All you need to do is WIN WIN WIN no matter what! [NBA FINALS GAME 7 PREVIEW]

Champions Collide in Game 7

Champions Collide in Game 7

So we’ve come to the very end of the road for the 2013 NBA Finals. Down to one game to decide who’s the better team, the aging San Antonio Spurs led by 36 year old PF Tim Duncan and Coach Gregg Popovich or the Miami Heat led by defending MVP PF LeBron James and Coach Eric Spoelstra.

As much nail biting and anguish as I’ve gone through so far, now that I think of it, I can’t really ask for much more than this. There has been plenty of excitement, overtime games (like last night!), coming back from double digit deficits in the 4th quarter(Spurs, Heat, Warriors), Cinderella stories (Warriors, Nuggets, Chicago, Rockets), and tons of action and captivating moments from any number of NBA All-Stars. Now that everything is just about finished, we’ve got one more game left to preview.

Tomorrow night, Thursday June 20th, 2013 at around 8:30 pm EST, the Heat face the Spurs in a one game winner-take-all death match, at home in Miami, for all the marbles.

I don’t want to hear anything about who’s getting old, or who can’t make big time shots, who’s favored to win by how much, none of that matters anymore. Any team that takes another team to 7 games in the NBA Finals has played their hearts out and should be considered a great team in my book. That being said, only one team is going home with the crown.

Who’s it going to be?

-Keys to Miami Winning the Game:

1. Aggressive, intelligent, gambling, trapping, suffocating defense. This team is younger in age nearly across the board than the Spurs, who are also quite good defensively. The major difference is the athleticism and youth to be able to take shots at knocking balls loose, doubling players in the corners and still being able to get back to interior defense to force the ball back outside.

Too many times this series Miami has been forced into a react-only mode, allowing the extremely intelligent and veteran Spurs to have their pick of who to take the shot at any given moment. They will need to play stifling defense, making blocks here and there and getting offensive rebounds regardless of playing without a true center. Chris ‘Birdman’ Andersen and CB3 will have to focus and bring their A game to fight for every rebound.

2. The King must show the Spurs what they get for attempting to defend him. LeBron James is not just another NBA Superstar. He is not an aging Tim Duncan or even a Tony Parker, meaning he is SUPPOSED to get 25-7-7 a game. That’s nothing out of the ordinary. With Wade being slowed by a knee injury and Bosh being well Bosh at times, the game will swing on his ability to get his teammates open looks, driving through traffic to make tough baskets with touch, and drawing fouls while doing so.

I couldn’t say it more clearly than this:

LeBron James is not Magic Johnson. His entire team plays better when he’s attacking the defense, drawing triple coverage on one side of the basket while making astute, non-lazy passes to the open shooter whether it’s Mike Miller, Ray Allen, or one of the other Big 3. If he starts off as slowly as he has over the past couple games, if he can’t be decisive and quick to allow open looks, he will have to rely on his supernatural ability to make his own shots and put the team on his back. It’s time.

Now all you have to do is win.

3. Cover those Amazing Bench Players! Not enough can be said about those Spurs shooters coming off the bench to give their aging “Big 3” a rest and support. Danny Green and Gary Neal have been playing light’s out throughout this series. There have been times during this series when they were either open or barely covered, and they made Miami pay big time at the end of quarters, on buzzer-beating shots, on way downtown threes and desperation shots. Miami must force them to put the ball on the floor to at least give them something to think about. If they are open or even allowed to make lightly contested jump shots immediately after getting passes, this game will be much more difficult to win.

4. Play like every game might be your last. Tomorrow really will be the last game of the year for both teams win or lose, but this has been a troubling portent of disaster throughout this series, and even back into last series against the Indiana Pacers. Just because you won one game does not mean you can rest on your laurels and play the next one at a leisurely pace.

This kind of thinking led to Miami being defeated by the Dallas Mavericks in year one of the Big 3 Era. They were comforted and secure after leading the Mavericks 2 games to 1, let their foot off the gas pedal, and ended up losing 3 straight games to close out the season. The reason they managed to eliminate the Oklahoma City Thunder last year in 5 games comes down to their ability to shut out distractions, focus on what needs to be done on the court, and trust in their teammates and their own abilities without rest or break.

100% Focus.

No Twitter feeds, no Facebook messages, pokes, or likes, no charity golf tournament or youth basketball league. Not even phone calls or text messages from their girlfriends, wives and family (outside of emergency calls), were allowed, a self-imposed restriction for reasons of (DUH!), WINNING A CHAMPIONSHIP!

There are no more second chances to be given, no mulligans or do-overs for whichever team loses in game 7. Miami is more than capable of taking the Spurs down big time tomorrow night, but it’s going to take everyone playing through pain and suffering for the Big 3 to successfully defend their crown.

