Every season, there are only a handful of teams that affect the championship landscape. Find out which teams matter for 2014-15.
Last season’s epic NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs got a remix and is currently tied at one game a piece with a critical. This year’s rematch between the league’s top two teams is shaping up to be as good or better than last season’s 7 game masterpiece. Both games in San Antonio were mirroring images of each other. Game 1 saw the Heat more in control throughout most of the game with the Spurs using a bit of luck (LeBron James’ muscle cramps) to propel them to victory1. Roles were reversed in Game 2 as the Spurs lead most of the way and luck coming the Heat’s way (Tony Parker and Tim Duncan missing 4 free throws).
These teams are evenly matched2 and it is a privilege to watch them battle for the Larry O’Brien trophy. Based on the first two games it’s nearly impossible to say which team has the advantage for the remainder of the series, though someone has been predicting the Spurs since the season started. Instead here a few quick takeaways from Games 1 & 2:
- The King is still the King – Yes, Kevin Durant was a deserving MVP for the regular season and, yes, James is still the world’s best player. We covered “crampgate” and the ensuing fallout in our last episode. In case you were paying attention, he was the best player on the court until he was forced to sit out the last 4 minutes of Game 1. It’s not a small coincidence that the Spurs late 4th quarter surge came after James was carried off the court. James responded to the ridiculous criticism by being transcendent yet again in Game 2. As if for shits and giggles he did it in a variety of ways. From attacking the lane in the 1st quarter, hero ball jump shots in the 3rd and, finally his likely favorite, making the right play by finding an open Chris Bosh for the go ahead 3 pt shot. I can’t wait to see what LeBron has in store for us next.
- The Claw – Kawhi Leonard was brilliant in last season’s Finals and many believe he will be the face of the Spurs once Duncan retires. These two games have been somewhat rough the stone faced wingman. Leonard’s been plagued by foul trouble in both games and gets the tough task of being the primary defender on James. Having to expend an enormous amount of energy defending James has probably lead to his underwhelming performance on the offensive end. Leonard has totaled 18 pts on 6-14 FGs and 2 rebounds thus far. Those numbers don’t exactly shout out at you. He’s still, at worst, the Spurs’ second best two-way player and they’ll need him to have a bigger impact to be successful.
- Gray Haired Contributors – Chris pointed out that during their Finals’ fun, Miami always seems to find a way to get older, seemingly washed up players to contribute in major ways. Whether it was Ray Allen, Shane Battier or Mike Miller, the veteran players that have filled out the Heat’s lineup have always come through. This year it’s looking like that player will be Rashard Lewis. Lewis is far from the player he used to be and his role has been so small that sometimes I forgot he was still in the league let alone on the Heat roster. However, since being dusted off and inserted in the starting lineup in the Eastern Conference finals he’s made an impact. He’s totaled 24 pts on 5-13 3PT’s and is on his way to being the Heat’s unsung hero should they go on to win the title.
- Return of the Catch Phrase – Mark Jackson didn’t take a break after being fired by the Golden State Warriors. Instead, he immediately reached a multiyear agreement with ESPN and rejoined the broadcasting team of Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy. The back and forth banter between Jackson and his former head coach is enjoyable and even funny at times. Jackson also dusted off his familiar catch phrases such as “Hand down, man down” even if he hasn’t always used them at the appropriate times. Even after a 3 year absence from the broadcasting table Jackson’s catch phrases are in danger of growing stale. He might want to get together with Dwayne Johnson and come up with some new ones
- Every NBA Champion has had good fortune, luck or things going their way.
- In the 9 Finals games played thus far, a grand total of 18 points separate the two teams.
This week special guest host Jason McAdams joined us to discuss our reactions from Game 1 of the NBA Finals, our predictions on how the rest of the series will play out, and the fall out from LeBron James’ muscle cramps in the 4th quarter. Enjoy.
