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Winner. 

Winner. 

"The HEAT send their regards", whispered Allen as he slid the coldest of daggers into the collective heart of the Spurs. 

"The HEAT send their regards", whispered Allen as he slid the coldest of daggers into the collective heart of the Spurs. 

(Source: nbaoffseason.com)

LeOST? 
via

LeOST? 

via

"Basically, I told myself, you’re going to end up on SportsCenter one way or another.”  - LeBron James on his block of Tiago Splitter.

"Basically, I told myself, you’re going to end up on SportsCenter one way or another.”  - LeBron James on his block of Tiago Splitter.

(Source: nbaoffseason.com)

I love the NBA’s dimly lit photos because they remind me of when I was younger and we’d go to the park to play ball and we’d stay well past sunset. We’d play under three lights because the fourth had been knocked out by some asshole who once kicked the ball, trying to launch it to the stars, and instead nearly ended our night games for an eternity. 
Thankfully the city was generous enough to provide us with four lights. 

I love the NBA’s dimly lit photos because they remind me of when I was younger and we’d go to the park to play ball and we’d stay well past sunset. We’d play under three lights because the fourth had been knocked out by some asshole who once kicked the ball, trying to launch it to the stars, and instead nearly ended our night games for an eternity. 

Thankfully the city was generous enough to provide us with four lights. 

LeBron, LOST and the NBA Finals. Game 4 recap and Game 5 preview. 
It’s all about LeBron James. Tonight, tomorrow, and everyday there is basketball until LeBron calls it quits. It always has been and it will always be like that. Wade can go for 60 tonight and we will still talk about how well or how awful LeBron played. That’s because LeBron James is the best player in basketball and we want and need him to play that way. 
If the NBA were a television show it would have to be J.J. Abrams’s LOST. David Stern would easily be Jacob, making all the rules and never having to be held accountable. Kobe would probably be John Locke, so ambitious at first only to die and return as a ruthless leader. Dirk would have to be Swayer, cool, savvy and those long blonde locks. The NBA title would be Kate, the girl everyone is after yet only one will win over. 
And LeBron? Well, I haven’t figured that one out yet. I’m stuck somewhere between Jack Shephard or The Island. They both sort of make perfect sense. The Island is this mysterious entity which has mythical powers. No one understands the Island and so little of it is refined. And every so often, the Island can vanish into thin air. 
Or perhaps, LeBron is more like Jack Shephard. The central figure of our show from the day he arrived. Willing to sacrifice his own well being to help others survive and succeed. Yet we aren’t sure if Jack has what it takes to lead the survivors. Jack’s not even sure if he has what it takes. Jack falters quite a bit before he becomes the hero. Jack’s final lesson is that he didn’t have to be a perfect leader or even one that took all the right actions. He just had to be one that took action. 
That’s what LeBron needs to learn if Miami wants to win this series. When things look bleak, LeBron can’t run to the baseline and hide. He can’t cloak himself by consistently walking into double teams. He can’t be passive and pretend he’s passing. That’s not facilitating, that’s self-deprecating. 
If LeBron doesn’t play like LeBron, nothing else will matter. Not the analysis, not the stats, not the Finals or the MVP. Love him or hate him, you know that the only thing that matters and the only thing that’s mattered since June 26th, 2003 has been whether or not LeBron James can one day become a basketball immortal. 
A quick rundown of Game 4 will tell you just how important a player LeBron is. Miami out rebounded Dallas, 44 to 41 including more offensive rebounds, 15 to 12. Miami was more efficient from the field, shooting 42.7% to Dallas’ 39.7%. Miami had less turnovers (13 to 11) and more assists (19 to 13) all while netting more steals (8 to 7) and blocks (5 to 2).The only real difference in this game was Free Throws, where Dallas, 24 of 30, killed Miami, who was 17 of 24.
If LeBron, who took only 11 shots in this game, goes to the hole 5 more times, I think Miami wins the free throw battle and most likely the game. It’s all about his effort and aggression right now. There were to jarring plays that I remember clearly that told me all I need to know about this game.
The first was a breakaway dunk by James during which he looked more than bored. In fact, it looked like he didn’t even want to dunk the ball. He begrudgingly leaped into the air and half-heartedly stuffed the ball through the rim. his facial expression looked as if he wished someone ran out on the break with him just so he can pass the ball off. 
The second came when LeBron dumped the ball off to a high-post on the elbow (I believe it was Udonis Haslem) and then took a beautiful cut to the basket. For no understandable reason at all, Dallas doubled the post and left LeBron streaking wide open to the rim. Haslem found James on the cut with a beautiful pass and then nothing else made sense. LeBron, who’s about 6’9”, 285 pounds and has a 45” vertical, decided not to dunk the ball. In fact, he didn’t even really attempt the layup, either. If anything, Miami was lucky that Dallas, who immediately regretted doubling off of James, attacked an idle James and fouled him one another half-hearted shot attempt. 
As for Dirk and Wade, who have both played at supernatural levels were no different in this game. Wade was everywhere on both sides of the ball and came up with some keep blocks to keep Miami in the game. Dirk, who was playing with a 101 degree fever, 21 points and 11 rebounds, including the game clinching lay-in at the end. You know, just typical Dirk stuff. 
Now for the nerdy portion of this post, the Eight Factors: 
1. No Rebounds, No Rings - Miami edged out Dallas last night but still lost. I don’t really think that can happen again for Dallas, who will need to control the boards if they want to control their own destiny. 
2. J.J. Barea - The little man got his first Finals start, went 3 for 9 and netted 8 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds. Not a bad box score but he had a +/- of -7 for the game and missed a number of good looks at the rim. I’m guessing that Rick Carlisle, who’s been coaching the lights out in the playoffs, will be starting J.J. again since it worked out last game. Barea needs to convert those lay-ups that he creates with his speed or else he’s just useless out there. 
3. Turnovers - Remember when Jason Kidd was one of the best point guards to ever play? How does 0 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds, 4 turnovers in 38 minutes sound? Kidd was a +12 for the game, highest of any player, so there is that. I know Kidd has been putting in a lot of good defensive minutes, especially on LeBron, but he has to be more careful with the rock. Miami did have a slight edge in fastbreak points, and this was without LeBron focused in. 
4. Odd Lineups - This matters not if LeBron decides to “check out" of the game. I like how Dallas countered with starting JJ and not playing Peja more that 15 seconds. For those of you keeping count, Mike Bibby might be the worst basketball player on the planet yet he still starts and logs 15 to 20 minutes a game. Come on, Spoelstra!
5. Chandler, Marion, Haywood - Miami outscored Dallas in the paint 40 to 38. It’s a slight advantage on paper that seems a lot bigger when you realize that LeBron didn’t attack the rim. Dallas is going to have to turn Wade into a jump shooter the same way they have done to LeBron. Put a small defender on him and dare him to drive only to have Chandler or Marion rotate over early and cut of the drive before it gets clsoe to the paint. 
6. Like A Bosh - I don’t care to talk about Bosh much but I heard Jon Barry on the Jim Rome show this morning assert that there 20 other guys that can do what Bosh does. He then went on to name all one of them.
I’m sure there are guys who can do what Bosh does, sort of. What Bosh does regularly, sure, a lot of guys average the same stats. but what Bosh can do and what he has done? I don’t think there are more than five guys who can do what Chris has done. See, Bosh was one of the 10 best players in the game just 12 months ago and it’s silly to pretend he wasn’t just because he moved to South Beach. For a guy who averaged 25 and 12 to take a limited role and still put up All-Star worthy numbers and to still be ready to perform like a #2 or even a #1 on some nights (see Chicago series) is almost unheard of. Kevin Garnett comes to mind, maybe Lamar Odom. That’s about it. I don’t think people realize the value of sacrificing and yet being ready to perform. 
With that said, Bosh is going to have to play better than he has in these finals. His shooting is off and his rebounding can improve. Especially if LeBron continues to sturggle. 
7. Getting Dirk’d On - Dirk is one glorious specimen. The gutsy performance in Game 4 should cement his legacy in the NBA history books. i asked this question before and it seemed silly but I think it’s appropriate to ask again; If Miami wins the NBA Finals, should Dirk still win the MVP trophy? I think so. he’s been that damn good. Can’t really ask for him to do anything more. Okay, maybe he can take more shots. Especially those off-balance-one-legged-bank shots. 
8. Free Throws - I thought free throws would have a larger influence on who won the games. So far, it’s been a toss up. The team that’s taken more free throws is 1 and 3 and the team that’s made more free throws is 2 and 2. Maybe I should change this factor to be the LeBron-effort factor because so far, his lack of drives to the rim are the reason Dallas has been able to edge Miami in free throw shooting and attempts. 
Pivotal Game 5 is tonight, 9:00PM EST on ABC. Tune in to see if Jack Shephard can get the Miami Heat off Dallas Island with a winand don’t forget to follow us on Twitter. 
 
