First I would like to apologise for an apparent lack of coverage on my part of the NBA Finals, which have lived up to the billing of a great series. We have had comebacks, bad referee decisions and questionable coaching along the way. Miami lead 3-1 at this stage, in a series that could so easily have been 3-1 OKC.
|Playing in a league of his own.|
LeBron has played out of this world. He is averaging close to 30/10/5 for the finals and has continued his postseason brilliance onto the biggest stage of them all. He has been the one constant of the big 3, not to undermine their work, but without this super human effort the Heat would stand no chance. He has been a hound in the low-block offensively, getting offensive rebounds for easy put-backs and second chance attempts on countless occasions, passing out of the double team to the open man and picking up Durant on defense when needed.
|Mario shows Harden how to jump.|
Outside of LeBron and his normal running mates, Wade and Bosh, the Heat have had massive contributions from Chalmers and more so Battier. Battier has been huge, seemingly unable to miss on any 3point shot he has attempted in the first 4 games, which has stretch this OKC defense out onto the perimeter much more than it would have liked to be. Ibaka has suffered the most has his shotblocking and protection of the rim has not been as prominent as hoped as he has to stay close to Battier (while playing PF), which in turn allows for easier drives to the basket for LeBron/Wade and co.
Chalmers really stepped up big in Game 4, coming through in the clutch (which Kansas fans know all too much about) and helping to bury the Thunder in a critical game to push the series to 3-1 with 25points. He has been hounded all playoffs by his own players, but inside the Miami camp they have remained constant in their backing for the point guard and see the harsh lessons as a way for him to unlock his full potential. He has never failed to disappoint on the big occasion, its just the consistency and lack of basic errors that the Heat want to iron out.
|RW has been sensational thus far.|
There have been positives for this team. Westbrook’s play as a whole has been stellar with a spectacular game 4 (with 43/7/5) showing the world what he is capable of, instead of focusing on the fact he is not a “natural” point guard and forcing people to realise what an amazing individual athlete he is. He has averaged close to 30/7/7 for the series, but he has still made a few questionable decisions at either end of the floor, however I can live with them given everything else he has brought to the table.
|Providing just scoring won’t do KD.|
Durant on the other hand has mystified me. After a Game 1 performance that helped seal the win he seems to do less and less on the floor with each passing game. He still scores at an efficient clip but with just 2 rebounds in the pivotal game 4 he did little else to help the team get the win. I am rarely critical of KD but if OKC want any chance of picking up another victory in this series he has to bring it on both ends. Now a lot of his productivity was hampered in Games 2 + 3 due to some bogus foul calling by the officials (both games he picked up early fouls in all but the 4th qtr, as he sat most the game). And before you think KD’s relative struggles could be compensated by one James Harden, forget it he has been AWOL all series.
|Troubles down low for OKC.|
Another major issue the Thunder are having, which is preventing them winning games, is so far Nick Collison has been their most productive and effective big man. I like his game so this is no knock to him, but Ibaka and Perkins finishing with 3 rebounds in a game or getting bullied in the post by James/Haslem/Bosh will not allow for victory. They have to protect the paint like they have all year instead of getting bullied on the boards and downlow by a front line with only one player taller than 6’8.
|Finally to be crowned?|
Overall it has been a close series, that could have gone either way at this point. Hopefully for basketball fans OKC can get a win on Thursday in Miami, which I doubt (by the way the 2-3-2 set up in the finals is pathetic) then we can get at least a game 6. We have seen some amazing basketball played at the highest level and right now it seems the King will finally get his ring. However if there is anytime in basketball right now that can pull of a major comeback win it is this Thunder team. Thursday should be fascinating.
Prediction for Game 5; Heat win by 8. Win the series. The King gets a Ring.