Posts Tagged ‘Dwyane Wade’

It’s time once again for postseason greatness in the NBA.

Here are the Eastern Conference series:

(1) Miami Heat vs (8) Milwaukee Bucks

(2) New York Knicks vs (7) Boson Celtics

(3) Indiana Pacers vs (6) Atlanta Hawks

(4) Brooklyn Nets vs (5) Chicago Bulls

Break Downs and Predictions:

(1) Heat vs (8) Bucks:

image

This series hardly requires any breaking down. Simply put, the Miami Heat are out of the Bucks’ league.

It’s possible that the Bucks may come within ten points of the Heat in one or two of the games, but even that is being optimistic.

Prediction – Miami wins series 4-0

(2) Knicks vs (7) Celtics:

image

Much like the “2-vs-7” match-up in the West between the Spurs and Lakers, this series is very likely going to the final seventh game.

The New York Knicks have seen MVP level play from star Forward Carmelo Anthony and stellar support from J.R. Smith and Tyson Chandler.

The Celtics have been coping with the loss of All-Star Point Guard Rajon Rondo to an ACL injury. Stepping up to fill the void has been Avery Bradley. Forward Jeff Green has provided much needed scoring and will likely be the “X-factor” in the Knicks series.

Because both teams have formidable scoring threats as well as defensive abilities, I would give the edge to the better head coach. Doc Rivers is one of, if not the best coach in the East.

Prediction – Boston wins series 4-3

image

(3) Pacers vs (6) Hawks:

They should call this series the “under-the-radar” series.

Both the Indiana Pacers and Atalanta Hawks have done simply just enough over the course of the season to make the playoffs without turning many heads or making any waves.

This strategy worked well for the Pacers last season as they proved the first real test on the Heat’s road to their championship, nearly stealing the series while Dwyane Wade struggled and Chris Bosh recovered from injury.

The Hawks pose no such threat to the Pacers who, even without Danny Granger, should handle Atlanta without much issue.

Prediction – Indiana wins series 4-2

(4) Nets vs (5) Bulls:

image

The Chicago Bulls surely thought they’d be going into the first round of the playoffs this season with a healthy Derrick Rose, who tore his ACL in the first round of last year’s playoffs.

That, however, is not their reality as Rose continues his rehab months after being cleared by team doctors to return to action.

The Brooklyn Nets pose a large challenge for the shorthanded Bulls with All-Star Center Brook Lopez and elite Point Guard Deron Williams enjoying home court advantage.

The biggest chance the Bulls stand at beating the Nets is by exploiting their physical play. The X-factors for Chicago will be Joakim Noah and Nate Robinson.

Prediction – Chicago wins series 4-3

That wraps up the Eastern Conference first round match-ups. Can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Advertisements

There seems to be two top dogs remaining in the NBA playoffs. The San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat.

English: Wizards v/s Heat 03/30/11

English: Dwyane Wade and LeBron James (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Spurs have been on a tear lately, going 20-0 in their last 20 games. These 20 victories include series sweeps over the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers as well as convincing victories in Games 1 & 2 of their Western Conference series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Miami Heat have also completed Game 1 & 2 of their conference finals series with the Boston Celtics.

Both Eastern and Western Conference Finals series head back to the lower-seeded teams’ home courts for Games 3 and 4 in Boston and Oklahoma City, respectively.

Ah, all of a sudden, the task doesn’t seem so easy for the favorite Spurs and Heat.

The Thunder fans are real hyped fans. What would you expect from a state whose entire population is currently stir crazy waiting for college football to start? Seriously, what else is there? (See also Jazz fans).

Both the Spurs and Heat have had to overcome being behind late in a game and overcoming deficit to earn the win. Alternately, they have each cruised for a dominant victory.

Spectacular as each team is, the Heat and Spurs both have chinks in the armor that have been exposed at one point or another in these playoffs.

For the Heat, interior play has been absolutely key. With the injury suffered by Chris Bosh early in the second round against the Indiana Pacers, the Heat’s defense against the low post and rebounding has been a cause for concern. The Pacers were able to take advantage of the deficiency in Games 2 and 3 of that series and earned W’s against the favored Heat. Of course, Dwyane Wade‘s struggles to score were no small factor either.

LeBron James has produced consistently the entire postseason, averaging 29.6 points/9.2 rebounds/5.8 assists per game. Dwyane Wade more than any other Heat player determines the outcome of the game. When he plays well, he compliments LeBron’s contributions and victory is imminent. When Wade plays poorly, LeBron finds himself in the same scenario as rookie Michael Jordan, scoring 63 points against the Celtics in 2 OT in a losing effort.

The Spurs are the epitome of “team basketball.” Their crisp passing and intelligent play has been frustrating the last 20 teams San Antonio has faced.

Tony Parker, who is averaging 20.5 points/3.8 rebounds/7.1 assists per game in the Spurs’ “sweep-fest” is clearly the most valuable Spur at this point. He and Tim Duncan are the strongest contributors on the team with great production out of Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard and others. It appears the only thing that can stop the Spurs is either father time as the games move forward, or the offense missing jumpers and letting the opposition go on the fast break.

