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NBA Playoffs

This tag is associated with 15 posts

NBA: Has the Miami Heat Lost Their Sizzle?

This time last year all anyone could talk about is how the Miami Heat were the clear cut favorites to win an NBA Championship. Most of the experts had declared that the Miami Heat were going to cut down the net and hoist up a banner at the beginning of this season. That plan was derailed by the Dallas Mavericks last season and this year does not look like the Miami Heat’s year either.

If the Miami Heat cannot finish games in the NBA Playoffs they might knock themselves out of contention.

Last season NBA teams were scared when the Miami Heat came to their city. Opposing NBA teams did not know what to expect and by the time a team adjusted the game was over. The Miami Heat looked like a good team during the last NBA season and turned the corner into a great team during the NBA playoffs.

This season the tide has turned for the Miami Heat. No NBA teams are in awe of the Miami Heat anymore. The fear has subsided and the majority of the NBA teams have adjusted to the Miami Heat’s style of play. Some NBA teams still cannot muster a victory based on pure talent but other teams like the Chicago Bulls have no problem “Putting the Smack down” on the Miami Heat.

The Chicago Bulls have the talent to prevent the Miami Heat from reaching their goal

Any game the Miami Heat played, last season, was the hottest ticket in town. Now the Miami Heat have lost a great deal of their shiny luster and sizzle. The Miami Heat games this season are maybe the third or fourth hottest ticket in town. The team is no longer the favorite to win anything. The best the Miami Heat will do is make a deep playoff run.

Kevin Durant,  Russell Westbrook, and the Oklahoma City Thunder are the favorites to win it all this year

The Chicago Bulls and the Boston Celtics will make it hard for the Miami Heat to make it out of the Eastern Conference. Moreover, even if the Miami Heat do make it out of the Eastern Conference the team will most likely be playing the Oklahoma City Thunder or the San Antonio Spurs. Both of these teams should have no problem handling the Miami Heat. The Oklahoma City Thunder would be the tougher matchup out of the two teams though. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden make for a tough matchup for any team in the NBA, including the Miami Heat. Not to mention, the bench of the Oklahoma City Thunder is much deeper than that of the Miami Heat. Over a long series the Oklahoma City Thunder chances of obtaining victory over the Miami Heat is very good.

Will the Miami Heat once again be defeated in their second attempt at obtaining an NBA Championship?

The Miami Heat have yet to prove that they have the Championship formula and this year does not look like one that will confirm that the Miami Heat will be World Champions. The Miami Heat have too much to overcome to accomplish that goal. The Miami Heat depend solely on their “Big Three” to win the majority of their games. Without a real bench to speak of, the Miami Heat will be in trouble all Playoff Season long. The Miami Heat may very well end up being a team with a legacy of having great talent but one without a Championship.

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NBA: This is the Year, but Who’s Year?

The Miami Heat this year are once again poised to win it all. The Heat have the best record in the Eastern Conference and are playing up to the level everyone expected. The Miami Heat look like a team that can make a deep playoff run and win the whole NBA Championship. Lebron James could very well achieve his first NBA Championship this year.

Hold on though, the road will not be easy. I am not even sure that the Heat will make it out of the Eastern Conference with the Chicago Bulls playing well and the emergence of the “new look” New York Knicks. I might even say that the Miami Heat may have had their best chance to obtain a Championship ring last season. While the Heat are not a pushover by any means, many teams are adjusting to their style of play. In addition, other teams are constructing their own Championship caliber rosters to challenge the Miami Heat.

Who wins the Eastern Conference this year?

The Dallas Mavericks can of course cause some trouble for the Miami Heat if they see them again in the NBA Finals. The San Antonio Spurs could pose some interesting matchups for the Miami Heat and may be able to pull off a miracle similar to the Dallas Mavericks improbable playoff run last year. However, the Oklahoma City Thunder could very well not only be a challenge for the Heat but be one of the only teams that can prevent the Heat from reaching their goal for a second consecutive year.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are two of the most dominant scorers in the game. Serge Ibaka is a defensive force in the middle and James Harden may very well be the new Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson. The Miami Heat will have their work cut out for them if they see the Thunder in the NBA Finals. I am confident that the Thunder will have no problem finishing games this year.

We know which one has proven to be more clutch….

Kevin Durant is as clutch as they come when the game is on the line. Give Durant any sort of room and he will shoot “the dagger” that will put the game out of reach any time. On the other side we have Lebron James who has still yet to prove that he can finish important games. If James has a meltdown in the 4th quarter during playoff games like last year, the Miami Heat will have a hard time even making the NBA Finals. In addition, once the Miami Heat make the Finals, if Lebron James is still having the same issue, the curtain could fall on the Miami Heat show again.

It is a distinct possibility that the Miami Heat will lose in the playoffs again this year, and everyone will say the experiment has failed. The Miami Heat will have tried to bringing players with phenomenal talent together without the teamwork needed to be successful. If Lebron James does not win this year can he truly keep the name “King” James? All the kings I have ever read about have crowns and Lebron James will be lacking one. Maybe Lebron James will need to take on a new moniker. I am voting for “Knight” James until Lebron James can prove that he can deliver at least one of the many promised rings to South Beach.

