More NBA Conference Finals
MORE NBA PLAYOFF CONFERENCE FINALS
THE SPURS FINALLY LOSE A GAME (AND TALK ABOUT YOUR NO-SHOW PERFORMANCES!) AND WE GEAR UP FOR TONIGHT'S HEAT-CELTICS GAME 3 BASH IN BOSTON
By Jim Hurley:
No need to wait up last night for the post-game rants/raves from Sir Charles, Shaq Diesel and "The Jet" on TNT's after-hours highlight show:
Oklahoma City's walk-in-the-park 102-82 win/cover in Game 3 of the NBA's Western Conference Finals versus 4 ½-point road underdog San Antonio never did have much drama attached to it once the desperate (and down two games-to-love) Thunder reeled off 32 second-quarter points en route to a 54-41 halftime lead.
The Spurs' epic 20-game winning streak was busted big-time thanks to a slew of turnovers, some rotten transition defense and way too much of OKC's Thabo Sefolosha who was all over the court in one of the great stat-sheet stuffing nights of this playoff season (see 19 points, 6 rebounds, 6 steals and countless hustle plays on both ends of the floor).
Maybe Okie City head coach Scott Brooks listened to all the experts (like us!) who said after Game 2 that the do-it-all Sefolosha had to play more than 15 minutes in Game 3 - he played 37 action-packed minutes on Thursday night, you'll note - but even before Sefolosha seemingly took turns guarding each/every member of the Spurs there was San Antonio uncharacteristically tossing balls away and playing out-of-whack hoops. Maybe when Tim Duncan started missing all those open jumpers off the pick-n-roll - note Duncan drained just 5-of-15 field-goal tries and some were real clank jobs - you got the distinct sense this wasn't going to be the Spurs' night and Oklahoma City came out as one would expect with a back-to-the-wall but uber-talented team going full bore and taking things right to the hoop.
Sure, three-time NBA regular-season scoring leader Kevin Durant (22 points) of the Thunder had his moments and ditto for jackrabbit teammate PG Russell Westbrook (10 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds) but this night belonged to Sefolosha and the so-called supporting cast characters (see Serge Ibaka's 14 points, for instance) and no doubt Spurs' head coach Gregg Popovich knew this was a lost cause game as he subbed out for his stars early in the final frame. Hmmm.
Hey, who needed the pressures of a twenty-something-game winning streak right through the rest of the post-season anyway?
We'll have the Spurs-Thunder Game 4 Preview in tomorrow's Jim Sez and wait till you see our "memo" to San Antonio!
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
#2 MIAMI at #4 BOSTON - Game 3 is tonight at 8:30 p.m. ET
The Boston Celtics said they've already "put it behind them" - meaning that epic 115-11 overtime loss in Miami the other night is rear-view mirror stuff now - but is that really possible?
After all, the Celtics had the Heat down as many as 15 points in Game 2 (and as many as down 11 points in the second half) and yet couldn't close the deal.
Yes, point guard Rajon Rondo did get raked across the eyes by Dwyane Wade with the score knotted at 103 in overtime and yet no whistle was sounded but let's point out the fact that Boston left "role players" Shane Battier and Udonis Haslem wide open for jumpers (the first a triple and the second a 15-ffoot corner deuce) that really proved to be a blow to the mid-section and even 8-point road underdogs have to take advantage of the openings left 'em like when LeBron James missed OT free throws.
In this Game 3 tilt back in Beantown, the Celtics need another whopper game from Rondo - okay, so producing another 44-point game with 10 assists and 8 rebounds ain't all that likely, we know - and they need some energy minutes from the likes of reserves Mickael Pietrus (only three points in 28 minutes in Game 2 before eventually fouling out) plus they must make the three-point shot a bigger part of their arsenal: The C's drilled just five triples (in 16 attempts) from beyond the arc on Wednesday night as Paul Pierce (21 points) misfired on all five of his trey-land tries.
On the flip side, two things to watch here for Erik Spoelstra's Heat team that's still without injured F Chris Bosh:
Miami must continue to attack the tin - there's not much hope the Heat will take another 47 free throws here (they made 31 of 'em in Game 2) but both James and Wade will gladly exchange some shots to their bodies for shots from the free-throw line after that dynamic duo combined for 25-of-35 FT shooting in that last tilt; Lastly, Miami must hit the offensive boards with a vengeance here:
Note the Heat registered 13 offensive boards in Game 2 and scored 18 second-chance points (or 10 more than the Celtics scored in that particular category) and all that proved was the difference in winning/losing Game 2. Here's how the Heat-Celtics playoff series has gone so far (note that all home teams are in CAPS):
|5-28||MIAMI||- 8||Boston||MIAMI 93-79|
|5-30||MIAMI||- 8||Boston||MIAMI 115-111 (ot)|
NBA PLAYOFF POINTSPREAD STANDINGS
(thru Thursday, May 31) Here's the pointspread breakdown this playoff campaign for the four still-alive NBA teams:
NOTE: Catch our NBA Playoff Conference Finals coverage right through this first weekend in June plus get MLB and NFL News and Notes right through the summer of 2012!
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