These playoffs are fast becoming must-watch. While today didn’t have a game quite on par with the Clippers-Grizzlies thriller of yesterday, we did get a series of tight and hard-fought games and further evidence of what is becoming one of the best rivalries in the NBA, the OKC-Dallas series.
3 votes – LeBron James. I never like giving LeBron too much credit. But I watched the Heat-Knicks game from start to finish. While he didn’t light up the scoreboard – he was outscored by both Wade and Bosh – it was impossible to ignore, from start to finish, just how he controlled the entire game on both ends of the court. As the commentators repeatedly pointed out throughout, this year we have seen the Heat, more than ever, become LeBron’s team as Wade takes a slight step back.
The Heat will only go as far as LeBron will take them, which once again opens up the can of worms that myself and Sam covered just before the playoffs. Tonight, however, he was on fire and it rubbed off on the entire team. And as I tweeted after he made one of those trademark breakaway dunks that send shockwaves through your screen – “for all the shit I talk about LeBron…I love watching him play when he’s on fire.”
2 votes – Russell Westbrook. The Thunder won this one despite a total off-night from Kevin Durant. Sure, he scored 26 points but this was on 5/17 from the field. (The fact that 26 points is a bad night for Kevin Durant shows just how good he is as a ballplayer). Russell Westbrook on the other hand, was locked in all night.
I am in agreement with many of the talking heads who firmly believe that he is the key to this Thunder team. If Westbrook can consistently settle into the role of the No.2 guy who can be the man on nights like these…then OKC will make the Finals, as long as they don’t get monstered inside by Memphis or the Lakers or have a few cold nights as a team.
1 vote – Dirk Nowitzki. I like to give this point to the best player in a losing cause, and tonight that was Dirk with 31 points and 6 rebounds. He was a lucky bounce away from winning this game for the Mavs. Unless he has all those bounces go Dallas’ way for the rest of the series, though, I don’t think the Mavs are beating the Thunder.
The challenge for Dallas is going to be this off-season. If Cuban and Donnie Nelson can’t bring Deron Williams home, then Dirk should probably just be happy with one ring cause odds are he won’t win another. And in that situation, it makes more sense for Dallas to begin a full-scale rebuild and possibly look at trading Dirk, assuming he agrees to waive his no-trade clause.
Honourable mention goes out to the glass case in the American Airlines Arena visitor changing room that Amare smashed up.
Just a quick word on Orlando-Indiana to finish. I didn’t watch the full game but what I saw was what you’d expect. The Magic played hard but without Dwight they have no consistent offensive stimulus. The Pacers didn’t look brilliant but still put them away easily.
I don’t think Indiana can beat Miami in a 7-game series, but I do think they can give them hell and surprise a few people along the way.