Thursday, May 31, 2012

WCF Game 3 San Antonio Spurs @ OKC Thunder 5-31-12 Instant recap

1st Quarter

Russel Westbrook starts the game by hitting a tough shot over Tony Parker & OKC couldn't asked for a better start to this game. They lead 8-0 and the Spurs have 4 turnovers.  One adjustment Scott Brooks did was putting Sefolosha on Parker, rather than letting Westbrook guard him.

Spurs first basket came at the 8:42 mark, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker are the only ones scoring for the so far, Spurs have comeback and only trail by 2.   12-10 

3:00 -  Durant exploded to the basket for the dunk.  The Thunder takes the lead back, 13-12, after the Spurs took it on the previous position.

Stephen Jackson has come to the game and immediately had an impact, he went 2-2 from the field for 5 points and also draw an offensive foul on Kevin Durant.

With 7 seconds remaining Thabo Sefolosha took a shot (accidentally)  at Manu Ginobili's neck and got called for a flagrant one.  After one, The Spurs are leading 24-22. 


KD has 8 points, Tony and Duncan have 8 each.  San Antonio had 7 turnovers in the first 12 minutes.



2nd Quarter


Thabo Sefolosha ignited a 9-0 OKC run, he passed the ball to Ibaka for a layup, also made a three, Nick Collison made a jumpshot & James Harden had a layup.  OKC takes a 31-28 lead.

Kevin Durant had a technical foul (While on the bench) he argued a call that went against them (Harden got called for an offensive foul with Gary Neal was still moving)

James Harden had scored the last 9 points for OKC a Nick Collison  layup stopped the run.  Collison is 3-3 from the field and having a big impact in this game, he's also being asked to guard Duncan. 

The Thunder are making all the extra passes, Russell drove to the hoop and found Harden for an open three, Derek Fisher drove and found Kevin Durant for a layup, the Thunder are up by 12.  44-32 


Kendrick Perkins blocked Manu on an iso, Durant made a jump shot and it's all  Thunder in the 2nd. Tony Parker scored back two back field goals for San Antonio. At the half Thunder lead 54-41.  







Halftime Stats:
Tony Parker  11 Pts
Tim Duncan 9 pts
Manu Ginobili  8 pts 

Kevin Durant  16 Pts
Russell Westbrook 8 Pts
James Harden  11 Pts


Halftime notes: 

 - Tim Duncan passed Kareem Abdul- Jabbar for first place on the all time career playoffs blocks 477 (KAJ's blocks weren't counted until his playoff game #42)
 - Sefolosha played 17 minutes in the first half after playing just 15 minutes in Game 2.
 - Tim Duncan has made 4 FG, after scoring just two in game 2.
 -  Thunder outscored the Spurs 32-17   in the 2nd quarter.

3rd Quarter

Thabo Sefolosha has done it all, he's being making three's,  he's being guarding Parker and doing an excellent job and OKC jumped out to a 17 point lead.  Thunder have 14 fast break points, Spurs 1.

Both teams are just chucking three pointers and nobody is hitting anything until Kevin Durant jumper made it 65-48, with 4:36 left in the quarter.

The Thunder have displayed a defense exhibition, they aren't letting San Antonio get to their sets and their lead has increased to 20.

At the end of three, OKC leads the Spurs 78-60 






4th Quarter


Pop emptied his bench, he has James Anderson and Dejuan Blair in the game, obviously waiving the white flag. Meanwhile, OKC doesn't know what a miss is, Serge Ibaka had a long jumper before the shot blocker buzzer sounded, Harden banked a shot in the same situation as well. This one has been over for awhile now.

Final Score:  OKC 102, Spurs 82. The Spurs 20 game winning streak is over, game 4 will be Saturday.



Final Stats:

Spurs
Tony Parker  16 Points
Stephen Jackson  16 points
Manu Ginobili 8 points 
Tim Duncan 11 points


Thunder
Thabo Sefolosha  19 Pts
Kevin Durant 22 Pts
Russell Westbrook  10 pts 
James Harden 15 pts 



Credit: NBA Yahoo Sports/Getty Images

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NBA 2012 Draft Lottery Results



The New Orleans Hornets, who had a 13.7% chance of winning the first pick,  won the 2012 NBA Draft lottery last night. They are expected to select Kentucky's freshman and NCAA player of the year, Anthony Davis.   There are a lot of conspiracy theories (Even some NBA players) said the NBA rigged the lottery





The Charlotte Bobcats had the worse record in all of basketball this season and failed to get the first overall pick. They acquired the #2 pick.


Here are the rest of the results:


1.         New Orleans               
2.         Charlotte
3.         Washington     
4.         Cleveland
5.         Sacramento
6.         Brooklyn (To Portland)           
7.         Golden State   
8.         Toronto           
9.         Detroit
10.       Minnesota (To New Orleans via LA Clippers)            
11.       Portland          
12.       Milwaukee      
13.       Phoenix          
14.       Houston           


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ECF Game 2 Boston Celtics @ Miami Heat 5-30-12 Recap



The Miami Heat and The Boston Celtics fought extremely hard last night. However, only one team could end up with the win and it was The Heat.  Despite a wonderful performance by Rajon Rondo  44 pts, 10 assists, 8 rebounds (and playing 53 minutes) in an overtime game, the Celtics couldn't keep it up with the Heat's and lost  115-111.  Miami has a 2-0 series lead.






