Thursday, June 21, 2012

Game 5

Tonight, the Miami Heat will have the opportunity to close out Oklahoma City on their home court and deliver the first of eight championships that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh promised two summers ago when they joined forces down in South Beach.  They're so close they can practically taste that trophy.  But now that the Thunder have their backs to the wall, I think they'll show America what their really made of.  They're still the better team, and much too good to lose four in a row like this.
-Bold Prediction-If the Thunder win tonight, they will recover and go on to win the series.  I know the odds of coming back from 3-1 deficits are microscopic, but if they can just get the series back to OKC then I think they'll win both of those home games.  At the very least, I want another Game 7.

-But if they lose, James Harden will be the scapegoat.  He's been hesitant to shoot, made crippling mistakes at inopportune times and has failed to execute during the fourth quarter.  He's the X-Factor and he has to play better tonight.  Otherwise Scott Brooks will have to hope Thabo Sefolosha can catch lightning in a bottle on offense.

-Miami seems to have learned a lot from last June's battle with Dirk Nowitzki's Dallas Mavericks, whereas OKC's youth has hindered them in their first finals appearance.  They've looked overwhelmed by the moment.  Miami seems much more comfortable.

-Give credit to Miami's role players.  Shane Battier, Mario Chalmers, and Norris Cole have all been phenomenal, and the Heat wouldn't be in this position without them.

-Speaking of excellent role players, Nick Collison has played out of his mind.  So much energy and hustle.  37 year-old Derek Fisher is a great veteran presence to have and can still make plays.  His extensive playoff experience is especially valuable to a young team.

-Loved seeing Russell Westbrook silence the critics with a dominant stat line during Game 4--43 points on 20 of 32 shooting with seven boards and five assists.  He was a man on a mission, and nobody was stopping him once he got into the lane.  Yes, he can be reckless.  He makes mistakes, takes dumb shots. and seems to forget that Kevin Durant plays on the same team as him.  But everybody has their flaws, and a lot of the criticism he has to endure is undeserved.  Because when he's on top of his game he's one of the best, most explosive players in the NBA. Reminded me of Rajon Rondo's performance in Game 2 of the conference finals against the Heat.  The Thunder, like the Celtics, wasted one of the best single-game postseason performances by a point guard since the days of Magic Johnson.

-The officiating has been downright terrible/maddeningly inconsistent throughout the playoffs to the point where I can barely watch the games.  I don't believe the series are rigged, as some sketpical fans claim, but sometimes it sure seems that way.

-Bold Prediction-The two-man SWAT team that is Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka will combine for ten blocks tonight.

-Lebron has found another gear in these playoffs, a run of sustained excellence that allowed him to fight through leg cramps and hit a dagger three in Game 4.  It took him some time, but at the age of 27, he's finally figured it all out just like Michael Jordan did at the same age during the '91 playoff.  Good for him.

-I say OKC will win, 97 to 92.

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