@Suga_Shane

LeBron, LOST and the NBA Finals. Game 4 recap and Game 5 preview. 

It’s all about LeBron James. Tonight, tomorrow, and everyday there is basketball until LeBron calls it quits. It always has been and it will always be like that. Wade can go for 60 tonight and we will still talk about how well or how awful LeBron played. That’s because LeBron James is the best player in basketball and we want and need him to play that way. 

If the NBA were a television show it would have to be J.J. Abrams’s LOST. David Stern would easily be Jacob, making all the rules and never having to be held accountable. Kobe would probably be John Locke, so ambitious at first only to die and return as a ruthless leader. Dirk would have to be Swayer, cool, savvy and those long blonde locks. The NBA title would be Kate, the girl everyone is after yet only one will win over. 

And LeBron? Well, I haven’t figured that one out yet. I’m stuck somewhere between Jack Shephard or The Island. They both sort of make perfect sense. The Island is this mysterious entity which has mythical powers. No one understands the Island and so little of it is refined. And every so often, the Island can vanish into thin air. 

Or perhaps, LeBron is more like Jack Shephard. The central figure of our show from the day he arrived. Willing to sacrifice his own well being to help others survive and succeed. Yet we aren’t sure if Jack has what it takes to lead the survivors. Jack’s not even sure if he has what it takes. Jack falters quite a bit before he becomes the hero. Jack’s final lesson is that he didn’t have to be a perfect leader or even one that took all the right actions. He just had to be one that took action. 

That’s what LeBron needs to learn if Miami wants to win this series. When things look bleak, LeBron can’t run to the baseline and hide. He can’t cloak himself by consistently walking into double teams. He can’t be passive and pretend he’s passing. That’s not facilitating, that’s self-deprecating. 

If LeBron doesn’t play like LeBron, nothing else will matter. Not the analysis, not the stats, not the Finals or the MVP. Love him or hate him, you know that the only thing that matters and the only thing that’s mattered since June 26th, 2003 has been whether or not LeBron James can one day become a basketball immortal. 

A quick rundown of Game 4 will tell you just how important a player LeBron is. Miami out rebounded Dallas, 44 to 41 including more offensive rebounds, 15 to 12. Miami was more efficient from the field, shooting 42.7% to Dallas’ 39.7%. Miami had less turnovers (13 to 11) and more assists (19 to 13) all while netting more steals (8 to 7) and blocks (5 to 2).The only real difference in this game was Free Throws, where Dallas, 24 of 30, killed Miami, who was 17 of 24.

If LeBron, who took only 11 shots in this game, goes to the hole 5 more times, I think Miami wins the free throw battle and most likely the game. It’s all about his effort and aggression right now. There were to jarring plays that I remember clearly that told me all I need to know about this game.