Lebron James scored  34 points and 10 rebounds, Dwyane Wade had 23, Udonis Haslem had 13 & 11 and they needed every one of those points in order to beat Boston, which had a 15 point lead earlier in the second quarter.  

James and Wade weren't the only ones contributing for the Heat, starting point guard Mario Chalmers scored 22 points and Shane Battier hit a couple of clutch threes.  For Boston,  Rondo wasn't the only scorer, Paul Pierce scored 21 points and Ray Allen had 13, but they needed Garnett to play better (18 pts, 6-18 FG)  if they wanted to steal game 2 at the American Airlines Arena.

Boston now faces a tough task ahead, win 2 games at home against a very good road team and tie this thing up at 2-2.  Celtics played with a lot of heart last night and they showed that can compete with the Heat, but i don't think they will have enough in the tank to beat this team 4 times in 5 games.

Credit:    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images 


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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

WCF Game 2 OKC Thunder @ San Antonio Spurs 5-29-12 Instant recap





1st Quarter

Tony Parker made the first field goal of the game at the 10:19 mark. Both teams started slow before San Antonio woke up first and got a  10-2 Run after Kawhi Leonard's dunk. Every Spurs starter has scored with the exception of Duncan.

Parker is hitting his jump shots early (4-5 FG, 9 points) he's destroying OKC with pick & rolls,  Kevin Durant is doing the same for OKC, he scored a driving layup & a three pointer and he has 7 of OKC's first 11 points.

4:12 -   Manu Ginobili and James Harden entered the game with Spurs leading by 8.  (19-11)

Kevin Durant has been hot from the field the entire quarter, he made a three which give him 12 points, 5-7 FG, but every time he makes a shot, the Spurs have responded.  Manu Ginobili and James Harden traded baskets as the quarter came to an end. The Spurs are leading 28-22. Their biggest lead of the quarter was 10. 

2nd Quarter

Derek Fisher started the quarter by hitting a corner three and once again the Spurs had a response as Manu scored a basket and was fouled.  Ginobili, with his dribble penetration, created a wide open three for Matt Bonner and with a good pass helped Tiago Splitter draw a foul.  James Harden has bounced back from his game 1 performance, he's hit some mid range shots (4-5 FG) for 9 points.

Since Tony Parker came back the Spurs picked up their intensity level even more. He created a layup for Splitter, Splitter had a nice assist to Danny Green and Stephen Jackson made a three to give the Spurs a 42-29 lead, their biggest of the game.  The Spurs have 11 assists, the Thunder have 12 made field goals.

Can't say enough about Parker, spinning his way for a layup around Kendrick Perkins, hitting jumpers, he's doing it all for San Antonio right now.  James Harden for OKC has adjusted and instead of taking  it to the rim on every possession, he's shooting (and making) mid range shots.  However, he hasn't draw as many fouls as he'd would like.

Rusell Westbrook isn't going down without a fight, his triple and Harden's free throws have cut the Spurs lead to 7 but only for a few moments. The lead grew to 11 behind  TIM DUNCAN's huge facial (That was unreal, vintage Timmy) on Serge Ibaka and 2 free throws.



The Spurs are up 55-44 after the first half.

Halftime Stats:
Spurs. 
Parker 17 Points and 5 assists. 
Duncan 7 and 8 boards
Manu 5 Pts, 2 assists.


Thunder 
Durant   14 Pts, 2 rebounds & 2 assists. 
Harden  14 Pts & 4 rebounds. 
Westbrook  8 and 4 assists. 


Notes:

  • Tim Duncan tied Hakeem Olajuwon for #2 on the all time post season blocks with 472. 


3rd Quarter

Beautiful passing by the Spurs to start the quarter. Kawhi Leonard, Boris Diaw and Danny Green have a three pointer each, along with a two from Parker and a layup from Diaw (beating Ibaka off the dribble) and San Antonio have started the quarter 5-5 from the field and leads 68-52 


Somehow, Tony Parker is playing even better now than in the first half.  Hitting every jumper he throws in (11-15 FG) , finding Kawhi Leonard for a three pointer. Spurs lead 78-56.    The Spurs are putting on a clinic and it's a beautiful sight to watch. 


Scott Brooks clearly showing signs of desperation, decided to try the hack-a-Splitter to get a couple of stops.  Tiago went 5-9  from the line during the stretch.  The Spurs scored 37 points in the quarter and they lead 92-76



4th Quarter

If OKC loses this game it won't be because of lack of effort, despite all that has happened, the Thunder have outscored the Spurs 10-3 and the San Antonio lead is down to 9 with 9 mins remaining. The Thunder have been switching everything, playing a small lineup with Ibaka at the 5  and it's working out perfectly.

