Random Thoughts on NBA Finals Game Seven

Congratulations to RPadholic and longtime Miami Heat season ticket holder 1ceman for his team’s 2012-2013 NBA Championship. While the level of play wasn’t as high as it was in game six, the drama and excitement were fantastic. There were many times when it looked like the Heat were going to run away with the game, but the Spurs kept fighting back and it was hotly contested up until the final minute. Here are some random thoughts on the final game of this NBA season, accompanied by some original photos from 1ceman.

It’s Good to Be King: LeBron James was fantastic last night. His jumper — particularly from three-point range — was deadly, he snagged some key rebounds, and he was the amazingly efficient player we marveled at for most of the season. While some will still question where he ranks among the all-time greats, few will question him being in the conversation. (This is the part where RPadholic bsukenyan writes a passionate argument about how the LeBron vs. Jordan argument is silly.)

Robin Returns: Dwyane Wade was surprisingly efficient and grabbed some monster rebounds too. Going into the game, people suggested that coach Spoelstra bench Wade so that James would have more space to work with and the Heat offense would flow better. Looking through the retroscope, that suggestion seems ridiculous.

Battier Killed It: To me, Battier was the difference maker. He saved his best game for last, going 6-for-8 from three-point range. After being mediocre or worse in the previous six games, Battier repeatedly stabbed daggers into the Spurs’ hearts. (I’m speaking metaphorically. Actual stabbings with actual daggers would have resulted in an arrest.)

Have You Seen These Boys?: For the second straight game, Danny Green and Gary Neal were awful. The pair shot a combined 3-for-19, going 2-for-9 on three-pointers. Given Tony Parker’s bad hamstring, the Spurs desperately needed a great performance from at least one of these players. Instead, they both delivered stinkers.

Scapegoats: The Twitterverse was all over Manu Ginobili in the fourth quarter, but the balding Argentinean had a very solid game until making some bad decisions at the very end. His final numbers were 18 points on 6-for-12 shooting, five assists, and three boards. Parker wasn’t very good, shooting 3-for-12 and dishing out four assists — poor numbers for a player some consider the best point guard in the league. In his defense, he has a bad wheel. Still, I wonder why he often gets a pass from sports journalists. Perhaps it’s his adorably squeaky voice…but that shouldn’t cancel out the negatives of him being French and sleeping with people’s wives. Oui? Non?

Leonard Part 6: It was fun watching Kawhi Leonard become a star on national television. The 21-year old appears to have a bright future. His defense and rebounding were great throughout the series, and his offense became a bigger and bigger part of the Spurs’ attack. I liked how coach Popovich had him bring up the ball every now and again in the first half. Part of it was out of necessity due to Parker’s bad leg, but part of it was a clever way to mix up looks. Instead of Parker and Ginobili bringing up the ball, it was surprising to see Leonard occasionally lead the attack. The Spurs should have a future all-star in Leonard. To borrow a phrase from Ghostbusters, he’s got the tools and he’s got the tallent. (This is the part where you say, “It’s Miller time!”)

Happy Gregg Popovich: Pop is generally regarded as a curmudgeon (though I personally think he’s deceptively hilarious) and a fierce competitor, so it was strange seeing him flash a genuine smile after his team lost the game. He looked happy to be part of a great series and warmly congratulated the Heat. I almost spit out my Coke Zero when I saw him give Dwyane Wade a kiss on the cheek.

The Future: It’s going to be interesting to watch how both teams do next year. The Eastern Conference was pretty terrible this year, but the Indiana Pacers are getting scary and Derek Rose will be back with the Chicago Bulls. Both teams gave the Heat hell in the playoffs. The Pacers were without Hermione Danny Granger; he could return in a key role or be traded for a complementary player that fits better. It’s amazing that the Bulls were able to push the Heat, given Rose’s absence and other injuries. If the Bulls could challenge the Heat with effort, moxie, and great coaching, imagine what they’ll be able to do with Rose in the mix? While James will still be at the height of his powers, Wade’s banged up body will be another year older, Bosh’s RuPaul act is getting better (not a good thing), Battier should be done (dude tortured himself guarding power forwards most of the season), and Chalmers…will hopefully get hit by a car (in a non-lethal way).

The Spurs were old going into the playoffs. For most of the season, Ginobili looked like a player that should retire. The good news is that Leonard appears ready to take Manu’s place among the Spurs’ “big three” and Parker should be great once his leg heals up. Duncan has been written off before, but always seems to put together a season that makes his critics look silly. The bad news is that a healthy Oklahoma City Thunder team should beat them and there are a number of teams that should get better through free agency. Dwight Howard going to the Los Angeles Clippers or Houston Rockets would change the landscape of the Western Conference dramatically.

Your Take: Now it’s your turn! Kindly share your thoughts on game seven of the NBA Finals, as well as where the Heat and Spurs go from here.

