Tag Archives: San Antonio Spurs

Food for Thought 6-5-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. The two best bench players in the NBA put on quite a show last night. James Harden (left) hit the big shot in the end though to help the Thunder go up 3 to 2 in the Western Conference Finals

By Josh Kramer

We could quite possibly be watching history in the making in regards to NBA Playoff basketball.  94% of teams that have gone up 2 to 0 in best-of-seven NBA series have gone on to take the series.  Only 14 teams in NBA history have ever climbed out of a 2 to 0 hole to win a best-of-seven game series.  Both conference finals series began with the higher seed taking a 2 to 0 lead.  Things appeared to be over.  Then both lower seeded teams miraculously defended their home floors (and OKC won one on the road last night).

Can Boston and/or Oklahoma City pull off the unthinkable?  Oklahoma City can.  Yes, I am going to keep doubting San Antonio.  I wouldn’t count on it from Boston.  The Thunder have been the team to watch out West all year.  Despite a very slow start in the conference finals, their bigs (Ibaka namely) awoke in Game 4 and James Harden hit the shot of the year in Game 5.  Remember, Westbrook and Harden combined for a mere 18 points on Saturday.  OKC still won.  Last night, the OKC bigs, Ibaka and Perkins combined for just 13 points.  OKC still won.  The Thunder will knock off the Spurs and become team number 15 to climb out of a 2 to 0 hole. Continue reading

The importance of Chris Bosh

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. At times, Chris Bosh (pictured above) gets lost in the shuffle on Miami’s loaded roster. People are beginning to realize his importance as Miami struggles to survive in the East without the third member of their “Big Three.”

By Andrew Wittry

From the start of the NBA season, the Miami Heat have been the Eastern Conference favorites.  After Chris Bosh’s abdominal strain sidelined him in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals things began to change. Then falling behind 2-1 in the series, the Heat were thrown into a must-win scenario in Game 4. It was the first time all season that Erik Spoelstra’s squad had been in danger of being eliminated by a non-elite team (any team outside of the Chicago Bulls, Oklahoma City Thunder, and San Antonio Spurs). Their one-game deficit also marked the widespread realization of how important Chris Bosh is to the Heat.  Bosh often gets discounted when it comes to Miami’s “Big Three.” Wade is the long-time hero of Miami who brought a championship to South Beach. LeBron is the four-time MVP who puts the Heat on his back night in and night out. And what is Chris Bosh? In reality, he is an All-Star level talent who has 20 ppg and 10 rpg potential; however, the former Georgia Tech forward is the third scoring option in Miami and does not get the credit he deserves for the role he plays alongside D-Wade and LeBron.

It was not until Chris Bosh had to miss the rest of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals that fans began to understand just how integral he was to the Heat’s success. Without Bosh, the Heat have the dynamic tandem of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, aging forwards, and inconsistent shooters. With Bosh on the floor, defenses have to pay attention to both Miami’s guards and forwards. However, if Joel Anthony is involved in a pick-and-roll offense, defenders can concentrate on James and Wade since Anthony is not a major scoring threat. Even if the Heat are Dwyane Wade’s team, Chris Bosh is a more important player. Without Wade this year in the regular season, Miami went 7-1.  Without Bosh, they were 4-5. Continue reading

Food for Thought 5-29-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Manu Ginobli (pictured above) stole the show in Game 1. Will OKC slow down the streaking Spurs tonight?

By Josh Kramer

Continue to doubt the Spurs.  I know that I have.  19 victories in a row is no fluke.  Not to mention that nine of them have occurred during playoff basketball.  Through three quarters on Sunday night, it looked as if the Thunder were on their way to making a major statement, and negating San Antonio’s home-court advantage.  Instead, San Antonio came out firing on all cylinders in the fourth court, denying OKC a major opportunity.  Sunday was as prime example of why no game is every over until the final horn sounds.  Now history is against the Thunder who lost in the conference finals last year as well.

First of all, winners of Game 1 in the conference finals have gone on to win the series 80% of the time.  Secondly, San Antonio became the fourth team in NBA history to start the playoffs with nine straight victories.  All of the previous three advanced to the NBA finals with two taking home the championship.  Thirdly, the Thunder outplayed the Spurs for well over three/fourths of the game and still lost.  Scott Brooks has to be scratching his head still as to what happened late Sunday night.