The Thunder have gone 11 times to the free throw in less than 7 minutes, the Spurs haven't taken a free throw yet.  Spurs are really confused on offense mostly due to an outstanding defensive effort by OKC, but they  are still up 8 with 5:40 remaining.

After some free throws and  a Tony Parker jump shot the Spurs lead is back to 11.  Westbrook and Harden were making shots and trying to cut the lead down, however, KD isn't getting done in the 4th.

In the last 2 minutes of the game the Thunder closed the gap by 8 and 7 points respectively, but Manu Ginobili hit two clutch shots (a two and a three) and Parker hit a two and ended OKC's hope of stealing home court.

Spurs defeat the Thunder 120-111. They have a 2-0 series lead. Game 3 is at OKC on Thursday.

Final Stats:

Manu Ginobili  6-11 FG, 20 Points & 3 assists. 
Tim Duncan  2-11 FG,  11 Points & 12 rebounds. 
Tony Parker  16-21 FG, 34 points, 8 assists & 3 rebounds. 
Kawhi Leonard  7-12 FG,  18 points & 10 rebounds. 


Jamess Harden  10-13 FG, 10-13 Ft's, 30 Points & 7 rebounds. 
Kevin Durant   10-17 FG, 31 Points, 5 rebounds & 5 assists. 
Russell Westbrook   10-24 FG,  27 Points, 8 asists & 7 rebounds. 

Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

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Monday, May 28, 2012

ECF Game 1 Boston Celtics @ Miami Heat 5-28-12 Instant recap






1st Quarter

Lebron went straight to the hoop and Miami scored the first basket of the series.   Kevin Garnett has scored 4 out of the first 5 Celtic points, at the 7:08 mark, no Heat aside from Lebron and Wade has scored.  Both teams can't seem to find the basket. Miami leads 10-5 while shooting 4-10 From the field, Boston is shooting 2-11 FG.  Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo are a combined 0-7 FG.

Lebron James is entering video game mode and it's still the first quarter.  He completed an alley oop from Mario Chalmers that gave him 8 points, shooting 4-6 FG, 2 rebounds & 2 assists.

At the end of the 1st quarter, Lebron lead the Celtics 13-11. The Celtics have played wonderful defense, but they can't get anything to fall. Kevin Garnett hit 3 out of 4 field goals, while the rest of the team went 2-16 FG.  Heat lead 21-11 


One of the biggest keys for Boston was Rajon Rondo. Well, he hasn't scored so far and Boston won't win if he isn't agressive. He grabbed 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 4 turnovers. Celtics are shooting 25% 







2nd Quarter

Mike Miller has grabbed 2 offensive rebounds and 2 three pointers since entering the game, giving the Heat a spark and an 11 point lead.  Miller is the 2nd Heat player other than James and Wade to score in the game (Battier hit a three earlier in the 1st) Miller has more  points than Allen, Pierce and Rondo combined. 


Rajon Rondo really turned up his aggressiveness, he scored 8 pts in the quarter and also was finding his teammates for wide open shots.  Paul Pierce scored 10 points in the quarter (after being scoreless in the 1st) and Boston after trailing by as many as 11, are now tied 46-46 to end the half. 






Halftime Notes:

  • After scoring 11 pts in the 1st, Boston scored 35 pts in the 2nd quarter.  That's the first time Miami allowed an opponent to score more than 30 in the playoffs.
  • Rajon Rondo might be on his way to yet anoter triple double. 8/5/5 
  • Celtics coach, Doc Rivers, got called for a technical foul for shouting "C'mon Eddie" to referee Ed Malloy in the 2nd quarter. 
  • Lebron James 17 pts, 4 rebounds & 3 assists.  He's 6-6 in the paint & 1-6 outside the paint. 
  • Heat are shooting 50%  (17-34 FG), Celtics are 42% (18-42) 
  • Kevin Garnett only played 14 minutes in the first half. 



3rd Quarter

After the first 6 minutes of the quarter, the Heat have opened a 7 point lead. Dwyane Wade and Lebron James have scored 4 points each & Shane Battier has provided defense and offense.  Wade had a beautiful baseball pass to Lebron James early in the quarter.  Boston has tried to get Brandon Bass more involved in the game, he made a jump shot.

Spoelstra made a very good decision, he sat down Mario Chalmers for James Jones( Jones hit a three the , moment he came into the game) but also gives Dwyane Wade the option to guard Rajon Rondo (giving him all the space in the world) and doesn't have to spend much energy on the defensive end.

The Heat outscored the Celtics 26-15 in the third, Lebron James had 10 in the period. They lead Boston 72-61






4th Quarter

Heat started the quarter with a 6-0 run and got a 17 point lead, their biggest of the night.  Boston's still fighting and have cut the lead to 13.  80-67 


Every single time the Celtics had some momentum, the heat killed it by hitting some difficult shots and playing outstanding defense, especially from James & Wade.


Final Score:  Miami Heat 93,  Boston Celtics 79.