The first was a breakaway dunk by James during which he looked more than bored. In fact, it looked like he didn’t even want to dunk the ball. He begrudgingly leaped into the air and half-heartedly stuffed the ball through the rim. his facial expression looked as if he wished someone ran out on the break with him just so he can pass the ball off. 

The second came when LeBron dumped the ball off to a high-post on the elbow (I believe it was Udonis Haslem) and then took a beautiful cut to the basket. For no understandable reason at all, Dallas doubled the post and left LeBron streaking wide open to the rim. Haslem found James on the cut with a beautiful pass and then nothing else made sense. LeBron, who’s about 6’9”, 285 pounds and has a 45” vertical, decided not to dunk the ball. In fact, he didn’t even really attempt the layup, either. If anything, Miami was lucky that Dallas, who immediately regretted doubling off of James, attacked an idle James and fouled him one another half-hearted shot attempt. 

As for Dirk and Wade, who have both played at supernatural levels were no different in this game. Wade was everywhere on both sides of the ball and came up with some keep blocks to keep Miami in the game. Dirk, who was playing with a 101 degree fever, 21 points and 11 rebounds, including the game clinching lay-in at the end. You know, just typical Dirk stuff. 

Now for the nerdy portion of this post, the Eight Factors: 

1. No Rebounds, No Rings - Miami edged out Dallas last night but still lost. I don’t really think that can happen again for Dallas, who will need to control the boards if they want to control their own destiny. 

2. J.J. Barea - The little man got his first Finals start, went 3 for 9 and netted 8 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds. Not a bad box score but he had a +/- of -7 for the game and missed a number of good looks at the rim. I’m guessing that Rick Carlisle, who’s been coaching the lights out in the playoffs, will be starting J.J. again since it worked out last game. Barea needs to convert those lay-ups that he creates with his speed or else he’s just useless out there. 

3. Turnovers - Remember when Jason Kidd was one of the best point guards to ever play? How does 0 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds, 4 turnovers in 38 minutes sound? Kidd was a +12 for the game, highest of any player, so there is that. I know Kidd has been putting in a lot of good defensive minutes, especially on LeBron, but he has to be more careful with the rock. Miami did have a slight edge in fastbreak points, and this was without LeBron focused in. 

4. Odd Lineups - This matters not if LeBron decides to “check out" of the game. I like how Dallas countered with starting JJ and not playing Peja more that 15 seconds. For those of you keeping count, Mike Bibby might be the worst basketball player on the planet yet he still starts and logs 15 to 20 minutes a game. Come on, Spoelstra!

5. Chandler, Marion, Haywood - Miami outscored Dallas in the paint 40 to 38. It’s a slight advantage on paper that seems a lot bigger when you realize that LeBron didn’t attack the rim. Dallas is going to have to turn Wade into a jump shooter the same way they have done to LeBron. Put a small defender on him and dare him to drive only to have Chandler or Marion rotate over early and cut of the drive before it gets clsoe to the paint. 

6. Like A Bosh - I don’t care to talk about Bosh much but I heard Jon Barry on the Jim Rome show this morning assert that there 20 other guys that can do what Bosh does. He then went on to name all one of them.

I’m sure there are guys who can do what Bosh does, sort of. What Bosh does regularly, sure, a lot of guys average the same stats. but what Bosh can do and what he has done? I don’t think there are more than five guys who can do what Chris has done. See, Bosh was one of the 10 best players in the game just 12 months ago and it’s silly to pretend he wasn’t just because he moved to South Beach. For a guy who averaged 25 and 12 to take a limited role and still put up All-Star worthy numbers and to still be ready to perform like a #2 or even a #1 on some nights (see Chicago series) is almost unheard of. Kevin Garnett comes to mind, maybe Lamar Odom. That’s about it. I don’t think people realize the value of sacrificing and yet being ready to perform. 

With that said, Bosh is going to have to play better than he has in these finals. His shooting is off and his rebounding can improve. Especially if LeBron continues to sturggle. 

7. Getting Dirk’d On - Dirk is one glorious specimen. The gutsy performance in Game 4 should cement his legacy in the NBA history books. i asked this question before and it seemed silly but I think it’s appropriate to ask again; If Miami wins the NBA Finals, should Dirk still win the MVP trophy? I think so. he’s been that damn good. Can’t really ask for him to do anything more. Okay, maybe he can take more shots. Especially those off-balance-one-legged-bank shots. 

8. Free Throws - I thought free throws would have a larger influence on who won the games. So far, it’s been a toss up. The team that’s taken more free throws is 1 and 3 and the team that’s made more free throws is 2 and 2. Maybe I should change this factor to be the LeBron-effort factor because so far, his lack of drives to the rim are the reason Dallas has been able to edge Miami in free throw shooting and attempts. 

Pivotal Game 5 is tonight, 9:00PM EST on ABC. Tune in to see if Jack Shephard can get the Miami Heat off Dallas Island with a winand don’t forget to follow us on Twitter