The Thunder and Celtics both have their backs to the wall and will look to defend their home courts in order to steal one on the road. You can bet if the Spurs or Heat can get just one win on the road over the next two games, it’ll be a Spurs/Heat finals.

English: Basketball player LeBron James during...

Image via Wikipedia

LeBron James is on a mission.

Through the Miami Heat‘s first nine games, James ranks number one in the NBA in scoring with an average of 30.1 points per game, second in field goal percentage making 60.1% of his attempts, fourth in steals with 2.0 per game, ninth in assists at 7.6 per game. He also averages 7.6 rebounds a game, which ranks 27th in the league.

Throw in the added support from a stellar Miami cast, which lost nothing in the offseason, and you have a recipe for a repeat visit to the NBA Finals. So why will the Heat take home the Larry O’Brien Trophy this time?

To best answer this question, one must consider the two biggest obstacles from last season:

– New head coach

Erik Spoelstra was not only in his first year as the Miami Heat head coach, but in his first year as a head coach in general.

At times, it was apparent that Spoelstra was searching for his groove and struggled with game-time decisions. Add in the fact that he had to gain the respect and trust of three all-star talents, while trying to find places for the role players and the Miami Heat’s run to the NBA Finals last season was phenomenal.

With a year now under his belt, Spoelstra will be able to rely on experience, which includes a hotly contested series in the Finals. How many coaches can claim that first year luxury?

– Team Chemistry

Last season was the first time LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh had played on the same NBA team. Many people argued whether or not the three could co-exist at all, and not just before the season tipped off. Talks of different line-ups and who the real leader of the team was were season long topics.

I believe the answer to this question is simple. LeBron is the leader. Wade and Bosh are both highly skilled second fiddles and that dynamic has been displayed early this year with great results.

The Miami Heat are 8-1 and, apart from a home loss Monday, January 3 to the Atlanta Hawks, have looked dominant against some good talent already.

If the Miami Heat can stay healthy, I don’t see another team in the NBA this season with the man power to stop them from achieving their immediate goal of winning the NBA championship title in 2012.

Miami Heat

Image by Keith Allison via Flickr

Well, it’s happening a lot sooner than I had anticipated.

The national media circuits are beginning to pay positive attention to the Miami Heat. Note: I said Miami Heat, not LeBron James.

ESPN created a monster in producing and airing “The Decision,” the hour-long special in which LeBron James revealed he would be leaving Cleveland after 6 years with no rings.

The weeks leading up to “The Decision” were filled with shameless advertising and hype. News segments were mere rumors and speculation. In one day, LeBron would start out leaning towards New York, by noon it was Chicago or New Jersey, and by the time the actual day came around, most everyone already knew LeBron was going to leave to go to Miami.

All signs pointed to him leaving!

And the Cleveland fans knew it because the media knew it (more or less). Therefore, you saw the Cavs fans making pleas, literally begging LeBron not to go.

All I’m saying is, James’ decision did not shock anyone.

What did shock me was how quickly the media turned its back on its involvement in the whole “Decision” debacle. Sports T.V. shows, sports talk radio hosts, and the overall sports community spent easily the entirety of the next week speaking of nothing besides the Miami Heat and specifically LeBron James.

They gaged the country’s opinion on “The Decision” and when they found it to be overwhelmingly negative, they washed their hands of LeBron, painted a picture of a villainous fiend, and tossed him under the bus.

The regular season talk was focused on different players throughout the year but one theme rang true loudly: The national media have withheld spotlight from James as an individual when it applies to praise for excellent play. Instead, they direct the praise to the Heat as a whole, or to Dwyane Wade.

This is not to say that LeBron is under the radar. The media are more than happy to talk about James’ shortcomings, missed opportunities, etc.

Now that the Heat have shown brightly the first round and beginning of the second round, the national media is catching on to something: This Miami Heat team is good. Very, very good.

In the sports news business, it’s all about being first to break news or being the first to predict the champion. When their horse goes down (i.e. Orlando Magic, San Antonio Spurs, etc) often times, the analysts or radio hosts will simply pick a new team he/she claims to have known all along would win it all.

As a lonely passenger at times on the LeBron bandwagon, it has been, at times, hilarious to watch these analysts pretend other players deserve the MVP, blowing losses out of proportion, and force-feeding the masses inflated and irrelevant stats to dismiss LeBron’s dominance.

I figured it would take more time before the same people who threw James under the bus would crawl back and play nice.

LeBron said way back when this whole media frenzy started getting vicious that he was going to keep track of the nay sayers.

I hope he unleashes on someone to be honest. I hope he throws down on a reporter who ripped James’ integrity during “The Decision” hot bed. I hope he calls one of these smile-fakers out, quoting the outrageous attacks on his leadership qualities, finishing capabilities or work ethic.

There won’t be much left to say when Miami’s “Big 3” are raising the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Chris Bosh is back in the fold. Not only that, he scored 20 points and pulled down 7 rebounds in his first game back from injury against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Miami Heat won 108-103.

