First, before I start in on the Heat/Celtics Eastern Conference Finals, how about these NBA playoffs? Just amazing drama and performances up and down the league. It's been incredible to watch.
Starting with Derrick Rose tearing his ACL in the Bulls/76ers series, then his team fighting back and taking the Sixers 7 games. The Nuggets took the Lakers 7 games in the West, another compelling series that could have gone either way. Then in the second round... The Sixers and Celtics went 7 games, the Pacers led the Heat 2-1, and the Lakers/Thunder series was closely contested (even if the Thunder won in 5.. those games were tough and hard fought.
Then, looking the Conference finals...both were compelling, but the Heat/Celtics was clearly the better series. OKC took a punch from the Spurs losing the first 2 games, and then won 4 games in a row.
This Heat/Celtics match up was epic. Miami winning two at home, followed by Boston winning two at home (2 of those games going to overtime). Boston beating the Heat in Miami in game 5, to go ahead 3-2 and returning home for game 6. At that time, LeBron couldn't close...Spoelstra couldn't coach, Dwayne Wade wasn't playing great. And they have to play in Boston, facing a team with oodles of confidence, who won 3 in a row.
Then, the LeBron James game happened. He was amazing in game 6. He was that "force of nature" we saw against the Pistons those years ago. Unbelievable performance.
Which set up game 7 tonight. I actually was surprised at the start of the game. Boston took the early lead, and kept it for pretty much the entire first half. I even tweeted that Miami "had to close within 5 by half, or the Celtics win". They didn't. They were down 7 at the break. And yet, they found a way to win, actually running away in the final few minutes. With that, I have 3 thoughts on game 7.
1. Chris Bosh was HUGE tonight. He was an amazing. He hit 3 3 pointers, but more important than that was his defense and rebounding. Remember earlier in the series when the Celtics were getting numerous offensive rebounds in crunch time? With Haslem and Bosh on the court, the amount of 2nd shot opportunities for the Celtics simply weren't there. On a few occasions, KG looked like he was in position to grab the board, but Bosh would slide over and snag it away. It happened several times. Chris Bosh came up big tonight, and proved that it really is a Big 3, not a Big 2.
2. Rajon Rondo is an enigma. In game 2 he goes off for 44 points. He had 10 assists at halftime tonight. He flirts with a triple double nearly every time he steps on the floor. That said, his turnovers in Game 6 were a huge reason why the Heat were able to blow the Celtics out in that game. And tonight, Game 7, NBA Finals on the line... Dwayne Wade was playing 5 feet off him in crunch time. There is no other "star" in this league who would be given this much space. And I don't think you can be considered with the best players in the league when you're at the top of the key, and your man is standing on or slightly below the free throw line. Don't get me wrong, he is an extremely talented player, and I'm not here trying to rip on his game, I just don't think you can be considered "elite" if the other team lays off you in crunch time.
3. Eric Spoelstra can coach. He was ripped on in the Indiana series, when they fell behind 2 games to 1. Then the Heat ripped off 3 games in a row. In this series, when they fell behind 3-2, I was reading things like "Spoelstra is in over his head". Tons of credit were being thrown in the direction of Doc Rivers, and rightfully so, but you do realize he won 2 games with Rony Turiaf starting at center and playing significant minutes? Then, he tried Joel Anthony, and he did what Joel Anthony does...mostly play a little D and stand around on offense. When they got Chris Bosh back, they looked like a different team out there. I'd really like to see the guy get some credit. He got the Heat to the finals last year, in the first season of the "Big 3", and now he's returned. You try and manage a team with that many egos, and the outlandish expectations of everyone in the media. If the Heat lost this series, the cries for his firing would have been deafening. And it would have happened. However, they made the finals again. Give Coach Spo his due, he deserves it.
Really looking forward to the Heat/Thunder finals. The two young "Big 3's" get to face off Durant-Westbrook-Harden vs James-Wade-Bosh. It's all set up to be a "good vs evil" finals. The team from the small market, with the young home grown stars (the Thunder drafted each of those 3 in consecutive seasons), going against the evil, plotting, free agent signing Heat. Really should be fun to watch. Two teams with tons of athleticism and neither team is afraid to mix it up on the defensive end. Can't wait to see how many fouls Kendrick Perkins disagrees with (all of them). Can't wait to see how many "did you just see that shots" that Kevin Durant hits. Looking forward to see LeBron leading the break, all 6'9" and 250 pounds of him (seriously, how scary would that be to see coming at you with a head of steam).
NBA Action, It's Fantastic!