Flashback! In Game 2 of the 2011 NBA Finals, Dallas broke their offensive set and Erik Spoelesta had Chris Bosh match up on what was later to become the Finals MVP. The Mavericks ran isolation for Dirk Nowitzki, who spun left and iced the game for the Mavericks to bring the series back to Dallas tied at one game apiece.
Fast forward to Thursday night. Kevin Durant caught the ball on the left wing and this time it wasn't Shane Battier, Chris Bosh or any other role player guarding him. It was the league’s best player who had him in check, and lo and behold, LeBron James was able to force Durant into a tough baseline floater off the baseline (even though he did foul him with no call).
Last year James wilted under the pressure of the Finals. Whether he ran out of gas from playing too many minutes, or just the pressure of the big stage got to him,LeBron's no show was one of the most compelling stories of the season. Thus far in 2012, however, he's flipped the script completely. He put himself on Durant, he nailed a 16-ft jumper with 1:26 to go, and he iced the game with the final free throws. The question very simply is whether can he continue to play at such a breakneck pace (851 minutes played in the postseason thus far) for at least five more games.
OKC's rotation and the pick-and-roll
The consensus this morning is that one adjustment Scott Brooks should consider is moving James Harden into the starting rotation. Without question OKC has gotten off to slow starts in Games 1 and 2, but making drastic alterations to your starting rotation that would leave no real punch coming off the bench as the series shifts to Miami might be a bit of an over-correction.
Yes, Derek Fisher still has some juice left in the tank, however maybe Brook rode him a bit too much in Game 2. He finished the game with a +13 in 24 minutes, 2 steals, and did keep the floor spread, nevertheless he threw up a donut from beyond the arc, and isn't the defender Thabo Sefolosha is on the perimeter at this point of career. Injecting Harden into the starting rotation won't solve the problem that's ailing the Thunder in the first half; that unfortunately is more X's and O's.
The Heat, namely Mario Chalmers and Shane Battier (who is easily having the best series of his career thus far), have done a very good job of limiting the Thunder's ability to get out on the break and run. This, among other things, has led to what is essentially a stagnant offense in the first half.
OKC loves to run their staggered pick-and-roll with their bigs and Westrbook/Durant/Harden. The problem is that Miami has the athletes and defensive savvy to keep the most of the action in front of them. One set Brooks and OKC have gotten away from is using Durant as the roll/pop man with Westbrook from up high, making it tough for Miami to double either player. Running to the other wing, whether it be with Harden, Fisher, Thabo etc. and keeping space on the block with OKC's bigs could be a little wrinkle that might be able to get Durant and the Thunder going a bit earlier.
The not-so-soft Chris Bosh, and Hustle Stats
Perhaps soft shouldn't be an adjective that we writers use to describe Chris Bosh anymore. In Game 1, Miami was killed in the hustle stat category. In Game 2 behind Bosh, not so much. Miami grabbed 11 offensive rebounds (including Bosh's 7), had 48 points in the paint (including Bosh's 10), 17 points of turnovers, and 10 fast break points.
The Thunder picked more pockets and blocked more shots than the Heat in Game 2, yet they failed to convert many of those opportunities. Bosh went for 16-15, 2 blocks and a +11. Yes, Wade got going in the first half and LeBron did what we are growing accustomed to seeing LeBron do in this postseason (32-8-5, and getting the line 12 times), but with the reemergence of Bosh in the frontcourt, Miami looks to be an altogether different animal.
Fan Hub Action
Jeanne-Marie Jansen Lowell May 23rd
Greatest relief pitcher EVER! Someday we can all tell our grandchildren we got to see him pitch. A true legend!
Charlie Lobosco May 23rd
Ask Craig; I’ll say it again; not the best relief pitcher ever; the best MLB player ever. Yes, that includes everyone.
Jim Lowell May 23rd
Great tribute to a great player, a great Yankee, and a great man.Thank you!
Frank Lowell May 23rd
Great job, Ryan! As a life-long Yankee hater since the 1950’s in the closing days of the Brooklyn Dodgers, I can only sit back and…
Tiffany Riddle May 23rd
Love the article, and I completely agree!
Michael T Carr May 16th
Another good article, Craig Lowell.
Charlie Lobosco May 1st
This is a very compelling story because Mr. Collins is a very passionate, tough, intelligent, athelete taking on some additional responsibliity to help others as…
Scott Cohen May 1st
Charlie.. very well said.. he does have guts
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