Breaking Down the NBA
Lakers' Ramon Sessions entering free agency.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: Sessions smells that the Lakers are in a tough position and he's smart to levarage it for more money.
Los Angeles guard Ramon Sessions is declining his one-year option for 2012-2-13 and instead looking to test the free agent waters. He's clearly hoping to garner more than the $4.55 million option the Lakers had on the table.
Sessions had a productive year with Los Angeles averaging 12.7 points, 6.2 assists, and 3.8 rebounds in 23 regular-season games. The Lakers need his speed and quickness both on offense and defense. They will be forced to still try and sign him through free agency, but would likely have to pay more.
LA traded long time point guard Derek Fisher away last off-season, due to his declining lateral mobility and will be in a bad situation if they can't resign Sessions for a reasonable amount of money. They've still got Gasol as an option to trade, but the problem is they don't have much money to play with and the number of quality guards available this off-season with comparable quickness are few.
Photo Credit: AP NEWS.
Mike Dunlap is the Charlotte Bobcats New Head Coach
It was reported today that the Michael Jordan owned Charlotte Bobcats, aka the NBA's worst team, have hired Mike Dunlap to be the new head coach of their team.
Hoopsvibe's Quick Call: The Bobcats can only be better under Dunlap. (Hopefully.)
It wasn't pretty, but it's still a win.
HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Miami has the momentum up 2-1 and homecourt advantage. Maybe the King will finally be crowned.
The Heat started off strong building a 20-26 first quarter lead, but as we all know Oklahoma has a history of starting slow. The Thunder game roaring back winning the 2nd and 3rd quarters to set up the fourth quarter showdown we've all come to expect in these playoffs.
The Thunder didn't quite look like themselves going into the 4th. James Harden was having a horrible game with just 9 points on 2-10 shooting and Kevin Durant had sad a large portion of the 2nd and 3rd quarters with early foul trouble in the game.
On the other side of the ball, LeBron was able to get good looks largely inside the paint. When LeBron receives the ball from 17 feet and in, his shooting percentages go way up. In game three LeBron lived in the paint in the first half. This is a recipe for success as it give him more confidence in knocking down the jumper when it presents himself, but prevents his settling for long fade-away shots the Thunder are relieved to see him attempt.
In the 4th it was really anyone's game. The Heat build up a 7 point lead with about 5 minutes left and it looked like Miami would cruise to their second NBA Finals win, but 30 seconds and 2 Wade turnovers later it was a 1 point game. Sefolosha is a defensive machine and has proved capable of picking Wade's pocket multiple times late in games.
In the end Miami won it at the free throw line. It wasn't the most glamorous win in NBA history watching LeBron and Wade knock down free throws, but it was still a win. LeBron ended up with 29 points and 14 rebounds as Wade had 25 points. Durant had 25 points on limited minutes due to foul trouble and Russell Westbrook 19 points.
Game 4 is in Miami on Tuesday.
Photo Credit: AP NEWS
For the last two days, all we've heard about is how a non-call on a supposed "obvious" foul committed by LeBron James on Kevin Durant cost OKC a chance at tying, and possibly winning, game two of the NBA Finals.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: Non-calls go both ways, folks. Quit whining, OKC.
We know the Thunder are supposed to be the "Good Guys" and we know the Heat are the "Bad Guys" and that somehow the non-call at the end of the game makes LeBron even more of a villiain, but let's not let that cloud our sense of logic, people.
If we're going to venture into the always grey area of call vs. non-call, what about the obvious charge on Durant with 3:21 left where a blocking foul was called on Shane Battier in lieu of giving Durant his 6th foul and an early exit? You could FEEL the entire arena come to a standstill because everyone knew what they saw; a CHARGE, by definition. Watch it again here, it is an absolute textbook charge:
You could also feel the collective butthole of the referees pucker up because they HAD to make a call. Imagine if they would've made the correct call; for as hot as Durant was in the 4th there would have been no comeback for the Thunder, the game would've been over.
This is bigger than two missed calls; this all boils down to the prevailing hate for LeBron James. But why?