Manu Ginobli was the difference maker as he has been for the better part of a decade now.  How many players can come off the bench and influence a playoff basketball game the way he can?  Not many, though James Harden, OKC’s bench star, can really play.  Also, OKC has to find a way to get some point production out of their bigs.  The Spurs cleaned up in the paint, outscoring the Thunder 50 to 26.

Despite all of my rambling, I still like the Thunder to take this series in the end.  There is something about this young and exciting group out of OKC that has really caught my eye.  The “Big Three” of Durant, Westbrook, and Harden will not be denied two years in a row.  They are far too good and determined to let that happen.  Look for an inspired effort tonight from Russell Westbrook after a less than stellar Game 1 performance.  The majority of the country wants a Thunder versus Heat finals matchup.  With a victory tonight, the Thunder will really increase the likelihood of this dream matchup coming to fruition. Continue reading

Dream matchup before dream matchup

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. The point guard matchup in the Western Conference finals between Russell Westbrook (pictured above) and Tony Parker should be one for the ages.

By Josh Kramer

Let’s not beat around the bush. The Western Conference semifinals were a major bust.  The city of Los Angeles (Clippers and Lakers) was entirely overmatched and mustered up one total victory.  Now, the matchup everyone has been waiting for in the Wild Wild West is set.  Who isn’t excited for the Spurs/Thunder showdown set to start on Sunday?

Not only did the supposedly “over the hill” San Antonio Spurs tie for the best record in the NBA, they also have won 18 straight games.  The Oklahoma City Thunder are coming off an emphatic thrashing of the Los Angeles Lakers.  OKC has been the favorite all year long out West, and lived up to the part until the final couple of weeks of the season when San Antonio leapfrogged them for the number one seed.  So despite San Antonio possessing the number one seed and cruising through the first two rounds, all records get tossed out the window.  The score is 0 to 0 come Sunday.

Not only did the Spurs and Thunder finish 2nd and 3rd in the NBA in terms of scoring offense this season, they also finished 16th and 17th in terms of scoring defense.  These teams put up frighteningly similar statistics during the course of the 66 game shortened season.  Can you say seven game series?

Flip a coin on what “Big Three” is better.  On one hand, San Antonio has the old-school trifecta featuring Parker, Duncan, and Ginobli.  On the other hand, OKC has a terrific trio in Westbrook, Durant, and Harden.  This series will start and end at the point guard position though. Tony Parker versus Russell Westbrook. Continue reading

Food for Thought 5-22-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. LeBron James (pictured above) put on a remarkable performance in Game 4. Sadly, it is ring or nothing for the King this year.

By Josh Kramer

40 points.  18 rebounds.  9 assists.  That was LeBron James stat line on Sunday.  Recognition was given for a good 24 hour period.  Come Game 5 (tonight), the remarkable performance will be a mere memory.  People are still far from satisfied with the King.  In taking his talents to Miami back on July 8, 2010, James chose a different life.  A life where the criticism never ends.  Where the expectations grow at an infinite rate.  A life where the word “satisfaction” does not exist.  And of course a life where returning home is more of a chore than a celebration.

You all are quite familiar with the story.  Not  1, not 2, not 3, not 4, not 5, not 6, not 7.  It is a quote on the same level of the classic Allen Iverson “We talking about practice” rant of ten years ago.  This season, LBJ put up arguably the greatest season of his already amazing career, helping him earn his third MVP Award in the past four years.  The amazing thing is nobody seems to care.  All anyone cares about are his missed free throws at the end of Game 2 against the Pacers.  Or the fact that he dished the ball to superstar teammate Dwyane Wade for the final shot in Game 2.

Watching LeBron play this season and during the early going of the playoffs has been a treat.  The guy is doing once in a lifetime type of things on both ends of the floor.  Sadly, the expectations are so high on the King, if he does not bring home a ring, it will all be nothing.  His remarkable 2011/2012 season will be thought of as a failure.  Will the Heat cut down the nets?  I am honestly not sure.  A lot hinges on when Bosh comes back and if he is at 100%.  Haslem did his best impersonation of the injured Chris Bosh on Sunday.  When push comes to shove though, Haslem is not nearly the caliber of player that Chris Bosh is.  Plus, OKC or San Antonio would be stiff competition if Miami were fortunate enough to get by Indiana and then the winner of the Boston/Philadelphia series.

