After the conclusion of the Conference Finals the contest has become a two participant race. Even if you're pretty sure you're not one of those two (you know who you are) check out how you did.
Miami Heat over Indiana Pacers 4-2
My train of thought was that the Indiana Pacers were going to get right beating up crappy teams on their way to the Conference Finals and give the Heat, who I think is very vulnerable, everything they could handle. My cogitation proved pitifully inaccurate. After Indiana stole game one the Heat took control by closing out game two in the fourth quarter en route to opening up a 3-1 series lead.
vaunted pathetic defense allowed Miami to shoot .510 from the field and .408 from three point range during the series. Don't let the point totals fool you, Indiana managed to slow the game down to skew those numbers. Miami absolutely torched them with an offensive rating of 118 points per 100 possessions. Roy Hibbert really failed to duplicate his impressive playoff performance from the previous season. After averaging 17 points and 9.9 rebounds a game in the 2012-13 postseason he only managed 9.3 and 5.5 this year. Lance Stephenson, meanwhile, is venturing into Ron Artest/Dennis Rodman territory with his bizarre tactics intended to fluster LeBron James. I was really hoping for a wet willy.
Even though the Heat seemed to float through this series and flip the switch when needed, especially when the games were close late, I don't think this incarnation is on the same level as previous years. If they played in the Western Conference I really doubt they make it to the Finals. The current playoff format sucks.
San Antonio Spurs over Oklahoma City Thunder 4-2
This was kind of a weird series. At first it looked like the Spurs were headed to a sweep as they dominated the Thunder with it's All-NBA defensive star Serge Ibaka supposedly sidelined for the rest of the playoffs. Then Ibaka returned for game three, playing miraculously well, and Oklahoma City was right back in the mix. After perplexingly being boat raced in game five the Thunder very nearly forced a game seven. That would have been great tv, even though the Spurs would have (nearly) undoubtedly won.
It turns out the Spurs are just a better team. They play a great system and move the ball around with beauty. Meanwhile the Thunder just run a two man (or one man at times) game with Durant and Westbrook. The "plan" is for them to be forced to create offense with very limited options surrounding them. Basically super hero ball. Just give the ball to those two and expect their talent to overwhelm the opponent. The Spurs really exposed that Oklahoma City needs a tertiary scorer (I don't count Ibaka) in their starting lineup. Some kind of legitimate three point threat would be great (imagine Gerald Green on the Thunder).
What was truly awesome was that Boris Diaw was the MVP of the series (if I'm voting). Once he confidently accepted his role the series was over. Diaw has really frustrated me for most of his career. He has stretches where he plays like this and then others where he, well, doesn't. I really thought after his Most Improved Player award back in 2005-06 he was going to be a force in this league, but he's never been able to duplicate that consistency. I, for one, am happy he has a chance to play a prominent role on a championship contender... even if it is the Spurs.
I begrudgingly accept the Spurs dominance and longevity, and even admire the grace of the excellent team basketball they play, but won't everyone be really happy
when if they finally fall off their perch and give everyone else a chance? The Spurs and Lakers have combined for 9 of the last fifteen championships and have gone to 12 of the NBA Finals. At least the Lakers fell off the edge of the earth last season, but I've grown tired of thinking about the Suns trying to get past them every year (Phoenix hasn't had much luck)...
NBA Finals Prediction
Oh well. I've got the Spurs in five. Everybody leave your predictions and thoughts below.
Like the caption referenced, it's down to two.
If the Spurs win jack's complete lack of surprise will take the crown. If the Heat win it goes to jomerfrancicso. Kris picked the Thunder to win it all, which obviously takes him out of the picture. Meanwhile, TheAlexSkinner picked the Heat in six just like jomerfrancisco, so there's no way for him to make up the extra point.
So there you have it, our champion will be determined when the NBA Champion is determined.
Also, it appears that Lionel Mandrake has changed his user name to Rollin J. Mason in an attempt to avoid the infamy associated with his putrid performance.
P.S. That wasn't really the reason (I don't think), but I've been having fun deriding him.