I've always fallen on the Kobe side of the "Kobe vs. LeBron who is better" argument, so I am no LBJ fanboy. But watching him absolutely CARRY the Heat this postseason has been amazing to watch. With no consistency from D-Wade, and an injured Chris Bosh, you see in a hurry how thin the Heat are in terms of talent and depth. If you put Nick Collison on the Heat RIGHT NOW, he'd start at power forward and offer more of an inside presence than anyone else. He's expected to score, rebound, bring the ball up the floor and then defend Russell Westbrook, a top five scorer. Durant, Westbrook and Harden have each other; LBJ gets Wade and Bosh on occasion.
Other than "The Decision", what has LeBron really done to make people dislike him? Guaranteeing winning six or seven titles didn't win him a lot of friends outside of Miami, but if you're a Heat fan isn't that EXACTLY what you want to hear? He makes his free throws, he never gets arrested. By and large it is safe to say he's a good dude; not a villain.
Even if the Heat win the series, LeBron will never "win". If we're going to speculate about the "No call" at the end of the game, then let's call it both ways.
Image Credit: AP NEWS
Miami's Big 3 Too Strong for Thunder in Game 2, Even Series
Last night the Miami Heat came out strong and beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 100-96 to tie the series at one game a piece.
Hoopsvibe's Quick Call: Coming out strong in the first quarter is crucial in this series.
It was the first time this year that the Thunder has lost a playoff game at home.
The Heat just came out hungry and that was the key to the game. They opened up the game with a vengeance and at one point had an 18-2 lead. The first quarter ended with the Heat up 27-15 and that definitely set the tone for the rest of the game.
Thunder Coach Scott Brooks put it best when he said, "They played attack basketball and got us on our heels. We have to play better from the very start."
While OKC would eventually come back only to lose the game by 4, they cannot come out sluggish against Miami and expect to win every game coming back from a deficit.
Kevin Durant and Lebron James led all scorers with 32 points a piece. We just can't say enough about those two guys. Both Durant and Lebron have just been unbelievable. Durant's range and length make him so tough to defend while Lebron's strength is unmatched. We are all pretty lucky as fans to be witnessing these two superstars go head to head.
Russell Westbrook, who started off the game playing terribly (yes, terribly) turned it around by the second half and finished with 27 points of his own.
But it was the play of Dwayne Wade, the 2006 version, that really set the tone for Miami. Wade came out in attack mode, was 3-6 shooting, and had 3 rebounds and 3 assists in the first quarter.
Chris Bosh and Shane Battier also came up huge for the Heat. Bosh made huge contributions on both the offensive and defensive glass. He was aggressive and often times gave the Heat second chance opportunities that they hadn't been getting with him on the bench. He grabbed 15 rebounds in total, 7 of which were offensive. He also finished with 16 points. Battier, who's had a great series against the Thunder so far, was 4-5 from three-point land and did a pretty decent job guarding Durant.
There's no question it's still either team's series to win. But each team will have to come out strong every game in order to win.
"We can't start off 18 and 2. We can't get down that much especially at home..." Durant said following last night's loss.
Nope. Not if you want to beat the Heat.
Questions or comments??? Get at us Hoopsvibers!
Image source: AP Images
David Stern, the commissioner of the NBA, got into a fight on air with Jim Rome.
HoopsVibe Very Quick Call: Stern should be fined by the NBA for acting like an jackass.
LeBron and Wade's settling for jump shots instead of going after layups costs Miami the game.
HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: This is the finals guys. Play like you care.
The Miami offense continues to look disjoined and stagnant. It relies on bailout miracle shots, one-on-one play, and LeBron going for 45-points in order for the Heat to win.
It is a testament to LeBron, Wade, and Bosh's one-on-one offensive skills that they are back in the finals again. These guys are truly some of the best players in the game. It's just a shame they still haven't figured out how to win as a team, so they continue to lose as individuals.
In case LeBron hasn't gotten the memo, he is a beast offensively. Oklahoma has no on that can cover him. The only player that can shut down LeBron is wearing number six for Miami, namely LeBron. He continues to let the Thunder talk him into settling for deep jump shots and getting the ball on entry passes while straddling the 3-point line.
