So who else had the Heat in 5? But I jest...
All 4 games in the series have been competitive and come down to the fourth quarter, with the last three being decided in the waning moments, but Miami is positioned to close out the series tonight because, ironically, they are playing team basketball and closing out games better than the Thunder.
It has been an entertaining series so far, but not great. Great series don't end in 5 games. The Thunder will have to extend this before the discussion can enter that realm. To do so, they will need an inspired effort.
Here are some quick stats, notes, and trends to watch for:
Lebron James 29.3 ppg, 10 rpg, 6 apg, 47.2% fg
Dwyane Wade 23.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 5.8 apg, 41.3% fg
Chris Bosh 12.3 ppg, 10 rpg, 39.6% fg
Kevin Durant 30.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2 apg, 55% fg
Russell Westbrook 29 ppg, 7 rpg, 6.8 apg, 48% fg
James Harden 10.8 ppg, 5 rpg, 3.3 apg, 35.1% fg
James leads the Heat in scoring, rebounding, and assists per game for the series (Westbrook is 1.3 points and .5 rebounds per game from the same feat). James will be the Finals MVP if Miami wins tonight. Believe it or not, Lebron =
Durant has become a more one dimensional player in the series with less than 5 rebounds per game. He has also struggled with
horrible officiating foul trouble and (possibly) the physicality of the series.
Harden has had an execrable series, reaching double figures just once in 4 games. He needs to step it up. He will be playing tonight with a bruised
Miami has had a more balanced attack, with 5 players (Lebron, Wade, Bosh, Battier, and Chalmers) reaching double figures in scoring at least twice. Only Durant and Westbrook have done so for the Thunder.
The Thunder have had a player score at least 16 points in the fourth quarter in 3 of the 4 games (Durant 17 game 1, Durant 16 game 2, and Westbrook 17 game 4), but Miami has come up big when it mattered most.
Will tonight finally be the King's coronation, or will the series head back to the barn for game 6?
This year the NBA decided to a get little more social and started recognizing various players, teams and personalities for their impact on the basketball social media world. They're calling it the NBA SMA's (Social Media Awards).
Awards with quirky colloquial names like "FTW" and the "LOL" were handed out to individuals who impacted the social media scene with either plays made on the court or their direct interaction with fans through social media or in their communities.
The Phoenix Suns are proud to boast that in the inaugural presentation of the NBA SMA winners Jared Dudley was the winner of the "BIG" (Best in Game) award which honors a player who best connected with fans through the use of social media. Whether it's JMZ /JSPN vidoes posted on Twitter or Facebook, or engaging questions posed to fans about current events, trends or food spots around the country - Dudley does indeed provide a unique and entertaining perspective on the life of a professional basketball player in the NBA.
You can watch a short video of Dudley receiving the award here.
What was your favorite JMZ interaction this year?
With the NBA Draft fast approaching on June 28, we at Bright Side of the Sun want to cover all the bases regarding the possible players who the Suns could draft.
Depending on the decisions the Suns make in free agency this season, nearly every position could be considered an area of need.
With the future of Grant Hill an uncertainty, and Jared Dudley and Josh Childress being the only wings currently under contract, small forward can certainly be considered a position in need of attention.
If the Suns choose to address this position, one of the candidates they could choose to draft this year is Jefferey Taylor.
For those of you who have been following the mock drafts, you may have noticed that most analysts believe Jeffery Taylor will be drafted in the late first or early second round, not the lottery. So why would the Suns have any interest in him with the #13th pick? Well, most likely they wouldn't.
However, as our own Alex Laugan pointed out, this is a buyers market with plenty of teams willing to trade or outright sell their picks for the right price.
So even though the Suns don't currently have any additional picks beyond the 13th, with as many holes as they have to fill, along with trying to convince their franchise free agent point guard to stay, they may feel the need to significantly upgrade their roster and acquire young talent through one of the cheapest means possible...the draft.
If the Suns choose to address one of the guard positions with their 13th pick, they may still seek a way to add an additional first round talent at another position for a lesser price. Jeffery Taylor is considered by many analysts to be one of the best values in the draft where he is currently projected to be taken, and many believe he will be a very solid contributor at the next level. We do know that the Suns already invited Jeffery Taylor in for a workout, so obviously there is some level of interest there, and Taylor's position is certainly a good match for Phoenix as well. So if the Suns do either buy or trade their way into the late first/early second round, Taylor would certainly be a viable option.
But would Jeffery Taylor be the right fit for the Suns? Read on after the jump for a closer look.
Jefferey Taylor is a 6'7" senior SF from Vanderbilt who is known for his tremendous athleticism, speed, quickness, and great defense.
Until his senior year, his skill-set could be said to end right there. One of the biggest knocks on Taylor has always been his inconsistency as a shooter. However, he has greatly improved his game in this regard, especially from beyond the arc. Taylor went from shooting just 22% from three in his freshman season to 42% beyond the arc as a senior.
Taylor also steadily improved his overall offensive game over his four-year career at Vanderbilt. He was the second highest scorer on the Commodores this season averaging 16.1 points per game while shooting 49.3% from the field, to go along with his 5.6 rebounds per game as well. Taylor also played a major part in helping to lead Vanderbilt all the way to the SEC championship this season by beating the heavily favored (and eventual NCAA champion) Kentucky Wildcats in a stunning upset. Unfortunately for Taylor, the Commodores wouldn't fare nearly as well in the NCAA tournament as they were defeated in the third round by Wisconsin.
At the NBA pre-draft combine, Taylor's numbers were even better than expected. He measured 6'7.5" in shoes at 213lbs with a 40 inch vertical, and an 8'5.5" standing reach. Taylor also posted the fourth lowest 3/4 court sprint time at the combine at 3.19 seconds, and the second lowest in the lane agility drill at 10.57 seconds.
Here are the stats from Taylor's four seasons at Vanderbilt:
|Player Info||Shooting Ratios||Passing Ratios||Defensive Ratios|
|Player Info||Complete Metrics||Possession Info||Possession Ratios|
|Year||Min||PER||EFF||EFF/40||WS/40||Pos/g||Tm Pos/g||% Tm Pos||Pts/Pos||FGA/Pos||FTA/Pos||Ast/Pos||TO/Pos|
Looking at these stats you can see that the three point shot is really the most noticeable area of improvement over Taylor's four years at Vanderbilt. He has always shot the ball at right around 50% from the field overall, and his points per game have really only increased due to his minutes increasing along with them.
That's not necessarily a bad thing though...One of Taylor's greatest strengths has always been his defense, and he has consistently done well in this aspect of his game. He has also always had a great first step and been very quick at getting to the rim. But his improved three point shooting gives him another way to contribute at the next level, and this is an area of his game he has really worked hard at developing and has really paid off for him...and could make him that much more valuable to a team that depends on the outside shooting ability of the wings, like the Suns.
The only real knocks against Taylor are his age (23) and that he's not a great iso scorer or all that great at creating his own shot. But Taylor brings a great deal of NBA readiness with his game along with incredible athleticism and a high motor, and could be a steal as a late first round pick, or especially as an early second round prospect if he's still available.
I expect the Suns will at least be ready to wheel-and-deal come draft day, and I wouldn't be surprised if Taylor is someone they keep a close eye on.
*All stats provided by DraftExpress.com