They Are NOT Who We Thought They Were

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Last night, the amazing Heatles put on a brilliant show that ended with them losing to the Indiana Pacers 78-75, evening the series at 1-1. The NBA’s so-called titile “favorite” flopped in crunch time as the Pacers were able to sneak out of AmericanAirlines Arena with a win. Throughout the game, the Heat built small leads only to see them get diminished by the Pacers. While at times, it did look as though the Heat were going to blow it out and crush the Pacers, it never actually happened. Credit, Frank Vogel.

“Defense and rebounding.”

Frank Vogel’s post game quote just about summed up the win in two words. While I will talk about the absence of Chris Bosh and the late game struggles later, I do have to give credit to Frank Vogel and the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers played a great game last night. While they only scored 78 points, they held one of the leagues top scoring teams to only 75 points. That says something of their head coach. Frank Vogel made some great adjustments, and his team pretty much took everyone out of the game besides Wade and James. Also, they showed why they were the three seed in the East. They have quality starters, a great bench, and most importantly, they play as a team. No one on the team is selfish, no one  cares who scores or doesn’t score, all that matters is that at the end of the day, they have more points than the opponent. Frank Vogel pointed out how they play in the trenches and make the hustle plays that are necessary to win games, and it showed last night. The Pacers were the first ones to every loose ball, they defended brilliantly inside, and they showed that teamwork really does win games. All in all, if the Pacers want to win this series, this is the perfect example of how they are going to do it. Defense. And Rebounding.

But I have to come back to the Heat. There were two things that I saw after this game was over that stood out to me. First, Chris Bosh is a HUGE asset to this team. Most people said it was the big 2.5, or that Bosh had lost it after coming to this team, but after last night it is clear that they need him bad. Here are the Heat’s top scorers after James and Wade: Battier – 5 pts, Chalmers – 5 pts, Haslem – 4 pts. Pathetic. That is all there is to say. The rest of the guys on this team were simply pathetic. I am sorry, but no team can expect to win an NBA game, especially a playoff game, with their third leading scorer scoring five points. To me, this is a big testament to how big of a piece Chris Bosh really is. Besides him, they basically have no inside game. Haslem is not who he used to be. Turiaf is, well, Turiaf. And Joel Anthony has become irrelevant to this team.

Second, I saw what I have seen all season but figured it would not last into the playoffs, the terrible crunch time performance of the Miami Heat. The Heat have no idea what to do in the clutch. It used to be  give the ball to Wade, back away, and let him go to work. Now it has become, give it to Wade, and watch him either make some really bad plays, or pass the ball to someone else who can’t close. James has become irrelevant come crunch time because of his struggles at the free throw line, and after him, there really is no one else.

They will figure it out though.

In my opinion, this team is too good to just let the Pacers win this series. I feel as though Wade will finally decided to take over in the last two minutes and show the world the old Wade. The role players will hit some shots, and LeBron will do what LeBron has done for 46 minutes, dominate the game. The key is the roll players though. They have to show up. If the rest of the guys play this horrendous, there is no way the Heat win this years title. Mike Miller needs to hit threes, as do Chalmers and Jones, and the post players have to find a way to be effective. While the series is at 1-1 now, I still see the Heat winning this in 6 games, max. I have them in 5, but I am really concerned about that prediction now. Overall, I feel as though they not only will figure it out, but have to figure it out. If the Heat don’t win this years title, I could see some major changes being made to this team. Not only with the big three, but also with the coaching staff and role players. So Miami, get yourself together. Or teams like the Pacers will continue to say, “We never felt like we were the underdogs.”

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Thunder Embarrass Lakers in a Rout

Last night, the Oklahoma City Thunder put on a show. Everyone at the packed Chesapeake Energy Arena, as well as everyone watching at home, witnessed a dismantling of the Los Angles Lakers as they fell 119-90. While I did fall asleep before the game ended, I pretty much knew at half that this one was over. Many thought that the Thunder were going to come out sluggish, and maybe even be a tab bit rusty after a long rest, but they came out BLAZING! Right away, one could tell that the Thunder were here to play, unlike their counterpart, who looked as if they were struggling to get anything going. Kobe was hot early, and simmered down. Bynum was hot early, but simmered down. Ron Artest (Metta World Peace) was looking like an old man out there trying to guard the youngsters of the Thunder. Overall, it was just a terrible game for the Lakers both defensively and offensively. Which lead to this.

“Can you guard them?”

This quote, asked to Kobe Bryant after the game, pretty much summed it up. It was awesome. Kobe looked shellshocked at the question, and proceeded to leave the conference after giving a sarcastic, “No.” But was it really an offensive question? Can the Lakers guard them? After seeing this game, I don’t know if they can. Westbrook and Durant shot an incredible 18/31 or 58% and managed to score 52 points on just 56 minutes of playing time! Unbelievable. Not only that, but they managed to hold the Lakers to 90 points with their sub-par (minus Harden) bench playing significant minutes. If that wasn’t enough, they almost had 40 points in the 3rd quarter alone!!

But it is one game.

While this may seem like the start to an onslaught of a series, you have to remember that this is only game one of a seven game series. This is what is supposed to happen. Maybe not by this many points or in this fashion, but the home team, and 2 seed, is generally favored in game one and usually win that game. This does not mean that the Lakers are done though. They still have a chance. While I picked them in 6 over the Thunder, I now think that if they are going to win, it is going to have to be in 7. Their defense has to step up, the interior has to get better, and Kobe is going to have to take over games. If this can happen, along with the Thunder cooling down, I think the Lakers have a good chance to come back and win this series. But for now, everyone needs to sit back and appreciate how good this Thunder team really is. Shout out to KDTrey5 and crew for that incredible performance.

Sixers Steal Game 2 in Boston

In case you missed it, the Philadelphia 76ers just went into the Garden and upset the Boston Celtics 82-81 on 18 points from Jrue Holiday. Despite being one of the ugliest games I have seen thus far in the playoffs, the closing two or so minutes were a thriller. With the Sixers leading by four, the Celtics came back to take the lead with under a minute to play. Then the game turned in favor of the Sixers. Evan Turner makes a wild layup, Ray Allen misses a jumper, and the game is pretty much over after that. One thing that should be noted is a late offensive foul call on Kevin Garnett that pretty much gave the Celtics no chance of winning the game after that point. While that play will be looked at and talked about during this whole series, I feel as though it was the right call. Garnett clearly extended his elbows and leaned into the screen, basically holding Iguodala. Although, I will point out that I did not like seeing that call being made in that circumstance: in the playoffs, with 12 seconds left…

But enough of the recap, now for some insight.

While this might be a sign that the Sixers have a chance in this series, I still feel as though the Celtics are going to take it in 6. For such an experienced team, winning two games on the road will not be a problem. I feel as though the Celtics will take 2 out of the next 3 they play in Philly, as well as the one they play at home, and close this series out. It seemed as though the Celtics took a break tonight and didn’t really try to win this game. They were lackadaisical all night, no energy, no hustle plays being made, just an overall bad game for the Celtics. Although, everybody knows, the Sixers cannot beat them 4 out of 7 games… Still, this is not an excuse for playing so horribly.

This is why I am afraid for the Sixers in their next game. While it will be at home, the Celtics are going to BRING it. After watching tape on this performance, I’m sure every guy in that locker room will make sure they never play that way again. This is why I am predicting a seemingly large blowout. I have the Celtics by 15+ on Wednesday as they take control of the series once again.