Wall To Wall NBA Playoff Coverage

Network Now 5-0 in the NBA Conference Finals after sweeping side & totals Monday and Tuesday!

IT’S WALL-TO-WALL NBA COVERAGE IN TODAY’S JIM SEZ:

WE REVIEW THE HEAT’S 87-83 WIN OVER THE PACERS IN GAME 2 …PLUS A LOOK AHEAD TO TONIGHT’S THUNDER-SPURS BATTLE IN THE WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS GAME 2

SURPRISE, SURPRISE: CLEVELAND WINS THE NBA DRAFT LOTTERY (AGAIN!)

Got a question for ‘ya:

When the Indiana Pacers took a 63-56 lead over the Miami Heat with two-plus minutes left in the third quarter of last night’s Game 2 of the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals, were you thinking what we were thinking and that is this the Heat’s shot at a “three-peat” this year could be history?

Well, before anyone could get too dreamy about that possibility, the Heat’s biggest star showed what he is all about:
LeBron James dished off two monstrous assists for three-point baskets – first by Chris Bosh and then by Norris Cole – and before you could say “dynasty” there was Miami down a mere one point while heading into the final quarter.

Suffice to say, James – who was stone-cold silent for much of Game 2’s opening three quarters – really came alive in the fourth quarter and combined with tag-team buddy Dwyane Wade to register 22 of the Heat’s 25 fourth-quarter points in rallying Miami to a gut-check, get-even 87-83 win/cover as 2 ½-point road favorites.

Suffice to say something else here:

If the East’s top-seeded Indiana Pacers don’t go on and win this best-of-seven series then all of the Hoosier State will be quick to point to this Game 2 loss as where exactly “it got away”.

Let’s go a little deeper with our Heat-Pacers Game 2 analysis:

EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS –
MIAMI 87, INDIANA 83 –
Series tied 1-1; Game 3 is Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET
No doubt you know whom all the “villains” are for the Pacers here as the ESPN cast – starring Jalen Rose and Doug Collins – were quick to sound the alarm against both Paul George (4-of-16 FG shooting for 14 points) and that Indiana bench that basically went AWOL with a 3-of-13 shooting night that included Luis Scola’s 1-of-6 FG stat line (to say nothing of his statue-like showing on defense).
Still, the Pacers – save for “Born Ready” G Lance Stephenson (25 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds) – simply didn’t always play with great energy and too many times missed simple gimme shots within 12-to-15 feet of the hoop and if you don’t think this was a “winnable” game for Frank Vogel’s squad then simply review some of those shot attempts in the game’s final five-or-so minutes.
In all, Indiana shot 32-of-80 from the field as we pointed out in yesterday’s Jim Sez you just knew the Pacers were not gonna go for 100-plus points again as was the case in that 107-96 la-di-da Game 1 win last Sunday afternoon.
Conversely, the Heat brought some unexpected energy sources to the table including the aforementioned Cole and F/C Chris “Birdman” Andersen as that duo wound up + 14 and + 25, respectively, when they were on the floor.
Maybe Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra got his point across that there needed to be an improved “commitment” to playing defense after that ragged Game 1 showing because the Heat got the message and never let George get rollin’ here – so this series is even and now there’s the interminable break till Saturday (nothing new, the NBA’s been taking the Thursday/Friday nights of Memorial Day Weekend off for a couple of years now).
Plenty of time for Wade to rest his tattered knees; plenty of time for the Pacers to scratch their heads and wonder what it might feel like to be up two games-to-none on the two-time defending champs.

