My takeaways from the third round series:
San Antonio beats Memphis 4-0
Doesn't this series feel like it concluded a long time ago? That's because it did. Tony Parker led the Spurs with 24.5 points and 9.5 assists per game in the series, including 37 points in the series clinching game. Tim Duncan, the ageless wonder, helped neutralize the Memphis bigs (which had appeared to be an advantage for the Grizzlies going into the series) and San Antonio was able to rise to the occasion with games on the line. The Spurs beat Memphis twice in overtime on their way to wielding the broom.
Miami beats Indiana 4-3
The Heat were able to overcome the Pacers in a competitive and wildly entertaining series despite Dwyane Wade struggling due to
a failing body injuries and Chris Bosh playing like an absolute scrub. Having the best player on the planet helps. Bosh was exposed by Indiana's bigs (and his overall lack of talent), going a combined 8-34 from the field in the final four games while pouring down 7 (yes, 7) points per game. LeBron was LeBron. The Pacers dominated the painted area with Roy Hibbert playing like the best center in basketball (which makes his lack of regular season production discomfiting). Paul George further cemented himself as a true gamechanger in the league.
My Finals Pick:
San Antonio over Miami 4-2
I didn't think Miami was nearly as dominant going into this year's playoffs as most. Early discussion from
people who think they know basketball national pundits portrayed the Heat as not only a juggernaut that wouldn't be tested, but also a team that may not lose a game while skipping along to their second consecutive title. After last round's vanishing act left LeBron as the "big one" I don't think people are overestimating the Heat anymore. The Spurs main strengths at the point (Parker) and in the middle (Duncan) are the Heat's main weaknesses. San Antonio's role players are also better across the board. Still, the Cleveland Cavaliers Miami Heat have James, which is absolutely huge.
And the third round standings...
It's a two man race now, folks. Since both contestants at the top of the heap have the same winner and number of games... the contest will be decided by a gladiator style battle to the death. Or a tiebreaker where Eric and Mike will give a new Finals prediction consisting of the winner, number of games and total points in the decisive contest.
Everyone else feel free to give your revised Finals predictions as well, since damn near all of us had OKC in this matchup.
Thanks to everyone for participating! I hope you all had fun
handing my ass to me.
This workout was originally billed as a mass group workout, but evolved into an individual workout for Ben McLemore (Big Board Ranking No. 2) and the other six involved in the group. McLemore is only doing individual workouts starting here with the Phoenix Suns and up next he heads to the Orlando Magic.
McLemore, the former Kansas Jayhawks star, is projected to go in the Top 5 and is the consensus No. 2 overall prospect looking at ESPN, Draft Express, and NBA Draft Insider.
Of that group only Singler and Berggren stand out as those may not belong as fringe second round prospects, but both give unique match-ups for the top tier prospects. Singler played his ball in the PAC12 for Oregon and Berggren with Wisconsin in the Big Ten.
Overall this group allowed new General Manager Ryan McDonough and new head coach Jeff Hornacek the opportunity to meet the players and get to know them on a deeper level. All the top prospects have either gone out to dinner or lunch with the team including McLemore last night. All of the top prospects are options for the team with their No. 5 overall pick.
After the workout McDonough commented on the workout and his comments indicate that McLemore and Oladipo are about neck-and-neck on his rankings. He did not delve into detail, but his comments on the two seem to be that he is very high on both and does not favor one over the other.
Here is a scouting take on the group:
25 podcasts. 25 cents. A penny for my thoughts 25 times. A great deal at even twice the price (since we're dealing with fictional pennies).
To touch on all things quarter, I reminisce on a story I was told as a young lad about the United State's first president... and it's somewhat parallel to the present day Suns. A story about a cherry tree and a hatchet.
*Quotes taken from article by Mary Trotter Kion @ Suite 101
The (very probably fabricated) tale delineates how young George chops down his father's cherry tree and, when confronted, tells the truth about his role in the destruction. His father forgives him for the mistake, even though the tree is a lost cause.
...explaining that by George being honest about the situation he has well paid his father for the ruined tree.
In case I'm being too ambiguous, the cherry tree is the Phoenix Suns and the recent mismanagement is the hatchet.
Between spin like "a more talented team", "not taking the path of trying to make the playoffs for financial reasons", "here's what a basketball genius (Blanks) looks like", ad infinitum... I wonder what good old George would have thought about the Suns recent methods of being honest with their fanbase?
George was forgiven by his father because he told the truth. I have a hard time forgiving the powers that be within the Suns' organization because I still feel they're being unnecessarily evasive.
I understand that a team can't be fully transparent with its fanbase all the time. A team slogan like "How long until the 2014 lottery?" may be more apropos than "Next starts now", but doesn't make for a very effective advertising campaign. Although the ambiguity of the word "next" can still distort the phrase to mean next = sucking.
I also understand that when speaking publicly, as opposed to reading a prepared statement, things don't always come out the way you mean them to are or misinterpreted. Maybe this was the case with Sarver's recent commentsabout "rebuilding the right way."
I was hopeful that recent hirings infused a new sense of candidness into the organization, and was hopeful that a page had been turned, but those rebuilding remarks reminded me of the status quo....
Since we're already on the topic of honesty, it turns out that George's cherry tree episode was most likely completely concocted. Making up a story about honesty... who would do such a thing? The most likely reason for the lie, money. The author is described here as...
...a shrewd businessman who possessed and uncanny sense of what the public wanted whether they knew it or not.
I'll let you draw your own conclusions there...
I (firmly believe that) I will love the Suns (George) the rest of my life, but it's pretty hard for me to move past recent transgressions (hatchet job) when I still feel I'm being duped. Hopefully the tergiversation, dissimulation and disingenuousness (my spin) I've perceived (feel free to have your own opinion) in recent years will wane. In the interim, the Suns need to put down the hatchet.
And here is the list Kris alluded to in the podcast: