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Thursday, July 31, 2014

NYT Finals / Knicks stuff

In the absence of any hard-hitting Knicks news, we’re going to do our best to post some Finals stuff over the course of the next few weeks (assuming it lasts that long), along with our report cards, which should continue rolling out at a steady clip. Consider thee your forums for comments on the Finals, summer salad recipes, or whatever.

Over at the Times, I discussed how Bosh and Battier’s shooting — and going small in general — could give the Heat their best shot of upsetting the Thunder:

During last summer’s lockout, Miami Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra returned to his native Pacific Northwest and, from the sidelines of a University of Oregon summer football practice, found basketball inspiration. As he watched the Ducks cut and fly about the field, their mad scientist coach – Chip Kelly – orchestrating a gridiron alchemy that helped put the struggling program back into the national spotlight, Spoelstra forged in his mind a template for what the Heat could be: fast, quick, devastating, and – perhaps most important – built around precise spacing and the peerless penetrating abilities of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

The key to this new philosophy would be the spot-up shooting abilities of the Heat role players, specifically Mike Miller, James Jones, Mario Chalmers, and the newly acquired Shane Battier. And the team’s return to the N.B.A. finals is the best opportunity yet to see Spoelstra’s summer vision in action.

So, that thing about no hard-hitting Knicks analysis? I lied. Keith Scholsser, founder of KnicksJournal.com, explores the possibility of bring aboard — gasp! — Ray Allen this summer:

Following their Eastern Conference finals loss to the Heat, the Celtics are already facing questions regarding what they’ll do next.

With Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen both set to enter the free agent market next month, Boston’s Big Three stand to be disbanded. It could very well mark the end of an era.

While all three were at the top of their games, Garnett, Allen and resident Celtics star Paul Pierce joined forces in 2007 for a run at multiple titles. With Garnett now 36 and Allen about to turn 37, neither will leave Boston to become the center of attention elsewhere. Instead, at this point in their careers, it’s about finding the right fit.

EDIT:

Also Mike Kurylo talks about the key elements of the Thunder/Heat series:

If there is one area that this series might hinge on, it’s whether or not the Thunder can hold onto the ball. Oklahoma City led the league with 1,079 turnovers. Russell Westbrook and Durant are the main culprits because they handle the ball so often, but Kendrick Perkins leads the team with a turnover percentage of 27.5. Perkins coughs up the ball 2.4 times for every 36 minutes, a reasonable amount until you consider he averages only 5.4 shots in that time. Players who handle the ball that infrequently should have miniscule turnover numbers. The Heat forced 1,107 turnovers, good enough for third best. Hence, the Thunder’s main offensive weakness feeds into Miami’s defensive strength.

14 comments on “NYT Finals / Knicks stuff

  1. 2FOR18

    I’m predicting the Heat take it. I think the one thing that can hurt them on defense is a big low post presence, and that’s one thing OKC doesn’t have. Even old Garnett gave them fits.
    And we all know how the Heat take advantage of turnovers, as pointed out above.
    I think we’ll see a lot of Joel Anthony to help out with the Westbrook/Harden penetration.
    I also think OKC is just a bit too young for this. Durant and Harden are ready, but I’m not convinced Westbrook and Ibaka are yet. Whereas the Heat have been playing under an insane spotlight for 2 years and have the experience of being there last season.

    OKC does have a huge edge at the FT line and does have a big home court advantage.

    I can’t wait to see this.

  2. Kevin McElroy

    I think OKC needs Perk to keep Bron and Wade from getting to rim at will. Unfortunately, I don’t think he can guard Bosh and I don’t think OKC’s offense is good enough to score with MIA if Perk is on the floor. At some point both coaches will realize that their best bet is to go small, and I just don’t think anyone goes small as well as the Heat. I also think OKC will be forced to cross-match to keep durant semi-fresh/out of foul trouble, whereas LeBron is an indefatigable cyborg from another galaxy who can probably chase KD around screens for 40 minutes a night and still put up an efficient 32/11/6. OKC’s home-court and the 2-3-2 format do worry me a bit, but I just think Miami is better and can’t imagine them getting this close without coughing it up. My prediction is that Miami steals tonight’s game, gets 2 out of 3 in Miami, and then closes it out in OKC (in either 6 or 7 — I’ll say 6).

  3. Z-man

    I predict OKC in 6. Yes, LeBron is other-worldly but OKC is very deep, well-balanced team. They have two good defensive big men in Ibaka and Perkins. Durant is a less arrogant Reggie Miller at 6’11″. Westbrook vs. Chalmers? Please. Harden off the bench vs. who, Miller? Cole?

    The Heat had a cakewalk to the finals in terms of the quality of opposition. The Celts took them to 7 games with an ancient, slow, small team. The Thunder absolutely spanked the Spurs (who would have destroyed the Celts) once they figured them out.

    I dunno, maybe LeBron goes for 45-15-5 every night and Wade plays like he did on his title team, but on paper it doesn’t look even close.

  4. Z-man

    PS I absolutely HATE the 2-3-2 format. It makes it so that in any kind of an evenly-matched series, the team with the 3 games has virtually no chance of winning the series at home. Why should a team that won its conference, possibly over better competition, have to win in 5 in order to have a chance to win at home? Never got that, never will.

  5. johnlocke

    In terms of hype definitely…. hopefully it lives up to it.

    I think it comes down to the play of Westbrooke. He needs to play stifling defense, get steals, attack the basket and not settle for jumpers, while giving up the ball to Durant in the 4th.

    I think LeBron will have a HUGE series, not sure it will be enough though. OKC in 7.

    ruruland:
    Best Finals match-up since Lakers Celtics?

  6. ruruland

    I’m not talkking ’08 Lakers Celtics of course.

    When is the last time you had 7 of the top 25-30 players in the Finals, none with a ring, all of whom still either approaching their prime and all still in their physical primes (with Wade nearing the end of his physical prime) .

    When is the last time you had the two best players in the NBA facing each other in the Finals? Had to be Bird/Magic.

    We agree that Durant is clearly the second best player in the league?

  7. ruruland

    johnlocke:
    In terms of hype definitely…. hopefully it lives up to it.

    I think it comes down to the play of Westbrooke. He needs to play stifling defense, get steals, attack the basket and not settle for jumpers, while giving up the ball to Durant in the 4th.

    I think LeBron will have a HUGE series, not sure it will be enough though. OKC in 7.

    I don’t think you have to worry about hype. This is arguably the greatest collection of athletes in a competitive format in the history of sports.

    I think when we put this into historical terms, it has a chance to be the greatest match-up of all time. Remember, by the time the Lakers and Celtics faced each other in ’84, The Celtics core had one ring, the Lakers core had two.

  8. ruruland

    Shaq /Hakeem was probably last time you had two of the best 3 players against each other in the Finals. Talent still doesn’t compare to this series.

  9. johnlocke

    post in the game 1 thread… we can have the debate there, just so everyone can chime in.

    ruruland:
    Shaq /Hakeem was probably last time you had two of the best 3 players against each other in the Finals. Talent still doesn’t compare to this series.

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