Lebron James 32 Pts &13 rebounds
Dwyane Wade 22 Pts

Rajon Rondo 16 pts
Kevin Garnett 23 pts
Paul Pierce  12 Pts
Ray Allen 6 pts

Credit: NBA Yahoo Sports/Getty Images

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Deja Vu?

Ok, first of all, I did NOT expect my first article on here to not be about the Chicago Bulls. In fact, I expected them to come this far. But injuries have broken my expectations yet again. So here is my unbiased preview of two teams that are big rivals with the Bulls, who are facing each other in the Eastern Finals. What is that saying? The enemy of the enemy is my friend? Yes. That’s it.

The Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat meet once again in the NBA Playoffs. Last year, Miami was on top of Boston in the semis. This year, more importantly, tonight, they will continue their quest for a spot in the NBA Finals. 

This season, the Celtics took a 3-1 series from Miami. Here’s a preview of the 2012 NBA Eastern Conference Finals.

Even though Chris Bosh has been sidelined with a lower abdominal strain, teammates Dwyane Wade and LeBron James have been averaging about 53 ppg in the postseason. The Celtics are the league’s best defensive team at this point. I think overall this will be a best-of-seven series. Offense vs. Defense.

Expect Miami to continue their half court game. They run the ball and run right through, the Celtics’ defense has to keep up if they have any chance.

Boston’s defense did take a low blow, with a season ending should injury to Avery Bradley. Will Ray Allen be the one to stop Wade’s 33 ppg and 62 percent shooting (the last three games)? Miami is more of a perimeter shooting team with a lot of pump fakes involved. If the Celtics can stand their ground and stay in the zone where they can slow down Miami, then they are halfway to their goal.

Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen will be big keys to this series. With Rondo against Mario Chalmers, I expect Rondo to run circles around Chalmers and participate on the defensive end. Allen has been ice cold, making just three of his previous 19 three-point attempts. His consistent shooting is what keeps this offense alive. As for KG, if he can keep leading this team, pushing them mentally and playing all over the floor offensively and defensively, Boston will make this a SERIES to talk about. He’s been averaging 19.2 ppg and 10.8 rpg.

“His leadership is the most important thing for the Celtics, but he’s shooting the ball as well as anybody from the outside. Garnett is one of the toughest guys to ever play this game. He’s one guy who never quits.” – Wade on Garnett’s role on the Celtics

The Celtics will need to find a way to score if Allen’s inconsistency continues. Rondo, Paul Pierce, and Garnett may be the solution. But in order to really win the series, they need to take care of the ball and they need to stop Miami from scoring in transition.

A lot of people have the Miami in seven. I have Boston in seven. They maybe older, but they have the experience, they are wiser. This core has been together longer and they have what it takes to defeat the Heat.


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Sunday, May 27, 2012

WCF Game 1 OKC Thunder @ San Antonio Spurs 5-27-12 Instant recap



1st Quarter

Thabo Sefolosha started the series by hitting a three (From Kevin Durant)  The Thunder started on a 5-0 run, hitting their first 2 shots and playing outstanding defense.  It took the Spurs some time to get used to the pace, (especially Danny Green, he started 0-3) but they quickly adjusted, by using Tony Parker in pick & rolls and had a 8-0 run.

Tony Parker is 2-3 FG and Boris Diaw 2-2 FG, both have 4 pts for San Antonio, Kevin Durant is 2-4 FG also with  4.  After starting 2-2 from the field, the Thunder missed their last 5 shots.

6:31 NBA 2008 Sixth Man of the year, Manu Ginobili, comes off the bench for an erratic and nervous Danny Green. Scored was 10-8 Spurs at this point.

4:31 Kendrick Perkins picked up his 2nd personal foul. As expected, he wasn't too happy about the call.  

3:19  The Thunder playing outstanding defense, making the Spurs commit  6 turnovers already, they only average 13 in the regular season.

Manu Ginobili made a three at the buzzer, giving the Spurs a 24-18 lead.  Spurs finished the quarter with a 10-2 Run, Manu had 7 of the 10.



Stats:

Russell Westbrook  1-6   3 pts
Kevin Durant  2-6  5 pts
Harden 0-4 FG   in 4 mins
Kawhi Leonard   2-4   5 pts
Manu  Ginobili 3-5   7 pts
Tim Duncan 2-6   4 pts
Tony Parker  2-5  4 pts
Boris Diaw  2-2  4 pts

The Spurs  shot 11-25  FG in the 1st, Thunder 6-22 FG.  OKC averages 9 steals per game in the regular season, they had 5 in the quarter.




2nd Quarter

Scott Brooks started the 2nd quarter with a four guard lineup: Fisher, Cook, Harden and Thabo.    Manu Ginobili is taking over this game, he took over in the first with his scoring and now with his passing, he found Tiago Splitter for a wide open layup.   Spurs lead 31-25 at the 8:49 mark.   Timeout Thunder.    Following the timeout, the Thunder responded with a 6-0 run.  Fisher, Russell and Collison each made a jumpshot.  

