Friday, June 22, 2012

LeBron Finally Gets a Ring, Ruins Everyone's Weekend

Just about the only word I can use to make sense of the last couple weeks of the NBA playoffs.
In the lockout shortened, 66 game season, the Miami Heat have won the championship.
Let it sink in.
LeBron James. NBA Champion.
For weeks, criticism of James’ overall skill set, especially with regards to the fourth quarter, ran rampant throughout media outlets, from ESPN to backwater blogs. LeBron finally answered with some of the best performances of his career, silencing his critics once and for all with a well-deserved ring.
From Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals forward, James carried the Heat on his back towards the finish line, never looking back, and playing with a look of sheer determination not seen in quite some time.
This Finals series leaves the casual fan with a few questions, which I will postulate here for your entertainment.
How in the world did Scott Brooks get out-coached by Erik Spoelstra?
-I’m going to chalk this up to a complete lack of poise and leadership, as the entire series it was a 2-man team with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, with Serge Ibaka and James “The Magician” Harden completely disappearing in the most important of times, forcing Brooks’ hand to try and make something work.
Why didn’t Kendrick Perkins get more playing time?
            -Look, the guy made some bonehead plays, but for one of the best defensive centers in the game to average 20 minutes of playing time (largely out of foul trouble) speaks volumes to why the Thunder lost this series. There’s a reason he was a key to the Celtics’ 2008 run. Perkins even vented about his lack of playing time throughout the series to the media. Especially given Miami’s lack of size at center, this one was a head scratcher. 
Could the Celtics have beaten the Thunder?
-       Going into this series, it was largely assumed that Oklahoma would trample all over the Eastern Conference champion, be it Boston or Miami. Yet Miami absolutely dominated the Thunder, and if it wasn’t for heroic performances by Russell Westbrook, would have been filled with blowouts.
What the hell is going to happen next season?
-       Going forward, there are a lot of questions around the league.
-       In Boston, the questions will be centered around Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to see just what they have left in the tank and if they can contribute in Boston for the near future.
-       Chicago will play the “what if” game all offseason and wonder what to do despite injuries.
-       Will the officiating change? Inconsistent officiating marred the playoffs in essentially every game one way or the other. I will reference a certain play that had Erik Spoelstra guarding Westbrook on a wide open 3-point attempt with time running out in the fourth quarter of Game 3.  The Thunder were down by 3 at the time, making it a crucial possession. The rulebook calls for an automatic technical for Spoelstra’s actions, yet nothing was called. This, along with the mind numbing stat of technical fouls in favor of the Heat (I believe it was 23-3 last I checked during the ECF) makes one wonder about officiating. It’s universally accepted that it needs to change at this point.
-       The Lakers also enter an offseason of uncertainty, with a cancerous locker room that needs to be remedied.
-       Can the Miami Heat defend their title next year? This makes for a sickening outlook for the Boston homer, but an unfortunate reality. According to James, this was the first of many titles for the Heat, so look out NBA.


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