@Suga_Shane

Game 3 Recap and Game 4 Preview: Where Dwayne Wade Happens
Dwyane Wade and LeBron James are on the same team. It’s still hard for some to fathom. Not the fact that they are playing together but the fact that they are the top two players in the NBA.
Lurking all season in the shadow of a 6’9”, 280 pound monster named LeBron is the second scariest force in the NBA. Wade is so good that sometimes his 6’3” frame eclipses the large and more imposing LeBron James. 
Let’s be clear for a moment, LeBron hasn’t been bad, he just hasn’t been LeBron. His numbers are very good for anyone else, people have just been “spoiled” to the point that they expect better. He’s averaging 20.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 6 assists on 51.1% shooting in the finals. He also carried Miami through the three previous series while Wade was sleepwalking. Dwyane Wade has finally woken up. And he’s hungry. Starving, even. He’s momentarily become the best player on the planet, averaging an unreal 29.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.7 blocks, 1.3 steals on 56.7% shooting in the Finals. 
I’m not sure why people find it to be an issue when Wade outplays LeBron in a game. It is, after all, Dwyane Wade. For some of us, this is a phenomenal ”problem” to have. For others, it’s nothing more than gasoline to help drive their LeBron James book burning. I think the issue for some folks doesn’t stem from their disdain for LeBron as much as it highlights, as Kelly Dwyer pointed out last night, how underrated Wade has been for his entire career. 
Dwyane Wade is the 2nd best player in basketball, and on some nights, he’s the best player in the world. That’s what makes this Miami team so lethal. It’s a combination so good that it drove LeBron to torch his own legacy to be a part of. I’m surprised that more people can’t comprehend the fact that it’s okay for LeBron to deffer to Dwyane. Did Shaq and Kobe not share the spotlight to three rings? Didn’t Kareem and Magic both win Finals MVPs? Didn’t Tony Parker hoist up his own Bill Russell Trophy as Tim Duncan was crowned with his 4th title?
These things happen because great TEAMS win titles. And great teams are littered with great talent. That’s how they get this far and that’s how they win. And last night we saw exactly why the majority of NBA fans despised this Miami trio. On any given night, anyone of the Big 3 can light you up. You don’t know who and you don’t know how, but you know for damn sure it’s going to happen. 
I called Wade winning the Finals MVP coming into to this series for one reason, match-ups. LeBron has to deal with Shawn Marion, the best 1-on-1 defender Dallas has, while Wade is going at a 38-year old Jason Kidd and a 6’1” Jason Terry. Who do you think has the advantage here? Maybe we should applaud LeBron for having the basketball I.Q. to not force the action. The man is doing the exact opposite of what we grill Kobe Bryant for, he is facilitating his teams entire offense and leading them on defense, yet, for some reason, we find a problem with this. As J.A. Adande wrote today, “LeBron is in a no-win situation”. We want him to be Jordan, when he is more Magic. We want him to win rings, but we want him to be selfish in doing so. But we hate how selfish he is off the court. With Miami up 2-1, I wonder what the knock will be on LeBron if they do win the title. “LeBron let Wade lift the Larry O’Brien trophy first”? 
Oh, by the way, some All-Star named Chris Bosh hit the game winner for Miami last night. Unfair? C’est la vie. 
But enough about Miami, let’s get into a little Dirk-speak. The Big German almost did it again. 34 points and 11 rebounds might not be enough for this Dallas team. He’s going to have to drop a cool 40 every night for Dallas to have a chance. JJ is over matched and the Jet seems to be gassed. Shawn Marion is the x-factor and the guy that most teams double off of but he has to deal with LeBron’s recovery speed, which has been unreal, and the weary legs of covering that very same freak of nature on the other end of the court. 
Spoelstra made some very good adjustments in this game after I burned him at the steak for his unwillingness to coach the final 7 minutes of Game 2. No series is over until it’s over but the winner of Game 3 when the series was tied 1-1 has won the title 11 times out of 11 series. That’s a staggering number and while historic stats don’t tell the whole story, Miami can go ahead with a little reassurance. The game of basketball is about match-ups and adjustments. Miami will always have the match-up war won because they will always have 3 of the best 4 players on the court. Now it’s on Spoelstra to make the proper adjustments to get this team in a position to win. 
Let’s take a look at the Eight Factors of this game and how each team will need to adjust going forward.  
1. No Rebounds, No Rings - Miami got outworked on the glass for the second straight game. I have to fault Chris Bosh for this one as much as I have to credit Dallas’ team effort. Bosh is averaging a puny 6.7 rebounds a game. Some of it comes from the nature of his playing style and some of it is due to how aggressive and menacing Dallas is in the paint. Chandler and Haywood have been bruisers all playoffs and they haven’t toned it down one bit for the Finals but for Dallas, rebounding has become a team effort. Last night Dirk and Kidd stepped in to help Tyson control the boards. Dirk, who has always been knocked for not rebounding enough, collected 11 rebounds and it’s that rebounding effort that helped Dallas stay in this game until the end. 
2. J.J. Barea - I know he’s tiny in stature, but Dallas has to find him and quickly. Maybe they need to get him in the game when Bibby will have to guard him because Mario Chalmers has outplayed JJ on both ends of the court. Dallas can’t play Peja and JJ has been a non-factor so all Dallas has left on the bench is Terry. Last night Terry struggled too. Things are looking bleek if Dallas’ bench, who player starter like minutes, can’t find their groove. 
3. Turnovers - Dallas had 18 assists in Game 3 and 14 turnovers. Miami, in contrast, had 20 assists and 10 turnovers. But turnovers from Dallas are more costly than those by Miami because, as Rick Carlisle, Miami turns turnovers into dunks at an amazing pace. Of course they do, they have LeBron and Wade shooting the passing lanes then throwing each other ally-oops. It’s a guaranteed highlight every single time. Kidd has to do a better job taking care of the ball. 
4. Odd Lineups - Miami went with a little more conventional lineup to end Game 3, with Mario Chalmers playing for Mike Miller. By design, this position isn’t based on size, it’s simply designated to be a 3-point shooter and for this game, Mario was the one who couldn’t miss.
Spoelstra also made an obvious adjustment in Game 3 which he should have made in Game 2, he put Udonis Haslem on Dirk to close the game out. through out the game, Dirk was seeing a combination of Joel Anthony and Haslem. Joel did a good job, even blocked Dirk’s unblock-able fadaway, but it was UD that earned the right to defend Dirk in the clutch and defend he did. Dirk ended the game with an ugly turnover and a missed fadaway at the buzzer. Here’s the thing, Udonis is keeping Dirk to just 39% shooting. Everyone else has allowed Dirk to hit at a rate of 50%. I don’t think Miami will use Bosh on Dirk again. 
If Haslem is the one guarding Dirk for the last few minutes of Game 2, do the Heat lead this series 3 games to none? It’s something to ponder. 
5. Chandler, Marion, Haywood - Chandler was as great as he can be with a fully operational Dwyane Wade zooming around the hardwood. The issue for Dallas was that Haywood is out with an injury and Shawn Marion is struggling on offense. Although, Marion has done a good job of focusing his efforts on defending LeBron. but again, none of this matters when Wade is playing at 100% effectiveness. He can get to the cup at will and last night he did that. Miami outscored Dallas in the paint 40 to 22.
Many might find that to be odd, especially since Miami’s only big man who can score prefers 17-foot jumpers. They forget that drives and dunks are also points in the paint and Miami has a duo that are the best in the league at finishing at the rim. 
6. Like A Bosh - Chris Bosh absolutely stunk for the third straight game. But he hit the game winner. So like a Bosh to do such a thing. 
7. Getting Dirk’d On - Or perhaps, Miami isn’t getting Dirk’d enough. Dirk took 21 shots in this game and while that’s above his regular season and playoff averages of 16 and 18 respectively, it’s nights like this that Dirk has to carry a heavier load. If his teammates, who can be streaky shooters, aren’t going to hit their shots, Dirk’s going to have to take closer to 25 or 30 field goal attempts in a game. 
I don’t think anyone would have a problem with that, especially if Dallas wins the game. 
8. Free Throws - Miami is still far behind Dallas in free throw attempts in this series and I don’t think they are going to catch them. LeBron, who is crowned with more superstar calls than anyone I’ve seen in a long time, has had just 10 free throws in 3 Finals games. Some of it has to do with LeBron taking and making a lot of long jumpers. But LeBron just isn’t getting the calls in this series and it’s obvious, sometimes blatantly obvious. But that’s not here or there, both teams can’t change that or adjust for it. You live by what the officials call, or in this case, don’t call. 
For Game 4, I can see Dallas coming out motivated and desperate with a fired up Dallas crowd behind them. Game 3 was a very close game, as has this series, and I don’t see that changing for Game 4.
We can expect Miami to be a little complacent considering they just won back home court advantage and have a respectable 2-1 series lead. But I expect a different outcome. I bet LeBron is going to take the idiotic question and article from some condescending reporter and use them to burn Dallas with a Wade-esque performance of his own. 
Game 4 is Tuesday, 9:00PM EST on ABC. Tune in and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter. 
@Suga_Shane

