NOTE: Once you open up the post, it will look really weird. Wait a few seconds, and it should correct itself.
Tip-off for the NBA Western Conference Finals is about 30 minutes away! Super stoked! Was planning on writing a post about the Kevin Durant-Russell Westbrook relationship and if Westbrook’s decision making will be the undoing of the Oklahoma City Thunder (as idiots like Skip Baseless will claim), but I’m too damn excited. Will do that after Game 1, so expect it tomorrow. This will be an epic series, and I have the Thunder in 7. Let’s hope Durant and company can pull it off. If the Thunder lose, it’ll be because the Spurs are a better team, not because of Westbrook.
First let’s go over the Heat’s 100-77 victory over the Celtics. It may just seem like one meaningless game, and even if the Heat say it’s one meaningless game, in reality it was moar than that. It was a gut check; a test to see if the Heat had in fact gotten better over the course of the season. The Heat were also 0-3 against the Celtics this year; they had yet to figure out the stingy Boston D. But yesterday night, they did by dropping 100 points on the defending Eastern Conference Champs. It was a team effort by the Heat. Dwyane Wade had only 14 points, but his tenacious D (including his sick block on Ray Allen’s layup) was integral in the Heat’s victory. Chris Bosh was limited against the physical Kevin Garnett but held his own; he showed he was tough as well by grabbing five offensive boards. Center Joel Anthony had a great game, scoring 7 points and grabbing 10 boards. That may not be an impressive stat line, but his defense is what was really valuable. Lebron James was awfully efficient, scoring 27 points on 11-19 shooting. He also grabbed five boards, dished out seven assists, and had four steals. No matter what you say, this was an impressive and much needed win by the Heat. This also moved them ahead of the Celtic’s for the number two seed in the East. Forgot to mention that. So yeah, this game was actually important. Now let’s look at the Celtic’s. Oh man. The Celtic’s have been completely awful of late. Ever since the Kendrick Perkins trade, they seemed to have lost their identity. I think KG really misses having a big body who takes care of the dirty work playing alongside him. Nenad Krstic and the two O’Neal’s just won’t cut it. Every team (especially a gritty defensive minded team like the Celtics) needs an enforcer down under the rim. They simply don’t have that edge they used to. Another thing that isn’t helping them is the play of Rajon Rondo. I don’t know what’s up with that guy (besides his inability to shoot the ball), but he seems to have forgotten that he is such a gifted rim attacker. Heat point guard Mike Bibby is an awful defender; why wasn’t Rondo attacking moar? All he did was stand on the perimeter and make passes. When Rondo attacks, the Celtics are extremely dangerous; teams have to collapse on Rondo when he drives, which allows him to kick out the ball for easy open looks. Without his penetration, teams can sit back and relax. He was like this against the Chicago Bulls too, when they lost 81-97. Part of that was due to Derrick Rose, but an elite player like Rondo should still get his stats no matter who his opponent is.
Tennis: After beating Rafael Nadal in the 2011 Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Miami, Novak Djokovic extended his 2011 win streak to 24 matches. During that span he has also won four titles including the Austrlian Open. He’s one win from equaling Ivan Lendl’s blazing 25-0 start in 1986. Moreover, Djokovic was only 4-8 in matches against top-10 players last season. This year, he’s a remarkable 8-0. It’ll be interesting to see how long the Djoker can keep this up. But right now, there’s no one better.
The NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship: University of Connecticut 53, Butler University 41. The world watched as two teams who no one thought would make it to the championship game at the beginning of the season duke it out. What many thought would be an exciting game quickly became one of the ugliest games in the history of the NCAA. The University of Connecticut just happened to be the less ugly of the two. The Butler Bulldogs however set a historic record they would much rather have not–the worst team shooting percentage in the history of the NCAA Championship Game (18.8%). This is also the third worst shooting percentage in the history of the NCAA Tournament. Butler coach Brad Stevens should be commended for getting his teams to two straight national championship games but to lose a game in this fashion is embarrassing. Here’s a closer look: Butler shot 12-of-64 from the field, 9-of-33 from the 3-point line and 3-of-31 on 2-point attempts. Look at that again. They made only three 2-point attempts–no one else in title-game history has had fewer than nine–and a grand total of two points in the paint (UConn had 26). Part of that was due to UConn’s superior athleticism in the interior (they recorded 10 blocks). Here’s a few moar statistics:
Is it safe to say the Lakers are finally playing the type of basketball worthy of defending champs? Ever since the All-Star break it sure looks like it. After routing the Spurs 99-83, the Lakers ran their current winning streak to seven games and more importantly made a statement against one of the NBA’s best teams. If the Lakers win their next game at Atlanta, they will have matched their longest winning streak, which they accomplished at they very beginning of the season. After traveling to Atlanta, the Lakers finish up a grueling four game road trip at Miami and at Dallas. Should the Lakers walk away from this road campaign undefeated, talks of a three-peat by Laker fans are sure to begin reaching almost unbearable levels (not that it hasn’t already, but the recent slumps have dampened them somewhat). I for one have never written off the Lakers. After all, they are the defending champs. But I have had my reasons for believing they will not be having a third straight parade this summer. One of them has always been a topic of debate, and that is Kobe Bryant’s shot selection. In his last seven games, Bryant has gone 67-148 (45.3%) from the field and 29-33 (87.9%) from the line for a total of 175 points.