The NBA Season Begins and the Predictions are Here!

In a season where “World Peace” is actually a name of a player, we are seeing some fast starts from some expected and unexpected teams. We are also seeing some very slow starts from teams we expected to be much better. The new NBA season and the New Year will definitely be full of twists and turns. It is already easy to tell that the playoffs will feature some teams that traditionally are not playoff power houses. Since the season is shortened and passing us by rather quickly I am going to give out some predictions for the current NBA season.

Some love to state what their New Year resolutions are going to be but I am stating some New Year predictions. Below are some predictions about the NBA. When the season does end in 2012, we can look back and see how I did.

Prediction # 1 The Miami Heat will win the East. I know this is the easy pick and that most experts are picking the Heat to repeat. I think some teams will challenge Miami, like Chicago, and even Boston when they turn things around. However, I cannot see any team that can go win a seven game playoff series against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference. Each team that can challenges the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference is missing a key player here or there to overcome Miami’s Big Three. A great deal of people will root against the Miami Heat all year long, including Dan Gilbert, the Cleveland Cavaliers owner, but this story is almost written in stone.

Prediction # 2:  The Los Angeles Lakers will be a low seed playoff team. The Lakers have been a team to be reckoned with for many years but this year is not their year. The Los Angeles Lakers have a new coach with a new system, lost one of their best players in Lamar Odom; just do not look like they have it together this season. In addition, if the Los Angeles Lakers manage to pull off a trade for Dwight Howard, they will give up many of pieces of their current team. Moreover, it will take Dwight Howard time to become acclimated to the team. If the Lakers decide to stay with their current roster, without out the “Real Deal” Phil in town I do not see them winning the majority of their games. The Los Angeles Lakers will make the playoffs but their chances of going all the way to the finals are very slim.

Prediction # 3 The San Antonio Spurs will win the Western Conference. Most people are already crowning the Oklahoma City Thunder the favorites but I believe the Spurs have one more good run left in them. In addition, Gregg Popovich is a master at getting his players to perform at their highest level each game. Tim Duncan is looking like his old self and not in the decrepit, needing a cane, sort-of-way. Manu Ginobli is still knocking down shots and Tony Parker is proving he retains the skills of a top league point guard. With all the other San Antonio Spurs role players contributing, the team is looking like a team that could give any team trouble in the playoffs.The Oklahoma City Thunder may have one of the best players in Kevin Durant. The Thunder also have good supporting players is Russell Westbrook and James Harden but I still do not believe their chemistry is there yet to make it to the NBA finals.

Prediction #4 The Miami Heat will win their first NBA championship this year with the Big Three.  Lebron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade by themselves will be too much for most teams. Add in the other players on the Miami Heat roster and the Heat should win the majority of their games this season. In the playoffs, we will see if the Miami Heat can finish games. I believe the Miami Heat are learning that Dwayne Wade is the finisher on the team and at the end of game Wade will knock down the game winner. As long as the Miami Heat allows Lebron James, Chris Bosh to contribute, and Dwayne Wade to finish, they should be fine throughout the playoffs. However, if the Miami Heat depends on King James to finish games we may see a repeat of last year. Lebron James just does not finish games well when it truly counts. Despite Lebron James having issues handling the clutch situations, the Miami Heat will overcome this and many other obstacles to hoist the trophy at the end of the season.

The above predictions may or may not come true, but that makes them very similar to normal New Year’s resolutions. Most people make New Year’s resolutions and about two or three months after they are made, the majority of them are not completed. On the other hand, some resolutions are actually seen through to completion. Whether I am right or wrong, a great season of NBA basketball is ahead. Only time will tell who will become the true champion in the end.

The Heart of a Champion

The Mavericks were crowned NBA Champions as they finished the Heat off on Sunday. It was a great series to watch and renewed the NBA excitement for some people. Dirk Nowitzki proved he is a true all star. The Heat proved talent can only take a team so far. A team needs teamwork and mental toughness. The Mavericks had both with a conglomeration of players that were considered past their prime.

Dirk Nowitzki was the leader, but every person on the team chipped in. Shawn Marion found energy he didn’t have since his days as a Phoenix Sun. Jason Kidd proved why he is going in the Hall of Fame. J.J. Barea delivered an offensive spark at many needed times throughout the Mavericks playoff run. Brian Cardinal became a household name as the announcers mentioned his college nickname, “The Custodian”, many times. Jason Terry had fans talking about he is the new version of Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson.  The story of the Dallas Mavericks is a feel good story that any serious or casual basketball fan can fall in love with.

Everything was against the Mavericks being successful and the team managed to overcome every obstacle put in front of them. Watching the Dallas Mavericks was like watching a hero in a movie taking on villain. The villain in this series and basically all season long was the Miami Heat. The Miami Heat became the villain when their confidence became arrogance. Stating how many championships your team will win without ever playing a game is like a big slap in the face to every other team in the league.

Lebron James was the most vocal one of the Miami Heat, “Big Three”. James turned the majority of the public against him not only by his move to broadcast “The Decision”, but also by his attitude throughout the whole year. I have often said pride and arrogance will destroy people who have great potential and Lebron James is no different. It was apparent, in the Playoff Finals; Lebron James thought he should be dominating every Dallas Maverick player guarding him. James face showed shock every time he missed a shot or did not get a foul call his way. With every mistake Lebron James became more frustrated and confidence faltered. By the time the fourth quarter of each game rolled around there was no coming out of the hole; Lebron James had built for himself. I am confident more people were happy to see King James fail, rather than the people actually happy for the Mavericks.

The majority of people did not want to see the Miami Heat win and about ninety percent of the reason was due to Lebron James being on the team. The Miami Heat “Big Three” came together because they believed that they would win a Championship this year.  They were confident that no team would be able to stop a team with their talent. When the Los Angeles Lakers were eliminated, the Heat believed that this year would be the year they win it all. The Miami Heat were wrong.

The New Generation

The old generation is on it’s way out and soon we will call them legends and our focus will be on the rising stars. It is always good for any professional sport to experience “game changers”, so to speak. This keeps the league and sport exciting.While it is nice to see one team or the same teams win all the time. After a while, this makes the particular sports playoff and championship boring. When a new team has a chance to win or an unexpected team makes a playoff run, that is what makes sports exciting. I am glad to see the new generation coming to the forefront. I am excited to see how long this reign will last and how this all plays out.

The new generation has officially been ushered in. We are at the turning point where certain people fade out and other people rise up. This is happening in all sorts of professional sports but we can see it more clear in the NBA and the NFL. The old generation is retiring seeing that the game is changing and their time is done. Shaquille O’Neal sent a tweet yesterday that he is retiring. He is not coming back and has realized that he cannot contribute at a professional level anymore. O’Neal has been a great player and will go down as a legend for all he has accomplished. However, it has been painful to watch Shaq the last couple of seasons. O’neal spent a great deal of time injured and was hardly was worth having on the team. On the rare occasion when he was healthy, it was easy to see that Shaq had lost a step.

In addition, the Boston Celtics with a roster composed of older players, could not compete with the Miami Heat. The Miami Heat have three of the best players in the NBA, who are still in their prime. The Miami Heat are now taking on the Dallas Mavericks and once again, the newer generation of the NBA player is dominating an older generation. I know it has only been one game but it does not look good for the Dallas Mavericks after watching the game Tuesday night.

This NBA season we saw a young electrifying player in Derrick Rose win the MVP. He has redefined the point guard position by not just scoring but finding so many ways to create his own shot. Moreover, most of his shots are gravity defying dunks and layups. Derrick Rose led the Bulls all the way to the Eastern conference finals, similar to another young player.

Kevin Durant has not been in the league that long and already has been a scoring champion. This year Durant, along with a team composed of players in their early 20’s led his team to the Western Conference Finals. The Oklahoma City Thunder was definitely the youngest team in the playoffs but overcame many challenges. Age did not matter and neither did playoff experience as Oklahoma piled up playoff wins. They proved they are a team on the rise and in the next few years could be winning a NBA title as well.

In the NFL, we finally see that Brett Favre is retiring. Randy Moss, Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens are all at the end of their times of dominance. Peyton Manning while an elite quarterback cannot overcome the lack of talent at key positions. Meanwhile, we have Aaron Rodgers and the Packers winning the Super Bowl Title. Matt Ryan has become an elite quarterback with a team who is on the brink of becoming great. Phillip Rivers is proving he can will his team to become a playoff contender. Matt Ryan, Jahvid Best, and Calvin Johnson are bringing the lions from laughing stock to contention. The point is it is the time of the “New Generation” in sports. The time of the changing of the guard is upon us

Heart of a Champion

When people talk about having the “Heart of a Champion”, they are referring to an athlete or team’s ability to persevere in bad circumstances. True champions overcome bad circumstances on a regular basis. That is what separates the champions from all the others. Seems like lately we are seeing less championship athletes, teams, and coaches. We are only seeing more of the teams that are hoping to get there. I hope that the trend will not last and professional sports will take a turn towards a brighter future.

In professional sports, two types of athletes represent the majority of the players. The first type is a professional athlete that is good but never a champion. The second type is the championship athlete who can win “The Big Game.” The main difference between each type of athlete is how they handle adversity.

Adversity is defined as state of hardship or affliction; misfortune. Professional sports athletes deal with adversity all the time and recently, we have seen quite a few good examples. In the NBA playoffs, we can see clear examples of not only players, but also teams that handle adversity in a bad way. In addition, we can see examples of teams that handle adversity in a good way.

The NBA Playoff Finals start today and how the two teams managed to win their last playoff series is by overcoming adversity in multiple games. Both the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks had games where they had to overcome double digit deficits in the 4th quarter to win. Both teams accomplished the comeback with a little more than five minutes left. The Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks could have seen the deficit as impossible to overcome. Instead, the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks buckled down and rose up to meet the challenge.

The Heat and Mavericks showed they have a heart of a championship team. Their two opponents were the Oklahoma Thunder and the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls and Thunder did not know how to handle adversity. When things started to go south for both teams, the Bulls and Thunder panicked.Oklahoma City and Chicago froze under the pressure of the Conference Finals. With each play, the Bulls and Thunder watched their chances slip away. We can see that neither team had experience in how to “right the ship” so to speak when they were sinking.

Another good example that just came to a conclusion recently is the current situation going on with Jim Tressel, who coaches Ohio State Football. Tressel and some Ohio State football players were involved in a scandal. The Ohio State Football players, which included Terrell Pryor, the star Quarterback, sold Ohio State memorabilia for profit and also received special benefits from car dealerships. The result for their actions was the NCAA suspended the five Ohio State players for five games for the upcoming college football season. Tressel took it upon himself to make sure all of the Ohio State players were going to return for this new college football season. It looked like Tressel was handling the adversity well. That was until yesterday when Tressel resigned as the head coach. The pressure became too much for Tressel and he folded under it.

The NBA Finals Are Upon Us…Well Almost

It’s official the Dallas Maverick have finally done it. They are officially the Western Conference Champions of the NBA. It is no surprise that the Dallas Mavericks were able to close out the Oklahoma City Thunder last night. The Mavericks won the series 4-1 and proved they are a team that deserves a shot at winning a Championship. The Mavericks clearly had the best player on the floor in Dirk Nowitzki.

The Thunder could not contain Nowitzki, he scored anytime he wanted to. When Oklahoma City did foul him, Nowitzki knocked down free throws unconsciously. I do not see a true weakness in Dirk Nowitzki’s game. He is seven foot tall and it is almost impossible to block his shot, because of his height and length. He often shoots off balance or off one foot and makes the majority of those shots. Dirk Nowitzki even is a great three point shooter and teams have to guard him out at the three point line. He is truly a player who cannot be guarded well.

It is almost a lock that the Dallas Mavericks will be playing the Miami Heat in the next series. The Heat have three all stars who can take over a game in Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. The Miami Heat have surprised many people by dominating each of their playoff series. Normally, I would say that the Mavericks would have almost no shot beating the Heat. However, after seeing the Mavericks handle the Lakers, I believe they may actually have a good shot to upset the Heat.

The Heat have not had an opponent that has a similar lineup to the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks are definitely the best three point shooting team the Miami Heat have faced. They have three of the best three point shooters in NBA League history in Peja Stojakovic, Jason Terry, and Dirk Nowitzki. In addition, Jason Kidd has developed into a nice three point shooter as well. Moreover, Dirk Nowitzki still has all the intangibles that we mentioned earlier in this post. The Miami Heat have their work cut out for them.

I am not by any means saying that the Miami Heat is not an equally talented team. I am saying that the series is not going to be as lopsided as some people may think. I actually think the series will go the full seven games. The series will be a battle of the Miami Heat’s Big Three versus Dirk Nowitzki and the bench of the Dallas Mavericks. King James could have his first royal coronation or Dirk Nowitzki can solidify his legacy. The series is not an easy one to declare a winner but will be one of the most, if not the most exciting series of the NBA Playoffs.

The Oklohoma City Meltdown

Last night the Oklahoma City Thunder took on the Dallas Mavericks.Oklahoma City needed to win last night to tie up the series at 2-2. Dallas wanted to win to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series. Oklahoma City coming into the game had not lost back to back games all post season. Destiny was supposed to be on the Oklahoma City Thunder’s side.

Of course, Destiny is very fickle and sometimes changes sides. Oklahoma City came out on fire. The Thunder made their first 5 shots. Oklahoma City started the game out with all the fervor that everyone expected. The Thunder looked like a team that wanted to win and nothing was going to stop them.

Kevin Durant redeemed himself a little from his previous 7-22 performance from Saturday. Kevin Durant shot 9-22 last night, which was better than Saturday but not by much. The Dallas Mavericks ran constant double teams at Durant and limited the number of good shots he could take. Russell Westbrook did not fare much better as he went 7-22 of the field. The Oklahoma City role players played exceptionally well though. Nick Collison, Serge Ibaka, Thabo Sefolosha, and James Harden all had good games. Due to the play of their role players the Oklahoma City Thunder was able to build a good lead. The Thunder had a lead of 15 points with five minutes left in the 4th quarter and then it happened.

Dirk Nowitzki turned on his second gear. Nowitzki went on a run all on his own. He hit shot after shot to close the gap on the lead. It was amazing to watch as most of the shots were off balance and fade away shots. The Thunder tried everything they could muster to stop Dirk Nowitzki’s offensive onslaught. However, with each possession Oklahoma City looked more and more helpless to stop Nowitzki from scoring. The lead that was a 15 point lead with five minutes to go dwindled down to a shocking zero points all due to the game play of one player.

At the end of regulation, the Mavericks had a chance to win the game. Dallas failed to connect on the last second shot. The game went into overtime and was truly already over, before the first overtime possession. The Mavericks had taken the wind out of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s sails and the team looked lost. The Thunder looked as if they had no life or energy left. The team was shell shocked and they were not going to recover.

