Random NBA Finals Thoughts

This Thunder-Heat series has been absolutely mesmerizing and you best believe that I have an opinion on some of this.

1. Before I get started: the refs. Yes, they stunk. I think if one cared to, they could make a fairly damning highlight reel of calls that went against OKC (I can think of a few off the top of my head: Westbrook’s foul line jumper where he got shoved, Westbrook getting Haslem to bite on the pump fake but not getting the whistle (like Wade did a play or two before), Durant getting fouled coming across the lane by Battier and Wade, Durant getting fouled by Wade on a base line jumper (ESPN’s Mike Breen commented on the fouls of both Durtant plays) and James Harden getting fouled by Wade in the open court before he missed a layup).

1a. Personally, I think they need younger refs (Game 4 refs: Mike Callahan: 53 years. Scott Foster: 45 years old, Bill Kennedy: 44 years old. Joey Crawford reffed Game 3 and he’s 61). Guys in their 50s and 60s are being asked to referee a game between basically Olympic athletes at the peak of their athletic ability. They might miss a few calls.

2. That being said, if you thought the Thunder lost Game 4 because of the refs, we must’ve been watching different games. Miami played harder and smarter (yes, they were physical. They were seeing what the refs let them get away with, turns out, is a lot. They learned that from the Celtics. OKC looked rattled by Miami’s pressure).

3. With the game tied at 90 with about 4 minutes left, Derek Fisher went 1-on-4 (following a LeBron turnover) and got his shot rejected, leading to an easy bucket by LeBron (who had just started to cramp) at the other end. That’s some veteran leadership right there.

4. James Harden has sucked this series and was a main reason OKC lost Game 4. He’s too small to guard LeBron and LeBron simply smother’s him on the offensive end. It’s just a bad matchup for Harden. And Scott Brooks, if I see Harden guarding LeBron in the post one more time, I’ll lose my mind.

5. “If I see Harden guarding LeBron in the post one more time.” LeBron was in the post! And it worked beautifully. Weird.

6. It’s crazy to me how similar this Miami team is to LeBron’s Cavs teams. Shaky second scorer? Check (I have not been impressed by Wade at all). Bench full of spot up shooters? Check. Defensive minded coach who’s offense sputters? Check. Big man who is more comfortable shooting outside and who’s biggest contribution is offensive rebounds? check. LeBron having to do it all? Check.

7. The difference? LeBron. He IS doing it all. He’s not taking bad shots. He’s attacking the rim consistently. He’s going to the post and abusing people. If he’s gonna do that… well… There’s a reason why he’s the three-time MVP.

8. Kevin Durant has to get open more easily. Run him off some picks. Maybe do some misdirection. He can’t be allowing himself to be pushed to outside the 3-point line by the likes of Wade and Battier. The Thunder spend like 8-10 seconds trying to get Durant the ball, and when it fails, Westbrook has to create with the shot clock winding down.

9. Russell Westbrook is a beast. 43 points on 20-32 from the floor. WOW. While he only took just three free throws (made ’em all), I’m not sure how many more times he actually deserved to get to the line (he took a lot of jumpers). But it’s probably more than just three.

10. Thabo Sefolosha, the guy who actually makes LeBron work on offense (and who can smother D.Wade) played just 27 minutes. That is stupid.

11. Also stupid, Thabo not staying up on LeBron and making him drive late in the game. After sitting out due to cramps, James hit a back breaking three with with the shot clock winding down. Why Thabo is giving him the jumper and playing back is beyond me.

12. I don’t like Kendrick Perkins in this series. If he’s not going to be fouling LeBron when James goes inside OR box out Chris Bosh for offensive boards, what is Perkin’s role?

13. OKC still has a shot. Not a big one. Yes, down 3-1 is extremely rough. But they’ve been very close in all of these games. I don’t think they’ll wilt away in Game 5 (though they very well might). They have to get on the plane and fly back to Oklahoma City anyways, might as well play a game (in front of an effing craaazy fanbase) when they get there.

