Saturday, June 22, 2013

Miami Heat Win NBA Title #2 in the LeBron James Era

The Miami Heat win their third NBA title with a game seven win over the San Antonio Spurs.  LeBron had his best game of the series and cemented his title as King James despite a "lackluster" series in which he averaged 25.3 points, 10.9 boards, seven assists, 2.3 steals and almost a block a game and "only" shot 44% (35% on threes).  While his performance could be picked apart for the first five and a half games, the last quarter of game six and game seven he was on and carried this team to a championship.

Game 7:  To me this game came down to depth and LeBron and Wade stepping up.  Combine an effective three point shooter, in this case Battier, with those two having good games and they are tough to beat (i.e. the regular season).  Chalmers didn't have a great game but added a 30 foot three point shot to close out the third quarter.  To me that really hurt after Manu had gotten the Spurs up by two with 5 second left in the quarter.  I thought having Parker on the bench at the end of the game and Ginobili's really quick/forced three point shot with 28 seconds left doomed the Spurs. 

I think this was a great series even though some of the games weren't close.  Spurs fans will always replay the  "what if" scenarios in their mind as will the players.  The fact they didn't win shouldn't be a detractor from what Duncan, Pop and the rest of the Spurs have done for what seems like forever.  Should they have won it?  Probably.  But I think most people believe Miami was the better team going in and San Antonio was the sexy pick.  It just wasn't to be.  It was either LeBron or Spoelstra who said it takes a little luck to win games like game six and it went their way.

What I did enjoy seeing after game seven was the respect the players and coaches all showed each other.  The series was notable for the lack of trash talking, chest thumping,  and players getting into other player's faces.  I liked that.  It carried over after the series as you saw Pop taking time to actually say something and embrace the Heat before leaving the floor (and he did it with a smile on his face).  The Heat gushed over the Spurs as a team every time they spoke.  Again it was very refreshing to see two teams who were professional to a player just go out and play very hard with the intent to win and not to show anyone up or play the fool.  Good job.     

Like many I was really rooting for the Spurs.  Luckily I'm not a die hard Spurs fan because this series was so hard to watch and I know those fans are hurting.  "The agony of defeat..." probably puts it most apt...

Random series related links...
Yaj - Game 7 Recap

Interview with LeBron After the Game Seven Win

Spurs Thoughts on Game 7 Loss

48 Minutes of Hell Look at the Spurs Loss of the NBA Finals

Random gripe:  I get why teams will roll the ball up court to preserve time on the clock.  It annoys me when teams do it as much as Miami did in this series.  They did it early in the game when there was no reason to.  They didn't know if they needed extra time on the clock.  In some games they did it when they were winning.  Were they preserving time for Spurs?  Just a little thing that annoyed me.   

One of the great things about this series is I was able to watch the last three games with my sisters and their families to include by brother-in-law Curtis who got me hooked on the NBA in the late 70's with a game called Statis Pro Basketball.  We played a gazillion of those games and watched many a game together which was a blast.  Doing so again this last week was awesome and a great memory I'll always have of this series.   

Next is free agency, the draft, and hope that our teams will be challenging for a championship next year.  Or in the case of Atlanta Hawks and Portland Trail Blazer fans that each at least made the playoffs...

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Movie Review: Man of Steel

Watched Man of Steel yesterday with some family I'm visiting.  Excellent movie.  As my daughter texted me earlier in the week, "they got it right".  Superman isn't the easiest character to make a movie about and we haven't had a good Superman entry since Superman II in 1980 which also featured Zod as the bad guy.  Since then III and IV and Superman Returns all flopped.  Fans and critics alike were not impressed.  I'm not saying this movie was perfect but it was a very good movie and the two hours and 23 minutes flew by. 

The acting was very good from Henry Cavill (who I didn't know of) as Superman, Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Michael Shannon (Zod), Diane Lane (Mom), andto the two dads, Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner.  All characters were cast well and I was pleasantly surprised by how much air time Crowe and Costner received. 

The plot/storyline was solid.  Easy to follow as they really fleshed out Superman's back story which I thought was a big positive for the movie.  Basics are Superman sent as a baby from a dying planet to earth and raised by humans.  Bad guys from said planet arrive later to retrieve Superman and take over planet.  Fighty fighty ensues.  Lots of action in this movie as it should be.  From what happened on Krypton to the end there was plenty to keep you entertained.  The best part is when foes with superhero strength fight there should be massive destruction.  The movie didn't disappoint in this aspect.  Some movies with superhero's have masked what might truly happen.  Not here.  These guys fight a big boy fight and there is tons of ruin left in their wake.  The massive violence accounts for the PG-13 rating.  The only goofy thing was what seemed like 30 minutes of previews we sat through.  We all agreed the amount of previews was long.  Hopefully it isn't the same everywhere. 

I highly suggest anyone on the fence go see this movie.  It is action packed, easy to watch/follow and should make a Superman fan out of many who get to see their first good Supes movie in over three decades.  Hopefully the trend will follow with the sequel that is sure to follow. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

NBA Finals

I'm on the road and haven't been able to put much here and to tell you the truth Yaj does a much better job of analyzing the games and the series.  I'm putting my thoughts there.  I suggest everyone go to his blog to see what he has to say about the series.  The link is below.  You won't be disappointed.

Yaj's Blog

Monday, June 10, 2013

NBA Finals 2-3-2 Format

The 2-3-2 format comes under fire each year when the NBA Finals are played.  Two games are played at the home of the team with the best record, then three games at the opponents home arena and the final two games are again at the home of the team with the best record.  This is done to cut down on travel between the Eastern and Western Conference champions who square off against each other in the NBA Finals.  Many think it gives an advantage to the team that has three in a row.  I don't agree. 

I like it.  The format used for earlier rounds of the NBA playoffs is 2-2-1-1-1.  Again the team with the best record has the first two games at home.  The pressure is still on them to win the first two games or they lose home court advantage.  No different than in the Finals.  Yes they would then be on the road for three games but any team who has reached the Finals has probably proven they can win on the road.  Sure the competition is stiffer now but if you can't win on the road you'd better get off the porch as the old saying says. 

I also believe it benefits both teams by cutting down on travel.  In the previous rounds both teams must travel up to four times per round which cuts down on any rest teams may hope to get.  With the NBA playoffs taking what seems like an additional four months to play rest is a good thing for players in the Finals who could be playing anywhere from 16 to 28 games after the regular season ends.

This isn't the most passionate subject I'll ever write on.  I do think there is no reason to tinker with it.  Let the teams get some extra rest.  If you are the better team, by record, then man up and win the first two games and then go win on the road.  Maybe not as dramatic as an underdog winning game six at home to force a game seven on the road to win it all but I don't think there is a good enough argument to change things around.  But I'm always open to hear folks arguments...

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

NBA Finals: Spurs vs Heat

First, I think Miami wins this series.  I also think it will go seven games.  I also think it will be a great series.  Considering my history of picking this bodes well for the Spurs.  And I will be rooting for the Spurs every bit of the way.  I'm not what I would consider a fan of the Spurs but I loved the old George Gervin, Artis Gilmore days and was a fan of many of their players over the years (Alvin Robertson, David Robinson, Sean Elliott, and others).  So I've followed them for some time and my pal Yaj is a huge fan so Spurs discussions are not hard to come by.  See Yaj's coverage of the Spurs this postseason here. 

I won't go too in depth here because, one, I'm not that smart and I really just want to throw out how I feel about the match ups.  For me this begins and ends with LeBron James.  Guarding him will fall to Kawhi Leonard.  He is a good defender but James is just short of Superman.  Good luck Kawhi.  Of course he will get help and I know Gregg Poppovich is gearing his defense to maybe not Stop LeBron but to limit the damage he does.  Make him take tougher shots, no easy drives to the basket, etc, etc.  Same think every other team has tried to do with varying success.  You just have to know he will get his 25 points, 7 boards and 6 assists.  What you don't want him to do is take over games where he elevates the Heat on his shoulder and his teammates all look the Robin to his Batman.  I think making his teammates better is his best attribute.  Bottom line:  make things tough on him while not allowing the Heat players to get into any type of rhythm.  On the other side Leonard is having a good playoffs and I hope the stress of guarding James doesn't hurt his overall play. 

Dwyane Wade must play better.  He doesn't have to score 20 a night but he must at least hit layups and those close to the basket shots he hasn't been able to hit consistently in these playoffs.  The good news is Manu Ginobli is also playing poorly so his job on defense may not be so tough.  Danny Green needs to continue his good play if Manu can't find his game.  Chris Bosh just has to show up, rebound and play a little D.  He was so outclassed by Roy Hibbert.  In this series he just can't put up any four point four rebound efforts or the Heat are in trouble and Tiago Splitter is an opponent he should be able to get his stats against.  Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole get to guard Tony Parker.  Parker is probably the hottest player coming into the Finals.  Can they keep up with him and play defense that will make him actually work?  I think they have as good a chance as any but those aren't the best odds.  Tim Duncan has the edge against any power forward (probably Udonis Haslem) Miami can put up against him.  He is running the floor great and I'm hoping he still has some water from the fountain of youth around.  How can you not like Gregg Poppovich over Eric Spolstra?  Poppovich will truly be the master if he can help San Antonio pull out a win in this series. 

I think Miami is the better team.  Much of that is because of LeBron James.  Indiana proved the Heat are flawed and can be beaten.  But they were a different type team.  I can't wait to see how this series plays out.  There will be those players who come out of nowhere and have great games and some of the stars who have bad nights.  That is normal.  It will be all the little stories inside the games that will make this special.  I am excited and can't wait. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Jason Kidd Retires

This will be a drive by blogging and to be honest I'm not even sure why I'm doing this.  I think it is because Jason Kidd is an enigma to me.  His numbers alone tell you he is a first ballot hall of famer - 2nd all-time in assists, 16 times he was top ten in assists per game (led 3X), 2nd all-time in steals, 12 times he was top ten in steals per game (led once), and 3rd all-time in 3-pt field goals.  He carried two lackluster New Jersey Net teams to back-to-back NBA Finals appearances (Kenyon Martin, Keith Van Horn, Kerry Kittles, Richard Jefferson were the best teammates among those two teams) and won a championship with the Dallas Mavericks near the end of his career though he was still dolling out over eight assists a game.

Still, when I think of him I don't see a hall of fame player even in the face of overwhelming stats and testimony from about anyone who has seen him play.  One of my biggest complaints, and the same one I have against Allen Iverson (for that matter I could almost right the same post about Iverson), is Jason Kidd couldn't shoot.  That isn't the end all for point guards I know.  But this guy only hit 40% of his field goals for his career to include nine seasons under that percentage.  He did develop some consistency with his shot behind the arc later in his career (seven seasons over 35%) but he will never be mistaken for Dale Ellis. 

I don't really think I'm making an argument against Jason Kidd as much as I just want to say he doesn't cut it for me.  I don't like players who can't hit shots consistently.  For as many plays as he made at the point, how many points did he cost his team by missing shots?  Yes he is a point guard and only averaged 11 shots per game in his career.  I've got to let it go.  I can't tell you how many times I've had this same argument about Allen Iverson (though he shot a heck of a lot more).  There is just something about these guys and their lack of shooting ability that really turns me off.  It is my loss as the rest of the NBA rooting world seems to be OK with it.  I'm done now and will let this argument go...for now.