The dagger in overtime was a three point shot from Jason Kidd with 40.3 seconds left. The Thunder squandered their chances away to get a good shot. Kevin Durant attempted a long three pointer and the shot and fell short off the front of the rim. That shot was the last chance for the Thunder to try to tie the game up again. However, by this time the momentum was all on Dallas Maverick’s side. If the Thunder had gone into an additional overtime, the outcome would have been the same. The Thunder team had already given up.

The game was a good example of a team with no playoff poise. The Thunder did not know what to do when everything started to go south in a hurry. The team could not get into a rhythm or even run a play correctly.Oklahoma City can use the excuse they have a young team, but in reality the team just needs to learn what to do when things start to get out of control. The NBA Playoffs are all about handling the unexpected situations and momentum changes in a good way. The great teams persevere when the challenge presents itself. The good teams may and often times will fold when faced with adversity.

Last night Oklahoma City showed that they are a good team but lacking the qualities of a great team. No timetable is set for when Oklahoma City will reach the next level of being classified along with the elite teams. The fans can only hope its sooner than later. This playoff series is a learning experience for Oklahoma City. We can only hope The Thunder use the experience to help them grow and not take a step back.

Round 2 Heat – Bulls, Sweet Redemption!

The battle has ensued in the NBA Playoffs. Last night the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls took to the floor. This game is the critical game two of the series and is generally the determining game to the momentum of the series. If Miami can win, the Heat even up the series. If Chicago wins they have stranglehold on the series going into Miami. At the beginning of the year no one could of predicted these two teams to meet in the Eastern Conference Finals. Most people thought Miami would be here, but no one thought the Bulls would be here. Derrick Rose blossomed overnight and became one of the true elite players in the NBA. When it was announced these two teams would meet in the finals, most people thought Miami would dominate the playoff series.

How wrong the majority was about the Bulls as an opponent. The Bulls have put together quite a game plan to give Miami a significant challenge. The first game the Bulls ran away with the game. The second game last night was much closer and competitive battle. The Heat came back and achieved some redemption. The game was a defensive battle for both teams. However, in this game Miami had the more stifling defense.

Watching the game, anyone could see how hard it was for the Bulls to get the same good looks they got in game one. The Heat employed a great deal of double teams in every area of the floor. Miami was able to keep Chicago off the boards and out rebound the Bulls 45-41 throughout the whole game. In addition, The Miami Heat held the Chicago Bulls to 3-20 from the 3 point line. This is an area where Chicago dominated Miami in the first game. Derrick Rose was held to only 7-23 from the field, finishing with 21 points. Open shots were at a premium and good defensive schemes took its toll on both teams.

An unexpected difference maker was Udonis Haslem who came in and gave the Heat a spark. Haslem entered the game, having only played 13 games all season. Haslem scored 13 points, one block, five rebounds, one steal, and two assists in 23 minutes. Udonis Haslem hustled like he had been playing all season. Haslem definitely had no rust to shake off, as he made play after play. At the end of the game, though it was Lerbon James, not Haslem that put the game out of reach.  Lebron James came through with 9 points in the 4th quarter to give the Heat the final lead of the game.

The series is by no means over and is just beginning but now the Heat have the momentum as the next game is in Miami. Another down to the minute game is expected and the battlefield is Miami. Each team has one victory but the war is far from over. Sunday we find out who will take the lead in the series. The Heat are ready to defend their home court. The Bulls are ready to come into Miami and steal a game. The excitement is building and every NBA fan should get ready for a great series ahead. This Bulls-Heat series will be one for the ages.

The NBA Playoff Surprise

The Eastern Conference Finals started on Sunday and The Miami Heat had all the momentum coming into the game. The Heat had closed out theBoston Celtics in a hard fought series and it looked as if the Heat were finally coming into their own. The Miami Heat have three of the top players in the league on their team in Dwayne Wade, Lebron James, and Chris Bosh. Those three players should give the Miami Heat a distinct disadvantage over every team. The Heat should be blowing teams out by 20 or 30 points no matter which teams they play.

Very few teams can match the talent level of the Miami Heat’s top 3 top players. The problem is that is where the exceptional talent on the Miami Heat’s team stops. Below the top 3 players on the team is a mish mash of players past their prime and some so-so role players. James Jones, Mike Miller, Jamal Magloire, Juwan Howard and a slew of others who hardly contribute anything to the team. It is safe to say that eighty percent to ninety percent of the Heat’s scoring each game comes from the “Big 3”.  

This is the exact reason the Heat started the Eastern Conference Finals with a loss to the Chicago Bulls. While some look at the Chicago Bulls and say all they have is Derrick Rose and if a team can shut him down, they can beat the Bulls easily. This is not the case concerning the Bulls at all. The Bulls have one great advantage over the Miami Heat and that is bench depth. Not only do the Bulls have the top point guard in the league in Derrick Rose but they also have players like Carlos Boozer, Taj Gibson, Joakim Noah, Loul Deng, and Kyle Korver. Each of these players plays a vital role in each game the Bulls play. They Heat have no players who compare after their “Big 3”. Wade, James and Bosh have to play the majority of the game to be competitive with the Bulls and over a series of games; this will take its toll on Wade, James, and Bosh.