Game 3 Recap and Game 4 Preview: Where Dwayne Wade Happens

Dwyane Wade and LeBron James are on the same team. It’s still hard for some to fathom. Not the fact that they are playing together but the fact that they are the top two players in the NBA.

Lurking all season in the shadow of a 6’9”, 280 pound monster named LeBron is the second scariest force in the NBA. Wade is so good that sometimes his 6’3” frame eclipses the large and more imposing LeBron James. 

Let’s be clear for a moment, LeBron hasn’t been bad, he just hasn’t been LeBron. His numbers are very good for anyone else, people have just been “spoiled” to the point that they expect better. He’s averaging 20.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 6 assists on 51.1% shooting in the finals. He also carried Miami through the three previous series while Wade was sleepwalking. Dwyane Wade has finally woken up. And he’s hungry. Starving, even. He’s momentarily become the best player on the planet, averaging an unreal 29.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.7 blocks, 1.3 steals on 56.7% shooting in the Finals. 

I’m not sure why people find it to be an issue when Wade outplays LeBron in a game. It is, after all, Dwyane Wade. For some of us, this is a phenomenal ”problem” to have. For others, it’s nothing more than gasoline to help drive their LeBron James book burning. I think the issue for some folks doesn’t stem from their disdain for LeBron as much as it highlights, as Kelly Dwyer pointed out last night, how underrated Wade has been for his entire career. 

Dwyane Wade is the 2nd best player in basketball, and on some nights, he’s the best player in the world. That’s what makes this Miami team so lethal. It’s a combination so good that it drove LeBron to torch his own legacy to be a part of. I’m surprised that more people can’t comprehend the fact that it’s okay for LeBron to deffer to Dwyane. Did Shaq and Kobe not share the spotlight to three rings? Didn’t Kareem and Magic both win Finals MVPs? Didn’t Tony Parker hoist up his own Bill Russell Trophy as Tim Duncan was crowned with his 4th title?

These things happen because great TEAMS win titles. And great teams are littered with great talent. That’s how they get this far and that’s how they win. And last night we saw exactly why the majority of NBA fans despised this Miami trio. On any given night, anyone of the Big 3 can light you up. You don’t know who and you don’t know how, but you know for damn sure it’s going to happen. 

I called Wade winning the Finals MVP coming into to this series for one reason, match-ups. LeBron has to deal with Shawn Marion, the best 1-on-1 defender Dallas has, while Wade is going at a 38-year old Jason Kidd and a 6’1” Jason Terry. Who do you think has the advantage here? Maybe we should applaud LeBron for having the basketball I.Q. to not force the action. The man is doing the exact opposite of what we grill Kobe Bryant for, he is facilitating his teams entire offense and leading them on defense, yet, for some reason, we find a problem with this. As J.A. Adande wrote today, “LeBron is in a no-win situation”. We want him to be Jordan, when he is more Magic. We want him to win rings, but we want him to be selfish in doing so. But we hate how selfish he is off the court. With Miami up 2-1, I wonder what the knock will be on LeBron if they do win the title. “LeBron let Wade lift the Larry O’Brien trophy first”? 

Oh, by the way, some All-Star named Chris Bosh hit the game winner for Miami last night. Unfair? C’est la vie. 

But enough about Miami, let’s get into a little Dirk-speak. The Big German almost did it again. 34 points and 11 rebounds might not be enough for this Dallas team. He’s going to have to drop a cool 40 every night for Dallas to have a chance. JJ is over matched and the Jet seems to be gassed. Shawn Marion is the x-factor and the guy that most teams double off of but he has to deal with LeBron’s recovery speed, which has been unreal, and the weary legs of covering that very same freak of nature on the other end of the court. 