Dwyane Wade had after-game comments in regards to the 3 being able to play together saying, “…it’s good to have the 1, 3, and 6 out there together.”

Kevin Durant, never afraid to speak his mind also commented post-game. He said of Chris Bosh, “…there’s a lot of fake tough guys in the league, and he’s [Bosh] one of them.”

Those comments made a lot of noise around the league and in the news. Should make the All-Star game a lot more interesting should Bosh be picked as an all-star reserve forward.

Most important here is that the Heat are able to generate 75 points between Bosh, Wade, and King James. How many teams are able to say that they can get that kind of production from 3 players. It’s going to come together for the Heat by season’s end. Staying healthy is the key.

When you hear LA, NBA, and king, you would sooner think of Kobe Bryant before Blake Griffin. I agree. Kobe has 5 championship rings, all with the LA Lakers. Blake Griffin is playing in his rookie year.

I say King of LA in comparison of course to LeBron James. I wrote an article a week or so ago about which of the two(Griffin or James) had the more impressive highlight reel. Watching Blake Griffin play basketball will remind you of LeBron‘s style. Griffin stands 2 inches taller than LeBron at 6’10” and can jump unlike anyone besides “King James”.

Griffin has averaged 22.8 points per game and 12.9 rebounds per game through his first 44 games as a pro. James averaged 20.9 PPG and 5.5 RPG through his rookie year. Granted, LeBron was 18 years old his rookie year, 4 years younger than Griffin this year. Griffin is by far the rookie of the year and possibly even MVP.

LeBron has already seen his numbers take a hit at the cost of playing with 2 other NBA stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. It’s unlikely that Kobe will win the MVP this year either as his Lakers have slowed a step or two since last season. Dirk Nowitzki and Derek Rose are competitors for the title thus far as well, but one thing is for sure, Blake Griffin is the real deal and as long as he can stay healthy (he missed his “would be” rookie year in ’09-’10 season with a knee injury), he has the potential to not only win the MVP this season but be dominant in the NBA for a long time.

The could-be “trump card” that Griffin holds over all other MVP candidates this year is that Nowitzki and Rose types all have good to great supporting casts. Griffin, does not. Griffin’s pure talent has earned him his numbers. His play-making and sharp-shooting abilities are phenomenal.

Like LeBron, Griffin uses his size and athleticism to overpower and just plain outwork the opposition.

Griffin deserves all the praise and attention he has received so far and if the Clippers can draft or trade for some promising players, who knows? Maybe the Clippers can become the ’06-’10 Cavaliers of the West

Whenever anyone asks me who my favorite NBA team is, the answer is always “whoever LeBron James is playing for.”

So many people began to hate LeBron James when he announced he would leave Cleveland to go to Miami and play for the Heat.

Personally, I don’t think it was that big of a deal. Yes, he might have received less negative reactions had he told the Cavaliers privately first his intentions to leave, but he also made a lot of money by announcing it on the ESPN special “the decision”.

Let’s not forget… basketball is his job and I would have sold out for much much less than LeBron received so I can’t judge. I think people forget that LeBron has been famous since his junior year of high school. He is very much used to the spotlight and if he acts a little differently than you or I would, it’s got a lot do with that. And honestly, if the worst thing that LeBron James has done in the 6 years he’s been in the league is the way that he announced his decision in free agency, then that’s a stand up guy.

He doesn’t have gambling problems, hasn’t shot himself in the leg, hasn’t killed someone driving drunk, hasn’t been accused of sexually harassing anyone. He just handles his business on the court. LeBron has the skill and ability to be the most dominant player the NBA has ever seen. He can score at will with amazing ball handling and shot accuracy from short to deep, deep range. He can jump through the roof and is one of the best defenders in the league as well.

LeBron’s most amazing talent, I think, is his court awareness. At any time, it seems LeBron knows the exact location of every team-mate and will dish an around-the-back pass to one with perfect timing and accuracy. LeBron draws the attention of not just his defenders but the entire building. Everyone wants to see what LeBron will do and it’s easier to break off and get open as a teammate when LeBron is driving to the hoop, easily capable of throwing it down, but instead kicks it out to the open teammate for 3. All because of the attention he draws on offense.

Alone, yet surrounded by a cast of competent enough players, James can beat 85% of the teams in the NBA and showed that the last 3-4 seasons with the Cavaliers. Now that LeBron has all-stars around him nightly to give an outlet pass on the breakaway to, it’s a thing of beauty.

The Heat are now finally in their groove and have won 21 of their last 22 games.

LeBron is making himself most useful as a facilitator. James will get his whenever and however he wants, but Wade, Bosh, and even the rest of the Heat are benefitting from James’ ability to draw off defenders and make a good player look great and a decent player look good. Given 2 of his teammates are great players already, safe to say the Heat are the top contender in the East.

Plus, have you seen the Cavs lately? They went from best record in the NBA 2 years in a row, to last place in the NBA halfway through the first year without James.