncan, the consumate professional, has not let these problems get to him, even beginning to close in on Magic Johnson’s record for most double-doubles in the post season.
Howdy folks! We’re back today with the latest team season preview taking a look at Western Conference favorites the Oklahoma City Thunder, Perennial dark horses the Philadelphia 76ers (or will they be?) and southern giant killers the San Antonio Spurs. Enjoy!
Oklahoma City Thunder
How Will They Do?
Oklahoma City are the NBA’s darlings, rising out of the ashes of the Seattle Sonics. Last year they fulfilled what most predicted – making it to the NBA Finals before being steamrolled by the Heat juggernaut. This season brings another series of high expectations and even more challenges. As the Lakers rebuilt and retooled for another assault on the title the Thunder took stock and made very few changes. Last season was an important moment for this franchise as it gave them the irrational confidence that they can now reach the highest heights. The biggest story line coming out of this camp this season will be can they re-sign James Harden? Currently the team is cash strapped. They hold the contracts of Durant, Westbrook, Perkins and Ibaka in their hands. Harden is the icing on this cake, coming off the bench with confidence, fearless determination and one of the best ball handlers in the league. Harden’s presence cements this team atop the Western Conference, without him there is an air of uncertainty. We really like how the Thunder have built upon their roster and given themselves depth at most positions. Collison & Jones backing up Ibaka & Durant as newest Thunder recruit Thabeet brings size off the bench. Harden, Maynor and Cook act as dynamite off the bench lifting the tempo of the team whenever they are on-court. Sure it’s not the deepest team in the league but it’s one of the most reliable, you know what you will get from your bench. Very similar to Moneyball it’s about working your way to a win any way you can. Coach Brooks knows this, has assembled a squad capable of challenging every team in the league. This team is one of the most explosive and dynamic in the league, a League Pass must every night. There is no doubting they have the talent, if they can just sprinkle in a dash of experience (gained from the 2011/12 Finals & Olympics) this team could destroy the Western Conference. Look for them to pick up 55-65 wins this year.
With the NBA just around the corner, the team at NBA Nation Australia decided to take a look at who we think are the current 25 Best players in the league. We thought it was going to be easy and that we would all agree, ha! If it was only that simple. After days of discussion and a few little arguments, we have finally managed to put together a list! Am sure some of you will think we have been too generous with some spots, too hard on some players, or just downright crazy!? Check it out and let us know!
Popovich’s coaching attitude is best described by his recent on court musings – “Get Nasty”. Coach Pop is tough, demanding and technical. This could be drawing influence from his early days in the Air Force. He and his staff only draft players which fit into their system, each trade the Spurs make seems to strike gold.
Popovich has been in the league since 1987 and with the Spurs since 1994 where he began as VP of Basketball operations. Each player that walks the black and silver boards finds the coach to be a father figure, strong and unrelenting in his beliefs. The Spurs have created a dynasty around Popovich and players like Duncan, Parker and Ginobilli.
Live music, face paint, chants, the Spurs enjoy some of the most parochial support in the NBA. The Spurs can count Eva Longoria, Selena Gomez ESPN’s Michelle Beadle, and WWE’s Shawn Michaels among their celebrity fans. But the Spurs don’t want acknowledgement they play hard at home or away. The Spur crowd are fiercely loyal, an expectation to win, understand their teams strategy (drafting Duncan whilst Robinson was fading in 1997), one of the classiest crowds in all the NBA (this is reflected in the Spurs attitudes on and off court).
Key Player: Tony Parker
Determined, unstoppable and sneaky describe Parker, he is the only Frenchman you would want fighting for you. A playoff average of 18.9 points per game coupled with 5.9 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game Parker is a constant pillar in this Spurs team whether its supporting his team from the bench or serving as their coach on the court. He has the speed of a much younger player, the ball skills of some of the NBA’s best ball handlers and the brain’s equal to some of the NBA’s best coaches.