Chicago has enough depth that over a series, the Bulls can rest their players, bringing in other players to lighten the burden of playing time. While the Bulls may not have the “Big 3”, the Bulls have more players who each fit a specific role on their team. Derrick Rose may be the one who makes the team’s engine run so to speak, but even a railroad needs a team of people to make the train run properly. While many thought once the Heat defeated the Celtics the team would cruise into the NBA Finals. This is going to be far from the truth.

The Miami Heat may have just walked from stove into a frying pan. Only they are not the ones sizzling now. The sizzle is all in the city of Chicago and Derrick Rose is the perfect ringleader to dash the dreams of the Heat and the “Big 3”. The Bulls-Heat series will be another intriguing series. We have not seen the last of the surprises of this series. Keep in mind the West Series has not even started yet and that looks to be a great series as well with the Dallas Mavericks and the Oklohoma City Thunder. With all the major basketball powerhouses gone including the Lakers, Celtics, and Spurs, this year an unexpected champion will be crowned. No clear cut favorite has emerged thus far. We can only sit and enjoy the show, the drama, and the fantastic plays.

The Miami Heat Are On The Rise

Sometimes it takes quite a while for professional sports teams to find a winning formula. The players on a team can have all the talent in the World but they have to be able to cooperate with one another. We have seen championship teams that have less talent than other teams, but somehow they still win. Then we have seen teams with a great deal of talent and they fail to win. When a team has both great talent and the players know how to play together, the sky is the limit.

Jordan, Pippen, and the Chicago Bulls fit this mold. Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and the Los Angeles Lakers also fit into this category. Now we have the Miami Heat finally living up to the hype and doing the same. During the regular season, the Heat looked lost as times. The Miami Heat could not finish games or beat opponents with records above .500 on any consistent basis. Now in the playoffs, things seem to have come together for the Miami Heat. The Heat are finally playing at the level many predicted before the season started. The roles on the team are now very clear. Dwayne Wade is the go to or first option. Lebron James is the second option and Bosh is a great complimentary role player. The roles had to be defined for the Miami Heat to be successful. Watching the Miami Heat is pure poetry in motion. The team is almost next impossible to stop.

Moreover, without the pressure of carrying the team on his shoulders, Lebron James plays a better game. Lebron plays with more freedom and is accomplishing feats He never did when playing in the regular season. At the end of the fourth quarter in last night’s play off game versus the Boston Celtics, Lebron James hit a three pointer with 2:10 left in the game. James then hit another three pointer with 40.4 seconds to put the game out of reach and clench the playoff series. Earlier in the year and even last year, Lebron James would not come through in these game-deciding situations. In this new role, Lebron James is beginning to excel and find his place.

Dwayne Wade has taken his proper place in running the offense and being the catalyst that gets the Miami Heat engine going each game. Wade is not only great at creating his own shot but also making other players better. Furthermore, if teams do not respect Dwayne Wade’s abilities to take over a game. Wade can do just that and make his opponents pay for their mistake. If teams try to double team Wade then that leaves either James or Bosh open to knock down some shots. When it all comes together watching the Heat is exciting and anyone can see how truly dominating they can be.

The Miami Heat’s biggest enemy in the playoffs is themselves. If they stick to a good game plan and everybody stays in their defined roles than the Heat may win a NBA championship this year. On the other hand, if the Miami Heat revert to their old ways they could be sent home.The Big Three of the Heat are beginning to play like champions and defeating teams that beat them in the regular season such as the Celtics. We are seeing the Heat finally rise up and take their rightful place among the elite teams of the NBA. No teams have any more pure talent than the Heat. The NBA playoffs are the Miami Heat’s to lose. The NBA Playoffs can be painful or rewarding for each team. The Miami Heat have a good chance to claim the ultimate reward this year. Even though history tells us, the Heat have a chance to experience sadness instead of joy. We can only hope the days of sadness are far behind them.

The Super-Mavs!

Superhero movies are the big thing lately. We have at least one superhero movie released every summer. No matter which superhero the movie is about, the plot is always the same. A super-villain threatens the city or world and the villain seems unstoppable. The superhero goes to confront the villain and gets defeated. Then the superhero digs down deep in his soul and overcomes the villain in the end.

This same kind of plot can be applied to one of the current NBA series that just finished. The Los Angeles Lakers would be the super-villain and the Dallas Mavericks were the superhero. The Los Angeles Lakers have dominated the playoffs the last 2 years. No one could beat them. The Lakers would come back no matter what the circumstances and be victorious in any playoff series. The Lakers always found a way to be on top and never taste defeat. That was until the Dallas Mavericks showed up.

The Mavericks should have had the Superman music in the background because they came to the rescue of the playoffs. Everybody expected the Lakers to win another Championship. The pieces were in place, the Lakers have the best closer in basketall in Kobe Bryant. The Lakers have the best coach in Phil Jackson. The Lakers always had an advantage with their length. The playoffs were almost getting to the point of being predictable. The Lakers would take down whoever they played and end up in the finals every year. Then they might struggle some but they would be spraying champagne in the end.

Now the unexpected has happened and the Lakers were taken down by a team that outplayed them. Not only did the Lakers lose they also were swept by the Dallas Mavericks. The Lakers did not even put up a fight against the Mavericks and win at least one game. Each game the Mavericks wore the Lakers down more and more mentally. The Lakers looked more disorganized each time they stepped on the court. It was similar to when a boxer throws that punch that dazes their opponent before the knockout punch. The knockout punch of the Mavericks was pure poetry in motion as Jason Terry went 9-10 from 3-point range and Peja Stojakovic went 6-6 from the 3 point range. The Dallas Mavericks went 20-32 from 3-point range. When a team is on shooting streak like the Mavericks were,  any team would be hard pressed to keep up.

However, the Lakers did not put up much of a fight to stop the Mavericks 3-point shooting spree. Most of the 3 point shots taken by the Mavericks were wide open baskets because of the Lakers poor defense. Just as many villains have acted when their plans were foiled by the superhero, the Lakers showed how much they despised losing the series. Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum committed flagrant fouls when the game was out of hand. Both players were ejected from the game, but there was no reason to make those fouls. The fouls were committed because the players were upset by losing and being swept by a team they considered less talented.

Through all the talk of how the Lakers were going to win, the unsportsmanlike conduct and a history of losing in the playoffs, the Mavericks overcame it all. The Mavericks are now moving on to the Western Conference finals with well deserved victory. Every superhero has his day and the Mavericks certainly have had theirs by defeating the defending Champion Los Angeles Lakers. Now the Mavericks await their next challenge as the other Western Conference series is still on going. The Dallas Mavericks have to rise to the occasion once again. Unfortunately, we will have to wait to see how this Dallas Mavericks story truly ends.

The Real Miami Heat Stood Up

We were worried for a long time; they would never come around to their full potential. Everyone watched during the season as we saw them choke at the most critical times. Every fan knew they would make it to the playoffs, but some projected they may not even make it out of the first round. The team has shown flashes of greatness and then at other times have shown how disorganized they can truly be. The team I speak of is the Miami Heat.

Something has happened in Miami and it is a wonderful thing. The Miami Heat are finally showing what they are truly capable of. The Miami Heat made it through their first playoff series and Miami now leads their second playoff series 2-0 over the Boston Celtics. The Heat won their second game against Boston in convincing fashion with a final score of 102-92. The final score does not tell the whole story as the Boston Celtics were dominated in the fourth quarter, allowing the Heat to go on a 14-0 run late in the game to seal the deal.

In previous games, during the season, the Heat would of lost the game. During the regular season, the Miami Heat would blow double digit leads and could not regularly beat any teams with a record over .500. Now the Heat have changed the way they do things. The Heat are actually closing out games. They are finishing their opponents with the precision of championship teams that have come before them. The Heat still have to win at least two more games against the Celtics, but no matter the outcome, the Miami Heat have learned the lesson. The team has learned which players are to take on which roles. Bosh needs to be a defensive and rebounding force. Lebron James needs to be a catalyst to get the offense started. Dwayne Wade is the closer of the team and puts the exclamation point on each victory.

It may have taken the Miami Heat all season to figure out which players need to fill which roles, but the Heat have finally found a working  game plan. Moreover, the playoffs will urge any team to overcome their faults or crumble under the pressure. The Super Team of James, Wade, and Bosh have taken what was once a major fault and turned it around. The Miami Heat have gone from the league’s best team that cracks under pressure to a team that welcomes pressure. It may seem to some people that this is an overnight transformation but the team has been trying to find balance all season. The Miami Heat have finally found the right winning formula.

How far the Miami Heat can go in the playoffs depends on the team maintaining the balance they have found. Only time can tell if they can maintain this team harmony. Whether the Heat do accomplish this feat or fail, each series they play in will be some of the most entertaining basketball to watch. It will be a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows. In addition, every fan will be on the edge of their seats to see whether they win or lose. The best drama on television continues every game the Miami Heat step on the court. Will this be the year King James and company reach the Promised Land? On the other hand, will the nerves of the NBA playoffs get to the Miami Heat and stop their dream? The Playoffs are upon us, the Heat are proving more, and more they are the team to watch.

The NBA Playoffs have started and we have learned…

Can Rose lead the Bulls to the Promised Land?

The playoffs started this past weekend and it has been quite an eye opening experience. We have learned so much about the teams. We have seen the some superstars be truly super and other be so ordinary we wonder why they have the superstar status. We saw some upsets and then we saw some true blowouts. As always, we even saw some bad officiating. This post is about what we have learned watching the playoff this year. Below are some of the important things we have learned as the playoffs have begun.