Spoelstra made some very good adjustments in this game after I burned him at the steak for his unwillingness to coach the final 7 minutes of Game 2. No series is over until it’s over but the winner of Game 3 when the series was tied 1-1 has won the title 11 times out of 11 series. That’s a staggering number and while historic stats don’t tell the whole story, Miami can go ahead with a little reassurance. The game of basketball is about match-ups and adjustments. Miami will always have the match-up war won because they will always have 3 of the best 4 players on the court. Now it’s on Spoelstra to make the proper adjustments to get this team in a position to win. 

Let’s take a look at the Eight Factors of this game and how each team will need to adjust going forward.  

1. No Rebounds, No Rings - Miami got outworked on the glass for the second straight game. I have to fault Chris Bosh for this one as much as I have to credit Dallas’ team effort. Bosh is averaging a puny 6.7 rebounds a game. Some of it comes from the nature of his playing style and some of it is due to how aggressive and menacing Dallas is in the paint. Chandler and Haywood have been bruisers all playoffs and they haven’t toned it down one bit for the Finals but for Dallas, rebounding has become a team effort. Last night Dirk and Kidd stepped in to help Tyson control the boards. Dirk, who has always been knocked for not rebounding enough, collected 11 rebounds and it’s that rebounding effort that helped Dallas stay in this game until the end. 

2. J.J. Barea - I know he’s tiny in stature, but Dallas has to find him and quickly. Maybe they need to get him in the game when Bibby will have to guard him because Mario Chalmers has outplayed JJ on both ends of the court. Dallas can’t play Peja and JJ has been a non-factor so all Dallas has left on the bench is Terry. Last night Terry struggled too. Things are looking bleek if Dallas’ bench, who player starter like minutes, can’t find their groove. 

3. Turnovers - Dallas had 18 assists in Game 3 and 14 turnovers. Miami, in contrast, had 20 assists and 10 turnovers. But turnovers from Dallas are more costly than those by Miami because, as Rick Carlisle, Miami turns turnovers into dunks at an amazing pace. Of course they do, they have LeBron and Wade shooting the passing lanes then throwing each other ally-oops. It’s a guaranteed highlight every single time. Kidd has to do a better job taking care of the ball. 

4. Odd Lineups - Miami went with a little more conventional lineup to end Game 3, with Mario Chalmers playing for Mike Miller. By design, this position isn’t based on size, it’s simply designated to be a 3-point shooter and for this game, Mario was the one who couldn’t miss.

Spoelstra also made an obvious adjustment in Game 3 which he should have made in Game 2, he put Udonis Haslem on Dirk to close the game out. through out the game, Dirk was seeing a combination of Joel Anthony and Haslem. Joel did a good job, even blocked Dirk’s unblock-able fadaway, but it was UD that earned the right to defend Dirk in the clutch and defend he did. Dirk ended the game with an ugly turnover and a missed fadaway at the buzzer. Here’s the thing, Udonis is keeping Dirk to just 39% shooting. Everyone else has allowed Dirk to hit at a rate of 50%. I don’t think Miami will use Bosh on Dirk again. 

If Haslem is the one guarding Dirk for the last few minutes of Game 2, do the Heat lead this series 3 games to none? It’s something to ponder. 

5. Chandler, Marion, Haywood - Chandler was as great as he can be with a fully operational Dwyane Wade zooming around the hardwood. The issue for Dallas was that Haywood is out with an injury and Shawn Marion is struggling on offense. Although, Marion has done a good job of focusing his efforts on defending LeBron. but again, none of this matters when Wade is playing at 100% effectiveness. He can get to the cup at will and last night he did that. Miami outscored Dallas in the paint 40 to 22.

Many might find that to be odd, especially since Miami’s only big man who can score prefers 17-foot jumpers. They forget that drives and dunks are also points in the paint and Miami has a duo that are the best in the league at finishing at the rim. 

6. Like A Bosh - Chris Bosh absolutely stunk for the third straight game. But he hit the game winner. So like a Bosh to do such a thing. 

7. Getting Dirk’d On - Or perhaps, Miami isn’t getting Dirk’d enough. Dirk took 21 shots in this game and while that’s above his regular season and playoff averages of 16 and 18 respectively, it’s nights like this that Dirk has to carry a heavier load. If his teammates, who can be streaky shooters, aren’t going to hit their shots, Dirk’s going to have to take closer to 25 or 30 field goal attempts in a game. 

I don’t think anyone would have a problem with that, especially if Dallas wins the game. 

8. Free Throws - Miami is still far behind Dallas in free throw attempts in this series and I don’t think they are going to catch them. LeBron, who is crowned with more superstar calls than anyone I’ve seen in a long time, has had just 10 free throws in 3 Finals games. Some of it has to do with LeBron taking and making a lot of long jumpers. But LeBron just isn’t getting the calls in this series and it’s obvious, sometimes blatantly obvious. But that’s not here or there, both teams can’t change that or adjust for it. You live by what the officials call, or in this case, don’t call. 

For Game 4, I can see Dallas coming out motivated and desperate with a fired up Dallas crowd behind them. Game 3 was a very close game, as has this series, and I don’t see that changing for Game 4.

We can expect Miami to be a little complacent considering they just won back home court advantage and have a respectable 2-1 series lead. But I expect a different outcome. I bet LeBron is going to take the idiotic question and article from some condescending reporter and use them to burn Dallas with a Wade-esque performance of his own. 

Game 4 is Tuesday, 9:00PM EST on ABC. Tune in and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter

@Suga_Shane

We all love goofing on Bosh, hell, I started back in his Toronto days, but that left eye is jacked up. Then, he hits a loooooong jumper to give Miami the ‘W’. Sometimes we all have to give credit where credit is due. Sometimes.