14. That being said, I fully expect Miami to close out in Game 5. But if they somehow have to go back to OKC… wow wouldn’t that be sweet.

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2 Responses to Random NBA Finals Thoughts

  1. Dylan says:

    My thoughts on your thoughts: 1) Blaming refs is so stupid. It was stupid last year when Lebron fans were screaming to the rafters, and its stupid now. They miss a call or two (which don’t look like fouls at full speed but are crystal clear is super slow mo) but the better team has won each game. 6) Dwayne Wade: “shaky second scorer”? What do you base that on? 23.5 pt per game is not shaky. 48% shooting is not shaky. Leading when Lebron needs a rest is not shaky. Being someone the Thunder have to fear so that Lebron can get open is not shaky. And he has more hustle and guts in his pinky than the whole Cavs team did including when LBJ was a member. No one ever feared, respected, or even remembered Mo Williams was on the floor. 8) Durant is locking up big time. Call it ‘not getting open’ if you want, but the long story short is that the guy looks like a deer in headlights 80% of the time. 9) Westbrook is a terrible point guard, end of story. I can’t stand scoring PG, you’ll never win with one these days. And from what I saw, he didn’t deserve any more free throws because the Heat realized that every time Westbrook gets into his 1 on 5 mode, Durant is sitting there like a chump, so they let him run by. Sounds like a win win to me. Those stat lines look great in December, but in the Finals you need a play maker, not a #2 thinking hes a teams #1. 11 & 12) Thabo is the only guy on the Thunder who has heard of the word “defense”. If Durant is such a “superstar” then why the hell can’t he cover the other team’s best player 1 on 1? I’m starting a new nickname for him: Carmelo Anthony Jr. 13) Why is everyone calling game 5 a must win for the Heat? The Heat already beat them there once this series with fans dumping beer on their head, you don’t think they’d like to stick it to them by ramming their rings down the Thunder fan’s throats?

  2. Ben says:

    re: the refs. Was I blaming the refs? Did I do that? I don’t believe I did. The calls went to the more aggressive team (and, somewhat, rightfully so). I also didn’t say that Westbrook deserved a ton more freebies. But Game 3 was decided (mostly) because Durant had to sit out the third quarter due to his fourth foul (where he stupidly bit on a pump fake, but didn’t actually make contact). I don’t think these games have been decided by the refs, just saying that, one could make that argument.

    re: D.Wade. You’ve watched these games and thought he’s played well? I dunno. Now, he’s made some plays and hit some big shots and yes, guts and moxie and all that. But as a guy rooting for OKC, I was happy every time Wade took a shot (doubly excited if it was a jumper). Is he 100000X a better player than Mo Williams? Of course. Is he a guy that the Thunder MUST account for, yes. Has he taken some awful shots late (air balled floater??) I absolutely think so. And twice now he’s had killer turnovers (in the backcourt!) late in games that could’ve (but didn’t) kill the Heat (if LeBron made those…..).

    re: Wade’s pinky hustle vs Cavs. Those Cavs teams featured Anderson Varejao, sir! How dare you!

    re: the Cavs. My point with the Cavs comparisons that LeBron still has to initiate the offense and be the focal point. He’s just doing it now from inside the 3-point line. This is a team that can survive a bad night by Wade, but can’t from LeBron. As a guy who watched 95% of the games LeBron played in Cleveland, watching this particular Miami team (with an aging Wade, not spring-in-his-step Wade), reminds me very much of watching the old Cavs.

    re: Westbrook. I’m not a fan of scoring PGs either. But dude was a beast. And decidedly not scared, unlike the rest of the Thunder team.

    re: Durant. Dude, Carmelo? Really? Come on now, that’s just silly. They can’t put Durant on LeBron bc they can’t afford the fouls. That’s just a fact. One could blame the refs, but Durant takes some dumb fouls (reaches in, slaps, bites on pump fakes, etc). If he’d quit the reaching and whatnot, he probably could check LeBron (as much as anyone can).

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