I am by no means a LeBron James fan (I am not a hater either).  I never have been.  But I am a fan of the game of basketball.  The way James fills up the stat sheet on a nightly basis deserves some praise.  What he did on Sunday was truly remarkable.  Sadly, if the Heat lose Game 5, it will all be forgotten.  Despite many saying Dwyane Wade is the leader of the Miami Heat, it is LeBron James who carries the team and the city on his shoulders.  It is LeBron James who took the brunt of the criticism when Miami came up empty-handed in 2011.  And it will be LeBron James who shoulders the majority of the criticism no matter how well he plays if the Heat do not capture a ring in June.  I guess that is the life of a King.  Things are great when you are winning.  Things are horrible when you are losing.  The life of a King is bittersweet. Continue reading

Food for Thought 5-15-2012

Photo courtesy of clippers.topbuzz.com. Chris Paul (left) and Blake Griffin (right) are two of the main reasons why the Clippers currently find themselves in the Western Conference Semifinals. Can they advance to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history?

By Josh Kramer

The opening round brought the city of Los Angeles to a fever pitch.  Round two will bring heartbreak.  In a little over a week, people will be referring to Los Angeles as “Heartbreak City,” rather than “Basketball Central.”  Even if you are not a fan of the Lakers or the Clippers, you have to admit that an all LA Western Conference Finals showdown would be special.  “Lob City” versus the Kobe Bryant Show.  What could be better than that?

Unfortunately, I am going to go out on a limb and say that it isn’t going to happen.  This is not the same Lakers team that made three consecutive finals appearances from 2008 to 2010.  They are full of flaws, lacking the effort and determination to lay it all on the line every night. The Clippers are not only tired and injury riddled, they are overmatched against a very experienced and well coached San Antonio team.  Gregg Popovich is arguably the best in the business for a reason.

Kobe Bryant will have to play out of this world for LA to stretch this series more than five games.  The Nuggets made the Lakers look like they were standing still at times during the opening round.  What do you think the Thunder are going to do?  Not to mention the Thunder are much bigger inside than the Nuggets with Ibaka and a now healthy Perkins.  I tip my hat to the Clippers on taking down a very good Grizzlies team.  But the Spurs are even better than Memphis.  Plus, both of the star players on the Clippers are currently struggling with various injuries.

It has been a great year for Los Angeles in terms of NBA basketball.  As a consolation prize though, the Kings appear unstoppable in terms of the NHL and the Dodgers currently boast the best record in the National League.  In terms of basketball though, Los Angeles should start thinking about the 2012/2013 season. Continue reading

Throwback Saturday Part XVI

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. A year ago, Rashard Mendenhall (pictured above) made some inappropriate comments on Twitter. The importance of Twitter in sports continues to grow by the day.

By Josh Kramer

We have reached the four-month anniversary of “Throwback Saturdays.”  This is a day where we reflect on what was going on in the wide world of sports one year ago and two years ago.  In addition, it is an opportunity to see just how right or wrong I was at the time in my analysis.  So what was happening on May 5, 2011?  How about on May 5, 2012?  Let’s find out.

One year ago..

Twitter: A Best Friend or Worst Enemy of Athletes

Here is a snippet..

For the athletic forum, Twitter can also be a great thing.   People are able to receive news instantaneously from millions of sources.  In addition, people are able to interact with players, coaches, and various sports personalities through “tweets.”  What could be better than creating a way for fans to actually relate with the athletes they idolize and cheer for?  Guys like Chad Ochocinco have used the Twitter world and the whole forum of social media to their advantage increasing their popularity exponentially.  The majority of athletes have caught on to this by now and are doing what they can to create a greater appeal to a larger fan base via Twitter.

Some guys just don’t get it though.  And there is one guy that comes to mind when I think of those that are “Twitter Incompetent.”

Rashard Mendenhall.

Now, Mendenhall has turned into a fine running back that played a key role in leading the Steelers to an AFC Championship this past year.  But boy has he struggled with his utilization of the Twitter World.  First he made comments backing up already hotly contested comments by fellow NFL Player Adrian Peterson, which compared NFL Players to slaves.  Now he has spoken out against Americans celebrating the death of Osama.  Talk about two heavy topics to hit on the wrong end of the stick (To finish read this post, click this link). Continue reading