Yes, LeBron's statistics this playoff run are amazing, but if Miami is going to win he has to start playing a lot smarter. LeBron shoots a much higher percentage when he receives the ball in a high post position around 17-18 feet out. Yes, LeBron can take and make 3-pointers, but if he drove to the rim 3 times as much as he does he'd put the whole Thunder team in foul trouble, live at the line, and force OKC to lay so far off him his jump shot would come alive. When he did start launching jumpers they wouldn't be 3-pointers, but rather 18-foot looks that he knocks down at a 70% clip.
LeBron must stop settling and start dictating. The problem is he's too good. He can make 3-pointers and he can receive an entry pass by the 3-point line and still score, but Miami need to increase their efficiency and apply more pressure to Oklahoma. Settling for deep jump shots or hiding in the corner in the last 10 minutes of the game, isn't going to get the job done.
If Miami is going to win a ring this year I need to see game 6 LeBron from the Eastern Conference Finals every night. Miami needs his intensity and dominance now, not his smiles and easy going demeanor. This is where championships are made. Michael understood it, Kobe understood it, the question is whether LeBron will ever figure it out. No one cares that he went for 30-points. The only thing that matters is he didn't go for 10 in the last 10 minutes like his team needed.
Here are your position-by-position Finals matchups.
HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: It all starts with Lebron vs. Durant. The matchup of the year. This is the head-to-head mathup everyone wants to see.
CENTER: Kendrick Perkins vs. Udonis Haslem.
Perkis is tough as nails, but isn't much of an offesnive threat. Haslem's been battling it out with Garnett for 7 games, so it's difficult to see Perkins bing any more intimidating that KG. Plus, Haslem has a mid-range jumper he can knock down. Edge: Heat.
POWER FORWARD: Serge Ibaka vs. Shane Battier or Chris Bosh.
Ibaka has always been regarded as a shot-blocking machine and with his recent addition of consistent mid-range shooter he is a true threat on both ends of the court. The real question is whether he can continue to shoot lights out or if his 11-11 night of shooting was a fluke. Bosh is still getting his legs under him, but dropping 17 points and 3 3-pointers in game seven is only going to help. Edge: even.
SMALL FORWARD: Kevin Durant vs. LeBron James.
Durant shoots the 3-pointer better than Durant, but will he be able to get the looks he needs with LeBron on him. LeBron is unstopable from 17-feet and in, but tends to settle for too many outside jumpers, instead of taking the ball to the rim. The real benefit of Durant is he is better at getting his entire team involved. LeBron's the MVP, but Durant is a better franchise player. Edge: Thunder (barely).
SHOOTING GUARD: Thabo Sefolosha vs. Dwyane Wade.
Dwayne Wade hasn't exactly been himself this playoffs. He's been putting up descent numbers, but never really taking over. Sefolosha will put the defensive clamps down on Wade, but Sefolosha lacks offensive skills Wade bring to the table. Edge: Heat.
POINT GUARD: Russell Westbrook vs. Mario Chalmers.
Chalmers is quick by normal standards and a descent shot, but Westbrook is lightening fast and a better shooter. Chalmers will have his hands full trying to keep Westbrook from penetrating at will. Edge: Thunder (By far).
Conference Finals Mirror Images of Each Other
On Monday I wrote an article about the critical role home court advantage has played in each conference championship series. As of Monday, each team in each series had won their games at home; and each series was tied 2-2 going into their respective game 5's.
And of course, in both game 5's, the away team earned victories and completely changed the dynamic.
So here we stand, as NBA fans, waiting to see what happens in each game 6.
Hoopsvibe's Quick Call: The best team wins.
The Chicago Bulls are making moves to try and acquire either Steve Nash or Jason Kidd this summer.
HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Not a bad move since Rose won't be around.
Sources are now reporting that the Chicago Bulls are making inquiries to the Suns and Mavs looking to acquire either Steve Nash or Jason Kidd. This indicates that Rose will almost definitely miss all of next year, but it also indicates the Bulls are confident that if they acquire a solid point guard they can still make a run at a championship in 2013.