[nggallery id=137]

Author: RPadTV

http://www.RPad.TV

8 thoughts on “Random Thoughts on NBA Finals Game Seven”

  1. I thought Chalmers was the difference. You can’t beat Miami if that guy is scoring 20 points. It’s Mario f’n Chalmers for christ sake. Not to mention that 3 pointer at the end of the 3rd was just a sign that things were going their way no matter what.

    Enjoy it Heat. Next year you may not make it to the conference finals. I think the Spurs may not make it either for what it’s worth. They’ll make it further than my beloved Pelicans but not much further since Westbrook will be back and Houston will presumably be better. Who knows where CP3 lands? (I dream of him returning to NOLA to play with Davis and Rivers as we trade Gordon back to the Clippers)

    1. If it makes you feel any better, David Stern was booed by the arena when he started talking on the microphone to present the trophy.

      I was almost embarrassed for the people that were representing my city, but then I realized that he probably would have gotten booed (or worse) in 9 out of 10 NBA arenas.

      -M

      1. I think Stern eats that stuff up. If I was him I’d do the Vince McMahon walk to the podium or stage.

        Stern > Goodell

  2. I think you shouldn’t count out the Spurs against OKC. They were a much better team this year than last year. They knew each other better this year, particularly because of their improved defense.

    Besides, you also have to consider that OKC lost Harden (you can’t call Kevin Martin a “replacement”), so they’re not necessarily the same team either. I think that even if Westbrook wasn’t injured, the Spurs still would’ve beaten the Thunder.

    1. As a Harden mark, I completely agree with you about Kevin Martin. That said, I don’t know that the Spurs beat a healthy OKC team this year. Durant and Westbrook are getting better — though you never know how the latter will respond to his first major injury — while the Spurs are getting older. To me, Leonard is the wildcard. There’s a chance that he could be a special player and help compensate for Duncan/Parker getting a year older, as well as Ginobili possibly retiring. The kid averaged a double-double in the finals while guarding LeBron for several games. That’s crazy impressive for a 21-year old.

  3. Wow! I’m exhausted. I got home at 2:00 a.m. and then left Sportscenter on until my eyelids said “screw you.”

    James, Wade, Battier and Chalmers were game 7’s collective MVPs. Both their defense and offense won the game. It’s funny when a reporter asked Battier (post-game) about his “Mike Miller” moment, referring to Miller’s game-winning performance during the last game of last year’s finals.

    Missing In Action: Bosh, Allen, Miller. These guys were ice cold flat all night long to the point where it really bothered me. I’m glad Spoelstra had the good sense to not use them too much and go with the hot players (mostly). I think Bosh’s problem with the Heat overall is that they play him out of position. That said, I wouldn’t mind trading him while his stock is high. I think the Heat need someone better at the psydo-center/forward position they tend to wedge Bosh in. I kind of felt bad for the guy, he couldn’t guard Duncan for shit. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s a great guy and all, but he just doesn’t seem like he fits in all that great with Spoelstra’s schemes. Would it be too much to ask if we can trade Bosh and a draft pick for Chris Paul, maybe?

    Speaking of feeling bad, the Spurs are a pretty classy team. After the hooligans in Chicago and some of the a-holes from the Pacers, it’s nice to play a team that doesn’t stoop to the lowest common denominator. Pop runs a tight ship and they should get credit for the international powerhouse team they’ve developed in San Antonio.

    The whole city is going nuts. I’ve never seen people this collectively happy since Castro stepped down. Now I need to save up some money to buy all of the championship gear and memorabilia. The hat and the shirt are going to set me back $90 alone! Luckily, I can ask for most of this crap for my birthday.

    I’m honestly not worried about next year. Even if we just make it to the playoffs, it will be considered a victory (to me). Back-to-back, three-time champions is enough to enjoy for a long time. LeBron has proven himself beyond any shadow of a doubt. Wade will go down as my favorite player in Heat history and Pat Riley is truly a gift from the basketball gods.

    I’m going to enjoy this moment and for a brief period of time, I will completely forget that Miami has a baseball team.

    -M

    (By the way, what do I have to do to join the Google group? I need to rub this in to as many people as possible before football season starts.)

    1. You just need a Google+ account, which is simple to activate if you have a Gmail account. Once you do, just let me or any regular RPadholics know and you’ll be added to the group. You can follow the conversation on PC through Google+ or Gmail, as well as on mobile devices using the Hangouts app for Android and iOS.

      Thanks again for all the sweet photos you sent!

  4. I think Chris Anderson’s points just might have been the biggest difference maker in that game…I kid I kid, lol. It is amazing that only 5 players on the Heat scored last night during the game (I’m sure it was 100% of the team afterwards), Anderson being one of them and only getting one basket.

