Tuesday, June 12, 2012

2012 NBA Playoffs

2012 NBA Championship
Miami Heat vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (-160)
I know, I know - it's been about 2 months since my last post. Apparently this grad school thing turned out to be kind of time consuming. Still no excuse to not write about sports. As most of you know the NBA Finals starts on Tuesday with Lebron James and the Miami Heat going toe-to-toe with Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder. A dream final for the NBA and its fans. 
This could honestly be the NBA Finals for the next 5 years and I would be completely content. It has the makings of a great rivalry between the undisputed 2 best players in the game today. Enough about that here's what I think you may or may not need to know about each team before placing your 'friendly' wagers on this series...

About El Heat:
Lebron James is the best effing player in the world, and he's playing some of the best basketball I've ever seen. What he did to the Celtics in game 6 will go down as one of the most gut wrenching games I've ever watched. Here's what I mean. After Game 1, I realized that I wasn't coping very well with the stress of this series - so naturally I pulled a Billy Beane and started working out during the games. Running, Lifting, doing cock pushups - whatever I felt was necessary to will the Celtics to a victory. Sounds crazy, I know. After an astonishing Game 2 performance by Rondo, I realized that maybe my strategy had some credence. Games 3, 4, and 5 I was ecstatic to watch the Celtics reel off three wins in a row from the confines of the Drexel University rec center. So naturally, thinking that I had single-handedly changed the outcome of the Boston Celtics season, I took to my favorite treadmill and began observing Game 6. Lebron did anything and everything he wanted going on obscene 12 for 14 from the field while dropping a cool 30 points... in the first half. Mind you this was an elimination game in which the pressure against him could not have been greater. Completely un-phased he never cracked a smile. When the second half started - I thought it would be a prudent idea to kick up the speed to which I was running. Maybe if I ran faster - this would motivate the Celtics to play better, faster, stronger. Nope. Lebron continued his dominance. It got to a point in the third quarter where I found myself keeling over at some of the ridiculous shots that he was hitting. To say he ripped my heart out that night was an understatement. Basically, what I'm trying to say is - Lebron James is the best player on earth. He has the ability to win basketball games by himself. If he can channel that game 6 performance in any form the Heat should have no problem winning their first title in this experiment.

About the Thunder:
No one gave the Thunder a chance against the San Antonio Spurs. Pop, Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker were on a 20 game winning streak and up 2-0 against this young Thunder team. Every NBA pundit wrote the Thunder off saying things along the lines of "their time will come, just not right now." For a core team of Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka, and Harden that average 22.5 years in age, it sure seems like they got tired of the criticism that they were too young. Four games later, the Thunder made the Spurs look old and they looked like the exciting, upbeat, lovable team that makes this team so easy to root for. Kevin Durant has to be one of the most likable superstars because of his humble demeanor. Russell Westbrook plays such a reckless style of basketball that he makes dribbling from half court to the 3-point line an adventure. James Harden has become one of my favorite players to watch given his lack of overall athleticism. Reminds me a lot of a young Paul Pierce, crafty, clutch, and irritating for defenders. And Serge Ibaka has come from the war-stricken country of Congo to become one of the most exciting defensive players to watch in a while. As one friend put it, you'd have to be inhuman to root against this team, it's simply not possible. They've gone through 3 Western Conference powerhouses in the Mavs, Lakers, and Spurs and now have face one last juggernaut to complete an already impressive postseason run. They look primed to make Seattle look even worse for giving up on them back in 2008. 

Who Will Win?
It's true, before the beginning of the season I placed a handsome wager on the Heat to win the NBA Finals this year, so perhaps my judgment has been swayed. That being said, I truly feel like the Heat will win this series. Do they have the better coach? I don't know. Do they have the better overall team? Probably not. Do they have home court advantage? Nope. But one thing they do have is Lebron James - and as much as I've rejoiced in his recent failures - I'm ready to accept that he's too good and playing too well right now to let anything come between him and that elusive first ring. I'll take the Heat in 5. 

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