6:49  Manu Ginobili goes to the bench, 4-7 FG, 10 points.  Kevin Durant and Tony Parker returned.

2:57    Kevin Durant has 11 points, Boris Diaw has 8. Spurs are shooting 49%, Thunder 42%.

1:36  Spurs committed their 11th turnover of the game.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook scored 11 out of the last 14 OKC points. The Thunder went into halftime with a 47-46 lead.  Derek Fisher went 4-4 FG with 9 pts in the 2nd quarter.

Halftime notes:

  • Spurs have 13 Turnovers, tying their regular season average. 
  • KD and Westbrook went a combined 9-22 FG and 22 pts. 
  • Spurs bench have outscored OKC's 19-16.  Neal had 5 pts, Splitter 4 and 10 for Manu. 
  • OKC went 6-8 from the line, they average 25 free throws per game. 
  • After losing the first quarter by 6, OKC won the 2nd quarter by 7. 
  • James Harden went 1-9 FG in 14 minutes. 
  • Spurs have a 26-16 advantage in the paint. 

3rd Quarter

 The Thunder started the quarter with a 5-1 run and they lead 52-47, while the Spurs are still committing turnovers, they got their 15th of the night.     9:26 -  Timeout Spurs.   


6:00   After the first 6 minutes of the quarter, OKC got a 59-56 lead. Kevin Durant made a couple of jumpers, Westbrook made a three & Perkins had a dunk.


3:15 Gary Neal enters for Tony Parker.


Derek Fisher made yet another jumpshot, he's shooting 5-5 From the field, has 11 pts.   OKC finished the quarter with a 10-3 run and have a 71-62 lead at the end of three.  Durant leads all scorers with 21 pts.  Spurs pulled a Kobe (f2010 Finals game 7) and shot 6-24 from the field in the quarter.





4th Quarter

Tiago Splitter is taking over the quarter, made 2 baskets around the rim, took a charge on Harden and draw a foul on the offensive end.  After Gary Neal's layup, Thunder lead was cut to 5 ( 73-68) Scott Brooks called a timeout.

7:56  Spurs went on a 9-0 run and tied the game at 73 after Parker's jump shot.  The Thunder haven't scored in the last 3:28 minutes.

Tony Parker with up and under move and the foul, gives the Spurs a 75-74 lead. Kendrick Perkins picked up his 5th foul.

5:58  Derek Fisher isn't going to miss during this game at all, he made a jump shot, he's 6-6 from the field. The Spurs have outscored the Thunder 15-5 in the quarter.

5:05  Crucial, crucial play. Fisher missed a three  and Gary Neal made one at the other end.  Giving the Spurs a 6th point lead. 82-76 . Spurs are 20-5 in the quarter. 


3:34  Scott Brooks went with a small lineup, having KD play the 4.  Spurs took advantage of this and they are giving the ball to Duncan every chance they get. It's working out just as planned.   Meanwhile, Durant is going to the hoop and drawing tons of fouls, mostly on Stephen Jackson.  Spurs lead 88-84. 


3:02  Stephen Jackson made a three (First FG of the night), Neal draws a charge on Westbrook.  Spurs lead 91-84 


1:11  The Thunder were losing by 10 (After a Ginobili's and one) But they refused to lay down, Harden made a three, Russell a layup and lead was cut in half.   Ginobili responded back with another layup, giving him 26 points for the game and a 7 point lead.  96-89 


Final Score    Spurs  101, OKC 98. 

Tim Duncan  16 Pts & 11.
Tony Parker 18 Pts, 6 Ast
Manu Ginobili   26 Pts (11 in the 4th)

Kevin Durant  27 Pts & 10 boards.
Russell Westbrook  17, 5 & 5.
James Harden  19 Pts

The Spurs have now won their first 9 playoff games. Remember when the Spurs had 13 Turnovers at the half? They finished with 16.

I haven't scored this much in a game this season, they probably wanted me to do so - Manu Ginobili  


Post Game notes. 

  •  Spurs finish off 101-98 win in Game 1.  Streak up to 19 in a row. Spurs haven't lost since April 11. That's 46 days without a loss.
  •  Spurs scored 39 points in the 4th quarter, they had 38 in the 2nd & 3rd quarter combined. 
  •  San Antonio is now   44-4 in last 48 games Parker has played.
  • James Harden &  Russell Westbrook combined for 2 free throws. 
  • Player of the Game:  Manu Ginobili 26 points (11 in 4th), 5 rebs, 3 asts, 9-14 FG, 3-5 3FG, 5-5 FT, 
  • Thunder and Spurs combine for 89 points off the bench.
  • Serge Ibaka played just 22 minutes



Credit: NBA Yahoo Sports/Getty Images


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WCF Spurs vs Thunder. Quotes from practice prior to Game 1.

The San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder are more than ready to start their series, which tips off tonight at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.  Both teams had their last practice before game 1 today.  Both teams are feeling confident and ready to go.  Here's what each team had to say.

Spurs: 


"I think we both deserve it," Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said.