1: We have learned that records mean nothing. Usually in a playoff series, the regular season record means a lot. In previous years when a #1 seed played a #8 seed or a #2 seed played a #7 seed, the games were so lopsided most people did not even watch. This year we have had # 7 seed the New Orleans Hornets defeated the #2 seed Lakers. In addition, the #8 seed Memphis Grizzlies shocked the # 1 seed San Antonio Spurs. This reminds me so much of the NCAA March Madness Tournament this year, with one distinct difference the NBA teams play a series and not just one game. This means that winning one game does not mean that team will win the series. However, this turn of events does give us hope for more exciting beginning playoff games.

2:  Heart means everything. What I mean is that some teams have been written off as the lesser teams and having no chance to win a series, let alone the whole NBA championship. These are the very teams that are playing at their highest level. They are playing to prove they belong in the playoffs. These teams are playing to take down the NBA programs that are considered the “Playoff Giants” such as the Lakers, Celtics, Spurs, Bulls, etc. Every game is a David versus Goliath story and when David wins its done in spectacular fashion. Therefore, I give props to the Pacers, the Grizzlies, The Hornets, The Knicks, and the Hawks. They have their underdog cape on and are doing all they can to obtain victory. Even if they do not achieve their ultimate goal, we can be happy they gave their best effort.

3: Derrick Rose can carry the Bulls to the Finals. Rose is the most exciting player in the playoffs. I can say this without any doubt in my mind. Kobe Bryant is exciting but we have seen it before. The Heat with Dwayne Wade and Lebron James are fun to watch but playing the Sixers they will coast into the next round of the playoffs. Even the Celtics or Magic have no one who compares to watching Rose put together performances that is a beauty to behold. Rose has been carrying the Bulls on his back throughout the first two games. He has developed that “killer instinct” all great closers have and the shots he creates for himself are just amazing. While the rest of the Bulls team has some decent role players, they are all just hanging on the coattails of “Super Rose.” While I do not think, Rose can maintain the level of play he has demonstrated in the first two games. I do believe he will do enough to keep the Bulls winning to make it the Bulls first NBA Finals since the Jordan Era.

The Playoffs are just starting and I am more excited this year about them than in previous years. The games have had more last second finishes. The superstars have showed up and the majority of the underdog teams are playing their best basketball. It will definitely be interesting to see how the playoffs pan out. The best teams will win, but this year that is not so clear.

The Playoffs are here…will there be a three peat?

The NBA season is almost over and the playoffs are right around the corner. Every team that is going to make the playoffs wants to hoist the trophy at the end. Some teams have a better chance than others to accomplish the goal of winning it all. Many teams have already clenched their perspective spots.

The Lakers and Bulls are making a case for their own run at the title. Derrick Rose is playing at an extremely high level recently. He is showboating and throwing down double clutch reverse slams. Kobe is quietly throwing down 30 points a night and the Lakers are cruising into the playoffs. The Spurs have the best record in the West and are making some noise. The Celtics are always a threat no matter what year it is. Then there is the Miami Heat, the proposed Super-Team, is living up to their potential. The Heat are still optimistic for the post season. With all that being said, which current playoff team will come out on top?

I am favoring the Lakers to win it all again and there are some very good reasons. The three reasons I believe the Lakers will repeat are below.

Reason #1: The Lakers have size and length. With Lamar Odom, and the Twin Towers of Pao Gasol and Andrew Bynum. The Lakers can match up with anyone size wise. They can dominate the center, with blocks, rebounds and just straight up presence. Bynum averages close to 11.3 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game. Pao Gasol averages 18.8 points a game and 10.2 rebounds a game. Lamar Odom averages 14.3 points and 8.7 rebounds a game. Most teams do not have such domination in the middle, which is why teams hate to play the Lakers. In addition, during playoff time the Lakers play at a much higher level. This means the Odom, Gasol and Bynum can even be better in the middle and that is just plain scary.

Reason #2 : The Lakers have the experience. They have been here before and have had success. The Lakers have faced adversity, the team has learned to win hostile arenas and overcome the home field advantage. The Lakers have even had to find ways to win when their superstar player was having a bad night. They have persevered no matter the situation. They have a great leader on the floor in Kobe Bryant. The Lakers have the best coach in the league in Phil Jackson. One thing the Lakers know how to do is win championships.

Reason # 3: Kobe Bryant. Despite all the bad publicity Kobe achieves from various off the court activities, he is possibly the best player in the league. Kobe Bryant is not only a prolific scorer who stays atop the leader board in scoring but he is a true closer. Even if Kobe Bryant does not score 30 points in a game, when the game is on the line any coach could depend on him to come through and get the win. In addition, Kobe Bryant knows what it takes to go through the playoffs and win the NBA Championship. He uses that experience to keep his teammates motivated, inspired, and overall play better. Kobe Bryant is one of the best leaders in the league and he brings out the best in his teammates. 

For these reasons, I am believing that the Los Angeles Lakers have the best chance to become NBA Champions. They can make the run through the playoffs all the way to the end. The Lakers will have their three peat and we will see them spraying champagne once again.

To keep up with all NBA Playoff news check out the sites below:

http://www.nba.com

http://www.espn.com

http://bleacherreport.com

http://sports.yahoo.com

http://aol.sportingnews.com

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