This week we took a look at the many questions facing the Indiana Pacers following their playoff exit, the sale of the Clippers to Steve Ballmer for $2 billion, and a potential Finals rematch between the Heat and Spurs.
Previewing the Conference Finals, calling into question Chris Paul’s leadership ability and #pointgod status, and discussing how race impacts coaching in the NBA.
- Tom Ziller on the NBA’s race problem for coaches (SB Nation)
- Scott Ostler: Is there a different standard for black coaches? (SFGate)
- Marcus Thompson: Warriors, Mark Jackson and the question of race (Mercury News)
Dwight Howard’s exodus (or cowardly flight, depending on who you ask) to Houston has instantly made the Rockets a playoff staple for the next few years. Houston’s assembly of stars starting with James Harden and most recently D12, has turned a scrappy feel-good squad into a Western Conference title contender.
Yes, I said title contender. I believe that the Western Conference is a realistic ceiling for this team. It’s not just the arrival of Howard, as we’ll see, there are a number of other factors that give Houston an edge on their Western conference foes. Continue reading
Following Game 7, we decided to get together to talk about the Heat’s championship run and lay the 2012-13 NBA season to rest.
The Peoples’ brothers get together on a fine day to discuss the Spurs stunning Game 1 victory, analyze these NBA Finals, revisit our previous playoff predictions, and pick the 2013 NBA champion.
- 00:00 – Introduction
- 02:00 – Quick notes around the league: Roy Hibbert’s fine, Lionel Hollins’ interesting situation, George Karl’s firing, Jason Kidd’s and Grant HIll’s retirement
- 15:50 – Revisiting our playoff predictions
- 22:40 – NBA Finals thoughts and questions
- 44:20 – Performances and Embarrassments of the Week
- 49:25 – Finals predictions and closing
- Roy Hibbert fined for slur (ESPN)
- TPC’s playoff predictions
- Lamont’s prediction method
- Mark Cuban sponsors flopping research (SMU)
- Chris Bosh’s playoff shot chart (NBA.com)
As the 2013 NBA Playoffs keeps on keeping on, the crew from The Peoples’ Court asks a few questions about the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s voting process and wonders if anyone really cares about who gets in anymore. We also tried to figure out what’s going on in the minds of Chris Paul, Donald Sterling and the Los Angeles Clippers, decreed once and for all that legacy of the San Antonio Spurs is not boring and brought more Conference Finals analysis.
- 00:00 – Introduction
- 2:10 – Quick news from around the NBA.
- 5:25 – How much value does the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame still have and does its voting process need to be changed?
- 10:15 – Chris Paul is not too happy with Donald Sterling and the L.A. Clippers.
- 16:15 – San Antonio Spurs earn their fifth NBA Finals appearance and don’t really care if you think they’re boring.
- 23:40 – Eastern Conference Finals reactions and analysis.
- 40:10 – Performance and Embarrassment of The Week
- Bernard King and Gary Payton headline 2013 Basketball Hall of Fame class
- Hall of Fame election process
- Chris Paul angry with Clippers’ management
- Lebron James comments on players flopping
The NBA returned from the All-Star break, mourned the passing of Dr. Jerry Buss, and yawned through the trade deadline. This week we talked about why the trade deadline was so quiet and the story lines that will shape the stretch run of the 2012-13 season.
- 00:00 – Introduction
- 03:25 – Remembering Lakers’ owner Dr. Jerry Buss
- 13:25 – Billy Hunter ousted as union head
- 17:48 – If a trade deadline falls in the woods, and nobody hears it, did it actually fall?
- 23:15 – Second half story lines
- 50:15 – Performances and Embarrassments of the Week
- Lakers’ owner Dr. Jerry Buss passes away (NBA.com)
- Trade Tracker 2013 (ESPN)
- Chris Paul and Blake Griffin on Jimmy Kimmel (YouTube)
- Warriors debut new sleeved jerseys (NY Daily News)