We all love goofing on Bosh, hell, I started back in his Toronto days, but that left eye is jacked up. Then, he hits a loooooong jumper to give Miami the ‘W’. Sometimes we all have to give credit where credit is due. Sometimes.

gotemcoach:

(click for beautiful, super-high res)
Laker fans check out gotemcoach.com
This play should be remembered as one of the greatest moves in NBA Finals history.  Absolutely remarkable control.  Caught it at the very peak of his jump. 
Lakers took the loss, and this tip-in has been relegated to the back seat behind Shannon Brown’s Game 6 alley-opp dunk, which while spectacular, was not nearly as difficult or skilled.  Rewatch the highlight here. 
(photo via @nba_photos)

(brainworks/gotemcoach)

gotemcoach:

(click for beautiful, super-high res)

Laker fans check out gotemcoach.com

This play should be remembered as one of the greatest moves in NBA Finals history.  Absolutely remarkable control.  Caught it at the very peak of his jump. 

Lakers took the loss, and this tip-in has been relegated to the back seat behind Shannon Brown’s Game 6 alley-opp dunk, which while spectacular, was not nearly as difficult or skilled.  Rewatch the highlight here

(photo via @nba_photos)

(brainworks/gotemcoach)

Esquire interviewed the Boston Celtics Cheerleaders about their predictions for the upcoming Finals series with the Los Angeles Lakers. Guess who they’re rooting for?
Here’s “Ashley’s” take on Fighting:
 
A Fight?

ESQ: Rasheed Wallace is the NBA’s all-time leader technical fouls leader. Ron Artest is, well, Ron Artest. Think it could get ugly? ASHLEY: You’ll see, when ‘Sheed gets mad, Rondo runs over and cools him off. When he’s right about something, that’s when he gets fired up. There’s always three sides to the story — his side, the other team’s side, the ref’s side. And then there’s the truth.

Click the photo to read what the other ladies in Green have to say about the Celtics/Lakers future. Dare we say, it’s insightful?

Esquire interviewed the Boston Celtics Cheerleaders about their predictions for the upcoming Finals series with the Los Angeles Lakers. Guess who they’re rooting for?

Here’s “Ashley’s” take on Fighting:

 

A Fight?

ESQ: Rasheed Wallace is the NBA’s all-time leader technical fouls leader. Ron Artest is, well, Ron Artest. Think it could get ugly? 
ASHLEY: You’ll see, when ‘Sheed gets mad, Rondo runs over and cools him off. When he’s right about something, that’s when he gets fired up. There’s always three sides to the story — his side, the other team’s side, the ref’s side. And then there’s the truth.

Click the photo to read what the other ladies in Green have to say about the Celtics/Lakers future. Dare we say, it’s insightful?

In this world, there are a lot of things that matter.  Rarely, if ever, do sports fall too highly on that list.  Even most championships, it could be argued, take place once a year, more or less rendering them insignificant, and certainly not unique.
It is this general lack of true importance that allows some events, certain moments and the occasional player, team or game to transcend. Rivalry is an instance where sports cease to be just sports.  In good rivalries, it’s City v. City.  Team v. Team.  Fans v. Fans.  Even still, with the ever changing landscape in sports today, both professional and collegiate, including free agency or early entrance into league drafts, expansion, skyrocketing player salaries or crooked recruiting, performance-enhancing drugs, etc., it’s tough to keep a rivalry heated. One rivalry that far exceeds the boundaries of sport, reaching much further into society than a lot of people give it credit for, is the greatest rivalry ever – The Lakers vs. The Celtics.When I was a kid, like most, not much mattered.  I loved grilled cheese sandwiches, and playing in the backyard.  But when the Lakers and the Celtics played each other, I remember caring because it seemed like everyone else did.  I stopped whatever I was doing in the backyard, went inside, and turned on CBS.
This will be the 64th Championship in the NBA, and the Lakers and Celtics will have won 33 of them.  The Celtics have made the Finals 21 times, and the Lakers 31.  The 2010 Finals is the 12th time these two franchises are facing each other for the title, a record across all of sports.  Each team has 20+ Hall of Famers, a gang of retired numbers, and enough history to choke and kill a large, strong, virile horse.  There is nothing like this in sport.
The Celtics won 11 championships in 13 seasons. The Lakers are going for their 2nd in a row, 5th in their last 11 seasons, and 10th in the last 30.  Let us examine the ‘80’s, or as I like to call it, “The Greatest Decade of Any Sport.” 
From the ten year stretch of ‘79-‘80 to ‘88-‘89, one of these two teams played in every Finals, and between them, won 8 of the 10 championships of the decade.  Larry Bird and Magic Johnson resurrected the league from near financial failure in the 1970’s, and are widely considered two of the 5 greatest players of the sport, at the very least.  Add to them players the caliber of Robert Parish, Kevin McHale, Dennis Johnson, NBA all-time leading scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Byron Scott and you see two of the all-time great dynasties, mirroring each other, built to smash each other. 
Take into account the players and teams they competed against including the Bulls and Michael Jordan, the Pistons and Isiah Thomas, the Sixers and Dr. J, the Rockets of Sampson and Olajuwon, the Malone and Stockton Jazz, etc., etc. and their dominance is even more amazing.
What makes this rivalry unique is not just the incomparable statistics and numbers, players and history.  It’s the fact that Lakers v. Celtics represents so much.  From ‘58-‘59 to ‘68-‘69, the Celtics beat the Lakers in the Finals 7 times in a row.  At that time, Lakers v. Celtics was about a wood shed ass-whuppin’.
In the ‘80’s, this battle became about much more. Two styles of basketball: fast break v. half court.  Two schools of thought: progressive v. traditional.  Two major coastal cities separated by an entire country-worth of land: sunny LA and the seemingly always autumnal Boston.  Two lifestyles: Hollywood glamour v. blue collar Boston grit.  Style v. substance.  And lastly, to a good and completely fair extent, blacks v. whites.  This rivalry was an allegory for attitudes, cultures and racial equality.  And if you don’t want to take it from me, ask African-American and Caucasian basketball fans of the appropriate age.
And this Finals is no different.  The Celtics are rough and tumble veterans.  Cagey.  Hard nosed.  Physical.  The Lakers are the pretty boys.  Flashy.  A finesse team.  Soft.  The Celtics are playing to cement their return to dynasty status.  The Lakers are out for ‘08’ revenge. 
Garnett wants to prove he still has plenty of gas in the tank.  Pierce wants to prove he should be in the best player conversation with Kobe and LeBron.  Rondo wants to prove he’s as good as Paul, Williams and Nash.  Pau wants to prove he’s not soft.  Ron wants to prove he’s a champion.  And Kobe needs to prove he can beat the Celtics.
(You can’t be the best player ever if you can’t beat your biggest rival when it matters.)
We will never see two teams play each other and mean more to the people watching them.  It was, and continues to be, remarkable. Representative. So, when they tip at Staples tomorrow, stop what you’re doing in the backyard, grab a grilled cheese, get in front of the television, and remember and revere what it used to be, and will always be to me.
(brainworks / @howmybrainworks)