"It's been a while since we've been in the Western Conference finals. And it's been a week kind of sitting here stewing and waiting on it," said Spurs forward Tim Duncan


Thunder:


"I know they're the No. 1 seed - they're a tough group, they haven't lost in a couple months," Thunder forward Kevin Durant said. "But I think we bring another dimension to the table as well and we come out and compete."
"Everybody's always been using that, `We're too young for this and it's not our time, we're not ready,"' Durant said.
"Our success is just not overnight. It just doesn't happen," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "It happens through all of the effort that guys put in. This series is going to be the same thing.
Credit:  Paul J. Weber 


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Eastern Conference Finals Schedule

The Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat will be facing each other for the second straight year, Miami won last season 4 games to 1. It will be a completely different series from last year,  Boston won't have the services of Carlos Arroyo (I kid, i kid)

Chris Bosh will be out for the Heat, while Celtics will be playing with plenty of injuries themselves, Avery Bradley is out with a shoulder injury, Ray Allen has bone spurts in his ankle and Paul Pierce has a sprained MCL. Even with all of that, you can't never count out the Boston Celtics.   Series will start tomorrow in South Beach.  Here's the schedule: 


Game 1 – May 28 – Boston at Miami, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 2 – May 30 – Boston at Miami, 8:30 p.m (ESPN) 
Game 3 – June 1 – Miami at Boston, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN) 
Game 4 – June 3 – Miami at Boston, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN) 
Game 5* – June 5 – Boston at Miami, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN) 
Game 6* – June 7 – Miami at Boston, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN) 
Game 7* – June 9 – Boston at Miami, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)


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WCF (1) Spurs vs (2) Thunder Preview (Thunder)


Royce Young blogs for CBS Sports, he also writes for ESPN'S Truehoop Network Thunder site, The Daily Thunder.   He took some of his time to answer some questions about the WCF matchup between the San Antonio Spurs and The Oklahoma City Thunder. 

The San Antonio Spurs haven’t lost  a game since April 11 against the Lakers, what makes you believe the Thunder will win 4 games against them? 
      
        I think the Thunder are a more talented team. The Spurs are a better team and play much more consistently, but the Thunder possess more explosive ability. And in a series where often times talent wins out, especially over the long haul of five, six or seven games, the Thunder could have just enough. 
     
     What’s the biggest key to defeating the Spurs?
     
       Perimeter defense. The Thunder can't allow San Antonio to roll from outside. If the Spurs hit eight, nine, or double-digits from 3, the Thunder can't win. They have to defend the pick-and-roll and hustle out, rotate over and contest shooters.

       OKC had a 1-2 record against the Spurs this season, one of those games Tony Parker played just 25 and I believe Manu didn’t even played once against OKC this season.  Any concerns?  

       Yeah, the Spurs are good. No secret there. Ginobili didn't play at all against OKC and it didn't matter. But while the regular season series gives a glimpse, I don't think this Thunder team is the same group that they were in the regular season. 

     

     Tony Parker scored 42 and 25 points against the Thunder, why has he had so much success against OKC?
     
       The Thunder are a bit soft in the pick-and-roll and that's where Parker excels. He gets to his spots and can either attack or hit the jumper. 

     Who from OKC you’d feel will be the most important player for them to win?

        Kevin Durant. The Spurs don't have anyone to defend him and there's a chance Durant could carry the Thunder offensively. 

      How do you see the battle of the coaches?

        Well obviously it's a mismatch. We're talking one of the greatest ever in Gregg Popovich versus a pretty inexperienced Scott Brooks. 

     
     
      James Harden shot 50% against every game against the Spurs,  do you feel he will be one of the biggest keys to beat San Antonio?
      
       Harden is always a key just because he balances OKC's offense. He gives them a third option and someone to put the ball. 

      I’ve heard some crazy Spurs fan say  Kawhi Leonard will stop Kevin Durant, how  crazy is that?

       Leonard's been an impressive rookie and he has the physical build to challenge KD. Long arms, strong build, quick feet. But Durant can score almost anyone. In isolation, Durant should get what he wants. But the Spurs defensive system is great at taking away scorers. 

     The Thunder have played extremely well in this playoffs, however, the Spurs are the anti- Lakers.  They can pass the ball more in one possession than the Lakers do in an entire game,  they have a lot of shooters ,   a quick point guard with experience &  they rarely make mistakes.  How'd you see the series playing out?

       It's going to be close. The Thunder need to play four near perfect games. But I picked OKC to go to The Finals before the season and I'm not ready to give up on that prediction yet. So I've got OKC in seven. 
      
     Follow Royce on Twitter @dailythunder , Follow me on Twitter @JohnnyNBA and Like us on Facebook.











WCF (1) Spurs vs (2) Thunder Preview (Spurs)



 Michael De Leon,  founder of the website ProjectSpurs, answered some questions about the Spurs/Thunder series.


This series is going to be epic, the Thunder and the Spurs are so similar in many ways:  you have the humble players in Tim Duncan  and  Kevin Durant, speedy point guards in Westbrook and Parker and battle of sixth man in Manu Ginobili and James Harden.  Any opening thoughts?