~Michael

Wong_83@Hotmail.com

LBJ Dunks on Spurs

[PS: Ok, maybe their championship last year had a little to do with LeBron taking less 3 point shots, working on his inside game with Hakeem Olajuwon in the off season, learning to use his body to shield shots, posting up and playing fundamental “big” basketball. It just didn’t fit with where my flow of thoughts were going a little earlier, so meh, just deal with it. -Mikey]

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Out For the Season: That’s So Amar’e!

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Dear Knicks Fans,

Pardon me but why have you NOT sent this man packing already? Amar’e Stoudemire is in my opinion one of the most overrated and overpaid players in the NBA. He disappears from games when the Knicks need him the most, he’s immature and often throws tantrums when things don’t go his way, and most importantly HE’S INJURY PRONE!!! I’d put more exclamation marks after injury prone but I think everyone already gets my point.

Let me give you a few examples.

I’ve been watching Amar’e play in the league since way back when; I’m talking years ago when he and Steve Nash formed one of the most dangerous duos in the NBA under the offensive guidance of head coach Mike D’Antoni. He became known for his chronic knee problems, among other things that have kept him from playing a full season since.

That’s not completely fair. For the record, here is a list of seasons which resulted in an injury, games missed, and resulting surgery:

2003 – Sprained Left Ankle (27 games missed)

2004 – Inflamed Ankle (2 games missed)

2005 – BOTH Knees Injured (microfracture surgery on left, arthroscopic surgery on right. ALL but 3 games missed)

2007 – Sore Right Knee (3 games missed)

2008 – Partially Torn Iris, Detached Retina (eye surgery, protective goggles. 29 games missed)

2010 – Sprained Right Big Toe, Sprained Left Ankle (combined 4 games missed)

2011 – Bulging Disc, Self-Inflicted Cut (latter sustained during playoffs)

2012 – Left Knee Injury (first 30 games missed), Right Knee Debridement (possibly out 6-8 weeks)

This doesn’t mean this man isn’t a total warrior and competitor. I can’t begin to imagine playing through all the pain and injury this man has, especially while performing at such a high level. His career average of nearly 21 points per game, nearly 8 rebounds and 2 blocks looks even more impressive considering how often he’s been out. That doesn’t change the fact that you can’t help your team if you can’t stay on the court.

Bottom line, Stoudemire has only played start to finish in 3 out of 11 seasons in the NBA. 2 other seasons he only missed a couple of games but that only makes it 5 out of 11 seasons, or a 55% chance he there for a significant amount of time. Wonderful.

Now that he’s 30 years old, all those surgeries and all that cartilage and tissue removed from both his knees is going to start catching up with him. No longer is he dependable as a major cog in New York’s offense. Tyson Chandler, Raymond Felton and a number of other less important (and much, much less expensive) options are playing better basketball around him. All of this adds up to less playing time, and eventually a high probability of Stoudemire getting traded to some other team. So why does this mean so much to me that I’d even take time out of my busy schedule to write an article about him?

First of all, let’s make this abundantly clear. I am NOT a New York Knicks fan. I do not want them to do well, I do not want them to win a championship, and I don’t even want them competitive in the East.

I am first and foremost a Miami Heat fan, and have been since right around the time that Dwayne Wade got drafted out of Marquette. I liked them even more when they won a championship with Shaquille O’Neal, and when they somehow juggled numbers so that they could bring in Chris Bosh and Lebron James, well that was just icing on the cake. I have no emotional attachment to anything that happens north of the Maryland/Virginia area in terms of professional basketball, and therefore shouldn’t care less about Amar’e’s career.

And yet I do. When he’s on his game, he’s one of the best in the NBA. When he’s not hurt, his shooting percentage, scoring, rebounds and blocks per game all consistently rank in the top 10. He makes the game look so easy at times, ever since he started playing basketball at the ripe old age of 14. He won more awards and did more in 2 years of high school than kids who have played and studied the game their entire lives.

Perhaps that’s why he has appeared immature and sullen at times, at heart he’s still a child.  struggling to learn how to act and live without ever really having a strong male role model. I don’t know if I believe in all that “psycho-babble,” but yet it still rings true in at least this one case. It doesn’t excuse him for his irrational temper tantrums, such as when he busted up his hand against the fire extinguisher case after a playoff loss to Miami last season, but it does help fans such as myself to understand the reasoning.

Otherwise, he’s just another overpaid, selfish, conceited, self-absorbed professional ball player. I’m hoping that’s not the case for his team, the fans, and most importantly his sake. The road to an NBA Championship goes through Miami. They’re going to need him to accomplish that.

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