In this world, there are a lot of things that matter.  Rarely, if ever, do sports fall too highly on that list.  Even most championships, it could be argued, take place once a year, more or less rendering them insignificant, and certainly not unique.

It is this general lack of true importance that allows some events, certain moments and the occasional player, team or game to transcend.

Rivalry is an instance where sports cease to be just sports.  In good rivalries, it’s City v. City.  Team v. Team.  Fans v. Fans.  Even still, with the ever changing landscape in sports today, both professional and collegiate, including free agency or early entrance into league drafts, expansion, skyrocketing player salaries or crooked recruiting, performance-enhancing drugs, etc., it’s tough to keep a rivalry heated.

One rivalry that far exceeds the boundaries of sport, reaching much further into society than a lot of people give it credit for, is the greatest rivalry ever – The Lakers vs. The Celtics.

When I was a kid, like most, not much mattered.  I loved grilled cheese sandwiches, and playing in the backyard.  But when the Lakers and the Celtics played each other, I remember caring because it seemed like everyone else did.  I stopped whatever I was doing in the backyard, went inside, and turned on CBS.

This will be the 64th Championship in the NBA, and the Lakers and Celtics will have won 33 of them.  The Celtics have made the Finals 21 times, and the Lakers 31.  The 2010 Finals is the 12th time these two franchises are facing each other for the title, a record across all of sports.  Each team has 20+ Hall of Famers, a gang of retired numbers, and enough history to choke and kill a large, strong, virile horse.  There is nothing like this in sport.

The Celtics won 11 championships in 13 seasons. The Lakers are going for their 2nd in a row, 5th in their last 11 seasons, and 10th in the last 30.  Let us examine the ‘80’s, or as I like to call it, “The Greatest Decade of Any Sport.” 

From the ten year stretch of ‘79-‘80 to ‘88-‘89, one of these two teams played in every Finals, and between them, won 8 of the 10 championships of the decade.  Larry Bird and Magic Johnson resurrected the league from near financial failure in the 1970’s, and are widely considered two of the 5 greatest players of the sport, at the very least.  Add to them players the caliber of Robert Parish, Kevin McHale, Dennis Johnson, NBA all-time leading scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Byron Scott and you see two of the all-time great dynasties, mirroring each other, built to smash each other. 

Take into account the players and teams they competed against including the Bulls and Michael Jordan, the Pistons and Isiah Thomas, the Sixers and Dr. J, the Rockets of Sampson and Olajuwon, the Malone and Stockton Jazz, etc., etc. and their dominance is even more amazing.

What makes this rivalry unique is not just the incomparable statistics and numbers, players and history.  It’s the fact that Lakers v. Celtics represents so much.  From ‘58-‘59 to ‘68-‘69, the Celtics beat the Lakers in the Finals 7 times in a row.  At that time, Lakers v. Celtics was about a wood shed ass-whuppin’.

In the ‘80’s, this battle became about much more. Two styles of basketball: fast break v. half court.  Two schools of thought: progressive v. traditional.  Two major coastal cities separated by an entire country-worth of land: sunny LA and the seemingly always autumnal Boston.  Two lifestyles: Hollywood glamour v. blue collar Boston grit.  Style v. substance.  And lastly, to a good and completely fair extent, blacks v. whites.  This rivalry was an allegory for attitudes, cultures and racial equality.  And if you don’t want to take it from me, ask African-American and Caucasian basketball fans of the appropriate age.

And this Finals is no different.  The Celtics are rough and tumble veterans.  Cagey.  Hard nosed.  Physical.  The Lakers are the pretty boys.  Flashy.  A finesse team.  Soft.  The Celtics are playing to cement their return to dynasty status.  The Lakers are out for ‘08’ revenge. 

Garnett wants to prove he still has plenty of gas in the tank.  Pierce wants to prove he should be in the best player conversation with Kobe and LeBron.  Rondo wants to prove he’s as good as Paul, Williams and Nash.  Pau wants to prove he’s not soft.  Ron wants to prove he’s a champion.  And Kobe needs to prove he can beat the Celtics.

(You can’t be the best player ever if you can’t beat your biggest rival when it matters.)


We will never see two teams play each other and mean more to the people watching them.  It was, and continues to be, remarkable. Representative.

So, when they tip at Staples tomorrow, stop what you’re doing in the backyard, grab a grilled cheese, get in front of the television, and remember and revere what it used to be, and will always be to me.

(brainworks / @howmybrainworks)

If the Hulkster and Gina Marie can’t deliver a win for the Magic, no one can.
P.S. - We know you’re hiding a Spector-like secret with that bandana and we still love you, Hulk.

If the Hulkster and Gina Marie can’t deliver a win for the Magic, no one can.

P.S. - We know you’re hiding a Spector-like secret with that bandana and we still love you, Hulk.

I was shocked. I was shocked. It’s tough. You’re thinking Coach will come back to you. The first two games I could understand, but again we were right there to win the game. As a player you would like to have your number called.
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