 I'm just looking forward to this getting started on Sunday. Since before the Spurs started the playoffs, I had it in my mind that they'd have to go through the Thunder to get to the NBA Finals. I think this was the best possible Western Conference Finals matchup of all the teams entering the playoffs and it could be the most competitive series of the playoffs.


Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard have played really well In the playoffs, how confident are you that they will still perform on a high level against a tough opponent like OKC?

The Spurs have experience on their side. Overall the Thunder are still a pretty young and inexperienced team. Every Spurs player from 1-12 is always on the same page and has the same goal. The Thunder were not at the level they are now, but I knew they'd get there eventually, although I still don't think they're enough to beat the Spurs just yet.

 Danny and Kawhi will be heavily relied on entering this series. I'm guessing Danny will see some time on Westbrook and Kawhi will defend Durant. Nothing really fazes Kawhi so I doubt you'll see much change there and after playing two series' and taking on a huge challenge in Chris Paul, Danny will be good to go.




Which player from OKC you fear the most?  
     
      
I could name a few different guys, but Durant and Westbrook are going to impact this series regardless. The Spurs really have to try to limit James Harden's contributions off the bench. If they let him get going along with the efforts of the others, that's going to be a big hole to climb out of.


Which Spurs has to play well in order for Spurs to beat Oklahoma City?

      Tony Parker has to continue on the tear he has been on. We know Westbrook isn't a standout defender so Tony has to make him pay and try to attack the shorter interior defense of the Thunder. The second unit also needs to have a much bigger impact than they did against the Clippers. That second unit is one of the Spurs' best weapons and they have to be rolling the way they were to close out the season. Stephen Jackson didn't have a great series against the Clippers so I look for him to bounce back.


I saw Harden shot the ball really well in every game against San Antonio this season, why has he been so effective? I believe the winner of the bench, will win the series.
     
       That's just who he is. He's very crafty and he has several tools he can rely on, from a reliable jumper to drives into the lane. He said when he came out of college that he patterns his game after Manu Ginobili, and I see some similarities there in the way they find ways to score.

    


Tony Parker has destroyed The Thunder this season  and the only game OKC won against Spurs, he only played 25 minutes.  Why is Tony so good against OKC?
    
       He's been that good all year, but every player will tell you that they get up for games against some of the league's better teams and they look forward to big matchups. I remember just before Tony went off for 42 points and 9 assists against Westbrook, there had been a lot of talk about how Westbrook deserved to be an all-star and how Tony didn't. I' not saying that's his motivation, but he had also just recently destroyed Kyle Lowry, who was getting some all-star consideration. Westbrook's defense likely has a lot to do with it as well.

I believe Manu hasn’t played any games against OKC this season, how do you see him fitting in vs the Thunder?

     .  He's going to have to counteract what Harden does off the bench. While he didn't have a very good opening series against the Jazz, it looked like he was starting to get going against the Clippers so I expect him to be very effective.


I personally believe the Spurs will win the series in 6 becausee of the way they can adjust to play any kind of game and their depth is just too much to overcome. What about you?
      
       I also say Spurs in 6. While this will be their closest series, the Spurs have the edge in quite a few areas. They also have the playoff experience and depth that the Thunder cannot counter. If the Thunder try to run and pickup the pace a bit, they'll play right into the Spurs' strengths. If they go to a halfcourt game, they can kick it into Timmy and let him go to work down low.
     
Any other thoughts regarding the Spurs/OKC series?  

I 'm just excited for game one to see how things play out early. We'll get a better sense for the series then.



Thanks to Michael De Leon for his contributions, follow him on twitter @mdeleon and visit his website Project Spurs  .   Follow me on Twitter @JohnnyNBA and Like us on Facebook.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sixers @ Celtics Game 7 May 26, 2012. Instant Recap

1st Quarter

This quarter, like the rest of the series, wasn't a pretty sight.  Paul Pierce scored the first basket of the game,   Brandon Bass made two jumpers, Rondo had four assists and the Celtics started with a 10-2 run. In the first four minutes of the game, the Celtics were shooting 57% and the Sixers just 14 %.



The Sixers started the game 1-12 FG and 3 turnovers. Elton Brand kept the Sixers in the game, shooting 3-5 from the field and scoring 8 out of the first 12 Sixers points.  Andre Iguodala had 5 points in the period, The Sixers and Celtics were tied at 20 after the first 12 minutes, but neither team could make anything. Celtics shot 38.9%  from the field while the Sixers were even worse at 28.6%

2nd Quarter

The shooting in this quarter didn't get any better.  The Sixers scored only 13 points in the whole period, shooting 5-18 FG and none of those baskets were outside of the paint.  Boston scored two baskets outside the paint, but couldn't make a single three pointer, they went 0-9.  At the half, Celtics lead the Sixers 41-33 


Kevin Garnett scored 13 points and 12 rebounds, Pierce  had 12 pounts & Rajon Rondo had 5 points, 5 rebounds & 5 assists for Boston. Jrue Holiday and Andre Iguodala both scored 7 points for the Sixers.

