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.
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.
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.
Beyond his work for KnickerBlogger, Jim is a contributor to the New York Times Off the Dribble NBA blog, ESPN.com, and The Classical. He is currently working on a biography of Robert Silverman, titled "Clownin' and Astoundin.'" Follow him on Twitter @JPCavan.