Tonight, it’s …
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
OKLAHOMA CITY at SAN ANTONIO – Spurs lead series 1-0; 9 p.m. ET, TNT
Just put this one in perspective while heading into this evening’s Game 2 tilt in the Alamo City:
The San Antonio Spurs have won their last five playoff home games by 17, 22, 17, 24 and 23 points – now that’s a far cry from losing Game 2 in their opening playoff round versus Dallas (remember that 113-92 home loss way back on April 23rd?).
Still, following the Spurs’ 122-105 triumph in Game 1 of this best-of-seven series this past Monday night, nobody on San Antonio was “counting their chickens” just yet even though it’s a fact Oklahoma City’s “rim protector” Serge Ibaka won’t play here because of a calf injury – amidst reports that Ibaka wants to play when the series heads back to Oklahoma City this Sunday night.
The Ibaka absence was the numero uno post-game story the other night when San Antonio poured in some 66 in-the-paint points while shooting a super-crisp 50-of-87 from the floor (that’s 57.5 percent).
Naturally, just when you thought aging Spurs superstar Tim Duncan might be on his “last legs” he winds up with a team-best 27 points while canning 11-of-19 FG attempts and without Ibaka to patrol the paint here the game plan remains the same:
Have PG Tony Parker (14 points, 12 assists and just 1 turnover in Game 1) do his drive-and-dish stuff and watch Duncan power his way to the hoop for relatively unchallenged shots. If the Thunder – who admittedly played its worst defensive game in this year’s post-season with the Game 1 loss – don’t “body” Parker and Duncan here then you might well be adding to that growing list of double-digit home wins by the defending Western Conference champs.
Two other keys here:
Oklahoma City’s tandem of Kevin Durant (Game 1-high 28 points) and PG Russell Westbrook (25 points and 7 assists in this playoff round opener) surely ran out of gas by the late stages of the third quarter when San Antonio took command of Game 1 and the TNT post-game dudes were quick to point the finger of blame at the scoreless showings of starters Nick Collison (who got busted in the lip pretty good at one point here) and Thabo Sefolosha who we believed needed to be a real offensive threat if the Thunder was gonna stand a chance in this series.
No question those guys along with C Kendrick Perkins must put some points on the board here ‘cause it’s already been proven that a 53-point night from Durant/Westbrook still isn’t enough.
Finally, let’s not make the Spurs only all about Duncan and Parker:
In Game 1 the magic of reserve G Manu Ginobili (18 points and just 1 turnover in 27 minutes in Game 1), the all-around athletic play of Kawhi Leonard (16 points, 6 rebs and 3 steals) and the three-ball shooting of Danny Green (he made 4-of-5 treys) was monstrous but for SA to nab a second straight win/cover in this series gotta believe that Gregg Popovich’s club needs to slow down Westbrook’s full-out charges to the hoop … you heard it here first!

NBA DRAFT LOTTERY NEWS/NOTES

Do you really think the NBA is still “paying back” the Cleveland Cavaliers for losing the aforementioned LeBron James to free agency back in the summer of 2010?
The Cavs last night cashed in once again by winning the top spot in next month’s NBA Draft – even though Cleveland entered the Draft Lottery with a minimalistic 1.7 percent chance of getting the top pick – and wonder what just-fired Cleveland head coach Mike Brown must be thinking right about now!
The Cavs now will be picking first for the second straight year and for the third time in the past four seasons but that’s no guarantee they’ll get it right although all signs right now point to ‘em snapping up Kansas C Joel Embiid – is that the correct move when they could tap Duke swingman Jabari Parker who appears destined for a superstar career and already we’re starting to get Greg Oden vs. Kevin Durant flashbacks from the 2007 NBA Draft!
If we had a crystal ball at this very moment, then this is how we think the first five picks will go in this 2014 NBA Draft:

  1. Cleveland – Joel Embiid, C, Kansas … If this big man can stay healthy (and that’s a big issue) then he could be a rare in-the-paint force in a league that’s more about swingmen, shooters and slashers these days.
  2. Milwaukee – Jabari Parker, G/F, Duke … The Bucks will thank their proverbial lucky stars when this Chicago native slips to ‘em with the second pick and early forecast is Parker will be an NBA All-Star by his second year in the league.
  3. Philadelphia – Andrew Wiggins, G, Kansas … The 76ers may have “tanked” a slew of games this year but it still didn’t land ‘em the top spot although Wiggins could be a 20-plus ppg scorer from the get-go, so watch out.
  4. Orlando – Dante Exum, G, Australia … This star from “down under” apparently is a sure thing to get drafted in the top five picks and Magic needs just about everything, right?
  5. Utah – Aaron Gordon, F, Arizona … The one-and-done stud is highly athletic and this pedestrian Jazz team needs a go-getter more than anything else and we see Gordon good for 15 points and 8 or 9 rebounds a night.

     NOTE: More NBA Playoff coverage in the next Jim Sez.

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