The Celtics are 4-3 in the postseason when leading in the first half.

3rd Quarter

Philadelphia shot the ball way better than in the first half, they shot 40% and their offense, as well as their defense, was clicking.   Sixers only allowed Celtics to scored 14 points in the quarter, while they had 19 points.  Their offense was lead by Iguodala and Holiday, each had 12 points after three.  One player that didn't played well in the third was Rajon Rondo, he only had 2 points and 1 assist.  Sixers had a quick 7-0 run to get the lead down to 1 before KG made a jumper at the buzzer and  Boston lead 55-52 after three.



4th Quarter

This quarter  has been all about Boston's will to win and Philly resiliency and not laying down. Ray Allen was 0-5 from three during the first three quarters, but he made two big 3's, especially when the Celtrics needed them the most.  Kevin Garnett also scored  two baskets and Paul Pierce scored one before fouling out at the 3:48 mark.  Paul finished the game with 15 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists.



 When Paul Pierce fouled out, Boston was leading 81-78. Rajon Rondo took over for the Celtics, scoring 9 points in a row, a triple double (10 points, 10 rebounds & 10 assists)  and lead the Celtics to a victory and the series win 85-75.   Sixers fought hard to the end, but couldn't get over the hump.

Andre Iguodala had 18 points, 15 for Elton Brand & Jrue Holiday had 17.  For Boston, Rondo had a triple double along with 18 points, KG had 18 & 13, Pierce 15 & Ray Allen 11.

The Celtics move on to play the Miami Heat for the 2nd time in a row in the postseason.


Credit: NBA Yahoo Sports/Getty Images

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Sixers @ Celtics Game 7 Preview 2/2

John from Red's Army was awesome enough to answer some questions about the Boston Celtics chances on beating the Sixers in tonight's Game 7.  Check out his site  Red's Army.  He does an excellent job, one of the better Celtics sites around. 



How much injuries have affected  this team, especially against the Sixers?  I feel this series should have been over in 5 assuming everyone was healthy, do you agree with this assessment?

That's what I picked to start the series, and it easily could have gone that way.  Some of it was injuries, some of it is Philly's defense, and some of it is a simple lack of execution by the Celtics.  You can point to a lot of different things and say "if this was different, this series should be over".  It's a combination of stuff, but health is probably the biggest factor of them all.


It must be frustrating to lose one of the few rising young players you had in Avery Bradley, how has the series changed since he went out?

If I had to choose ONE thing that changed this series the most, it's losing Bradley.  Bradley's on-ball defense caused such huge problems.  And with him on the ball, you could let Rondo roam a little bit and pick off passes to start breaks.  Bradley's defense was actually a huge catalyst for the Celtics offense, and one of the reasons why the Celtics could score whatever easy points they did.  Without Bradley, the Celtics are now starting Ray Allen, who was already a step slower as a defender than he was a few years ago.  Now that Ray's playing on a bad ankle, he's a liability defensively.  It really hurts the team.



I can’t imagine the Sixers actually ending the big three era, do you feel nervous knowing there’s a chance you won’t get to see the big 3 play together again?

Absolutely.  There's no guarantee that Ray Allen will be back and we don't know how much time Kevin Garnett has left.  And to be quite honest, the "Big 3" era is over regardless of whether they come back.  Ray's not the starter anymore and KG's minutes have to be limited for him to be effective during the regular season.  So the Big 3 era is over anyway.  This is now Rondo's team, no matter how the team is constructed next year.

Which Rondo will show up?

We'll see triple-double Rondo tonight.  The Celtics almost always have big bounce-back games at home after a playoff road loss, and Rondo will be the reason why.  I'm not sure that he actually will get the triple-double.. but he'll have that kind of game.

Which is the one player from Philly you absolutely have to stop to have a better chance of winning game 7?

Pick a guard, any guard.   Jrue Holiday or Evan Turner, whichever one of those guys decides to be the penetrator,  Elton Brand has killed the Celtics for stretches, but any big that does hurt Boston often does it off a guard's dribble penetration.  If the Celtics force more outside shots, then they should be ok. 



Rondo and KG are the keys to getting a W tomorrow, what’d you think?  Any other keys to success?

If the Celtics win the points in the paint, they'll win the game.  However that happens, it has to happen.  That could mean Rondo layups, KG in the post, Paul Pierce slashing, Bass finishing inside... however they do it, they just need to do it.  That also means, as I just said, stopping Philly from getting penetration, and also limiting turnovers that lead to fastbreak points.  Points in the paint is where this game will be won.

Final prediction?

I like the Celtics to finish this off at home and I like them to do it easily.  I just don't see Philadelphia, with all their youth, being able to focus in the Boston Garden in a Game 7.  Meanwhile, I think the C's feed off that.  They have a history of looking really good at home after looking really bad on the road, so I just think this all comes together tonight in a big way for the Celtics.

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