We’ve finally arrived at the best of the best….two in the Western Conference and two in the Eastern Conference….of what the NBA has to offer.
The OKC Thunder find themselves in the all too familiar territory of being down 0-2 to their due south I-35 neighbors San Antonio Spurs. No doubt they are hoping for the same ending….gentle reminder: during the 2012 playoffs, Kevin Durant & company met the challenge head on and fought back to win the following four games, thrusting them into the championship ring with the Miami Heat.
For all that’s been said about the “aging” San Antonio Spurs they sure manage to get things done…and in grand fashion to boot (couldn’t resist the Texas inspired pun). In many ways San Antonio resembles the NFL’s New England Patriots…a machine so remarkably oiled that if one integral piece is removed, it is, without tremendous effort, replaced with another. By no means am I underestimating anybody’s individual talent…goes without saying the machine would be rendered useless without talent…but the Spurs program seems to have a gift for finding talent that will fit seamlessly into its game plan and maxing said game plan out with fundamental finesse!
On the other side of the court….the raging debate remains…why isn’t the ball in the hands of Kevin Durant more often than it is? After all, even though he was officially crowned the league’s MVP this year—the kid has played at MVP candidate level since he left the University of Texas in his rearview mirror. I firmly believe that once he….he, being Russell Westbrook…finds the phenomenal balance of finding his groove in a game plus incorporating teammates into the scheme so they can find their groove, he’ll be a lethal weapon. For now though, it is up to Coach Brooks to reel the young man in and put him on the path to balance…sooner (yep, an OU reference, way too easy to pass up) rather than later.
If OKC doesn’t find answers defensively….which may all change given the speculation of the return of Serge Ibaka to the lineup…they may find themselves in the same hole they did in the first two games—their offense looking quite pale in comparison to the Spurs, who put on a “how to drain a three” clinic. OKC has quite a task ahead of them….while, I certainly don’t expect them to get swept…I don’t expect them to win this series either…in the end, it’ll be San Antonio representing the conference in the NBA’s Championship Series.
On the other side of the league….given their intense rivalry, it comes as no surprise to find the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers tied up, 1-1, in their series. We’ve come to learn Eastern Conference appearances… are what dreams are made of…at least for Indy and their fans. For Miami’s legions of followers—not so much…four appearances in a row, tends to bring about more of an “it’s our time, again” attitude.
It just so happened I decided to take my desire for r & r to South Beach last weekend. I found it very interesting as I sat in a packed bar watching Miami put on a so-so performance that while the crowd was super engaged in the game…when the final tick of the clock showed Miami on the losing end of the situation, it was as if the drummer had never stopped beating his or her drum. Not only did the crowd disperse without so much as a murmur, I didn’t overhear any bemoaning about the game’s results the rest of the evening. What? This was the Conference Finals for goodness sake! Then again….there was about two and a half hours of daylight remaining and far too many patio restaurants, offering mojito specials, between the bar and my hotel. When in Rome do as the Romans do….I found myself getting soaked into the lure of the city’s energy…and didn’t so much as mention the game either…there’s really no place better to drown in the sorrow of a game’s loss than South Beach!
Besides, Miami fans have seen this show before…you know, the one where the Heat lose the first one then come back and actually show up for the remainder of the series. I don’t expect things to be easy but I’d surprised if it isn’t more of the same…Miami Heat…in six!
Totally looking forward to this Memorial Day Weekend…the unofficial start of summer—complete with movie openings, cookouts, lots of fellowship and NBA basketball sounds like a winner to me! Enjoy!!