I’ve been having computer trouble all week, so needless to say I’m a bit testy at the moment. Jeopardise my NBA viewing, especially during Finals week, and someone will feel my fury (as the folks over at HP can surely attest to). But I digress.
I’m not going to bash the Thunder here because I think for the most part they’ve played pretty well; they’re just getting beaten by a more experienced and hungrier team. No shame in that, but if their Big Three can’t bring their A-games to the next contest, then this thing’s over. And LeBron James, well, he’s about to deliver the mother of all F**k You’s to his critics.
3 votes – LeBron James. Kelly Dwyer over at Yahoo! Sports said it best: “LeBron James has turned into some unholy amalgamation of Magic Johnson and Charles Barkley”. And he’s bang on with that. We’ve spoken about LeBron at length here at NBAMate but I’m just so impressed with the transformation in his game. Among other things, his move away from the perimeter, towards a brutally efficient post game, is a remarkable transition and chalk and cheese from the way he was playing last year. (Is it not crystal clear now? If you want the cherry on top, get a post game). And as a result, he seems to be finally living up to the ridiculous expectations. He still has a tendency to turn it on and off at times, but for the most part he’s been incredible in these playoffs, and tonight was no different (26 points, 9 rebounds and 12 assists). Just sit back and enjoy it because it’s special to watch.
2 votes – Russell Westbrook. He was outrageous tonight with 43 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. He scored 17 points in the fourth quarter, hitting 7 of 9 shots from the floor and all three free throws. He was huge and gave everything he had, but his teammates went missing in the fourth (how bad is Harden playing?).
And is it just me, or do you get the feeling that Russell Westbrook is about to become the new LeBron James (in terms of the level of criticism)? Like LeBron, it seems that whatever he does, it’s not good enough. I think there’s a few things that people need to remember about this guy: 1) he’s only 23 years old and still very much learning how to play the NBA game (and the point guard position), which is actually quite frightening if you think about it; 2) the Thunder do not make it this far without him; and 3) they absolutely need his scoring to succeed.
But just like LeBron is about to do, Westbrook too will one day get his redemption; it’s inevitable. He’ll just have to put up with a whole heap of crap until that day comes.
1 vote – Mario Chalmers. He’s evolved into a solid starting point guard and valuable contributor behind the Big Three. 25 points on 9 of 15 shooting, with key plays down the stretch (12 points in the fourth), in Game 4 of the NBA Finals? That’s impressive. They’ve got him locked up at $4 million per year for the next two years (with nice looking rookie Norris Cole behind him) so perhaps they don’t need to make a run at Steve Nash this offseason. My advice – concentrate on strengthening your big man corps.
A side note. I hope they stick with this new format on League Pass, where they give us the footage during timeouts. I’m kinda (really) enjoying watching the cheerleaders, especially Miami’s, strut their stuff during the breaks. More please!