    I also think the Spurs played an excellent series, and it will be a little disappointing to have to go back to watching teams play each other in the regular season without the mutual respect that the Heat and Spurs had. Speaking of which, I’m not sure the last time there has been a playoffs series without a technical or flagrant foul from either team (Ginobli got lucky that his elbow to James’s face wasn’t called, but that was the closest thing I saw to a flagrant). Both teams made this a fun and exciting series to watch all the way through.

    The future of both teams are going to be interesting to watch. The Spurs will still be top contenders next year, but it will be a much different landscape come playoff time for sure. While I’m confident that the younger players on the Spurs will be great assets, I’m curious to see what will happen after Duncan, especially since the Spurs have had two back to back spectacular eras from The Admiral straight into the Duncan era…who can step up and take that spot on the team?

    The Heat will have to battle off constant criticism that the big three should break up, but I don’t see that happening. Even if it did, my opinion on which player they should trade away is probably the 1% of nba fans (hint: I don’t necessarily think Bosh is the player to trade away). The bigger questions in my mind though are the three point shooters. Mike Miller is constantly in back pain, and while he is a great role player, it’s definitely going to be sooner rather than later that he has to step away from the game or simply become irrelevant. There were rumors during the season that Shane Battier was thinking about retirement, especially if they won another championship this year. There have also been rumors of Ray Allen opting out of the second year of his contract with the Heat so he can return to Boston in order to retire as a Celtic

    Of course all three of these situations are huge what-if’s, but unlike Marvel’s take on what-if’s, these scenarios are still possible, meaning that the front office has to weigh all of these scenarios heavily. If all three of these players left simultaneously, or even if it was just Allen, that would cause a big gap in scoring that the Heat would need to fill, in addition to contemplating gaining some size in the center position. Now I know what you’re thinking, the Heat play small ball so they have no need for a big center. Wrong. As Ray mentioned above, the Bulls and the Pacers gave the Heat hell making both series longer than most fans expected. Having a reliable big man on the team would greatly help out for teams like that who will definitely be targeting the Heat again all regular season and playoff season long. Will any of this happen though? Probably not. The big three aren’t going to be traded away either. They came to Miami to play together and try to win together, but I think playing together is still a huge factor and they won’t walk away from that right now.

    Now, for the part that everyone is waiting for…I do think that most arguments comparing or contrasting Jordan vs. James are pretty pointless. For starters, we are judging only a portion of Lebron’s legacy against the whole of Jordan’s career. That is just a recipe for disaster right there. Second, if you watch even just five minutes of Lebron’s gameplay and five minutes of Jordan’s gameplay then you will see that they play completely different styles of basketball which can’t really be compared to easily. Sure if you want to I suppose you could, but I haven’t seen any comparison based on anything more than a stat line, which doesn’t cut it. Third, Jordan has become this part of basketball mythology which seems to leave people’s memories a little hazy. We aren’t done criticizing James’s playing from game 5 in this past finals, but no one seems to remember Jordan doing anything wrong on the court ever. Colin Cowherd had a great rant about this a couple days ago, the day after game 6 I believe, where he talked about James playing in the possession by possession era and other basketball greats didn’t. People judged Magic, or Byrd, or Kareem by a series. We can’t even get through a single quarter of basketball without talking heads lighting up Lebron for specific possessions. So it should come as no surprise when we are constantly talking about Lebron’s flaws and ignoring Jordan’s that people’s opinions of Jordan would be elevated…but that doesn’t make it a valid argument. It would be foolish to say that Lebron is the greatest player to have ever played the game, he is only 28 years old, and pretty much just getting into the prime of his career. Let’s see what else he accomplishes before we start setting things in stone. However, I absolutely believe that Lebron is well on his way to becoming the greatest player to play the game of basketball. Whether people want to admit it or not is completely up to them. Then again I see and hear enough people who won’t even admit that he is the best player in the game right now, so I personally just get tired of all the arguing about it all the time because to some people the myth of Michael Jordan is just too great for people to realize that he is just human, and his records and accomplishments are attainable by other players. He is not the end all and be all of basketball (of course try telling that to someone from Chicago, they still can’t stop talking about the ’85 Bears). I don’t expect this debate to wrap up anytime within the next 25 years, but personally I still haven’t seen any argument that convinces me that the opinion of the masses is correct.

    Also, in finishing, Jordan gained mass appeal as an icon and an image (which is the only thing he has done which cannot be beaten by someone else), whereas the masses of people who don’t really follow the sport recently still see James as a villain. This is one reason I believe the idea that Jordan is the unattainable standard in basketball, and that Lebron can never come close to being as good as him, will most likely always persist. People still like to like Jordan and like to hate James, and no amount of logic or rational discussion will change the casual viewer’s opinion on those matters.

Comments are closed.