Are the 2012 NBA finals good versus evil?

LeBron JamesThe annual NBA passion play is about to start. I’m talking, of course, about the NBA Finals. This years version has Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh reprising their role as villains and Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook will step in as the basketball savior.

The story goes something like this: the Heat are the basketball equivalent of the Death Star, wreaking havoc throughout the NBA Universe. If they are allowed to win an NBA title all hell will break loose and their reign of terror will last forever. Everything that is good and holy is at stake.

The Miami Heat has assembled a team of mercenaries with a singular focus: bring a title home to the Evil Empire…I mean South Beach. They have stockpiled a team of supreme talent fragile egos that has been the scourge of the NBA. The OKC Thunder, on the other hand, has quietly built a championship-caliber the old-fashioned way, through the draft and nurturing young talent.

It’s a classic tale of good and evil, right and wrong. Read more here…

What’s wrong with the Miami Heat?

The Miami Heat are in big trouble. Not only are they on the verge of being eliminated from the NBA playoffs by the Boston Celtics but they are on the verge of being dismantled.

After losing Game 5 at home last night, the Heat have been subject to even more scrutiny than usual and no one is safe.

Most of the criticism has been aimed at head coach Erik Spoelstra. There is no doubt that he has made mistakes and has been out coached. Not playing Chris Bosh down the stretch in the fourth quarter might have sealed his fate. Even if Bosh wasn’t 100% you still have to put him out there to give yourself a chance to win. Like most of his team, he seems to fold under pressure. I can’t tell if he is infecting the team or they are infecting him. No matter what happens, Coach Spo will probably not be back next season. But you can’t blame everything on him.

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade deserve some blame, too. Both of them will disappear for stretches at a time. LeBron has always had a weak psyche. When the team is winning he is the first one out there posing and preening for the cameras but when they are losing he sulks and seemingly gives up. He’s like the bully who finally gets punched in the mouth and runs off crying. The whole team is like that. Read more here…

Random thoughts on the NBA Playoffs so far, looking ahead

After watching the Clippers outscore the Spurs by 22 points in the first quarter of Game Three of their playoff series, it appeared, if ever so briefly, that San Antonio was not as invincible as everyone thought.  Then we saw them retaliate with a 50-17 run of their own and realized, perhaps they are.

At only 23 years old each, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are disturbingly good.  The Los Angeles Lakers had to play their very best just to be able to stay on the same floor as them.  The future of the league is in good hands.

Read more here…

Can the Heat win without Chris Bosh?

Miami Heat40 points, 18 rebounds, and 9 assists. Those are the legendary numbers of one, LeBron James in the game four win over the Pacers on Sunday. Dwayne Wade’s game wasn’t too shabby either. After starting 1-8, D Wade finished 13-23 for 30 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists. The dynamic duo of LeBron and Wade at one point in the game accounted for 38 consecutive points. The remarkable statistics listed before you lead me to another one. The Heat only won the game by 8 points, and really it was a lot closer than that in the final minutes. While this series versus the Pacers may be saved for the Heat, the season can only be saved by one person. Chris Bosh.

The Pacers have proven to be an extremely tough team, pushing the Heat to the brink in the first four games of the Eastern semi-finals. They have taken major advantage of the Heat inside on offense, with the combination of Roy Hibbert and David West, and stacked the middle on the defensive side. There has been very limited space for two of the big three to do what they do, in the absence of their third. With Bosh, they have the ability to run a real pick and roll. One where the screener can actually score, and not be abandoned by the defense. Having Bosh on floor forces the opponents big man to guard him on the permiter, which allows the space needed for LeBron and D Wade to do what they do.

What will happen if Miami has to face the top notch teams, such as, Boston, San Antonio, or Oklahoma City without Bosh? If you ask me, lose. As if those well coached teams would need a blue print to beat a Boshless Heat squad, they got one any way. The Heat cannot rely on all-time performances from LeBron and Wade every game for the rest of the playoffs. To say they need Bosh, is puting it lightly. If the ultimate goal of the Heat is to make it to the promise land, which it is, they will not survive without the third member of the big three.

Zack Leiken is a writer for The Sports Blitz Network and can be contacted at ZLeiken@TheSportsBlitz.com

Does Bosh injury give the Miami Heat a pass?

LeBon JamesWe all know that the Miami Heat has self proclaimed to be the dream team… if you don’t remember the quote…Lebron James said, “Not 2, not 3, not 4, not 5, not 6, not 7. Hey, and when I say that when I say that, I really believe it. I’m not just up here blowing smoke at none of these fans, because that’s not what I’m about. I’m about business. And we believe we can win multiple championships.” I understand the confidence, you don’t want to come to a new team and say that you will try to win one championship. You want to win multiple, you want to be borderline arrogant with your statement. The Miami Heat disposed of the New York Knicks this playoff season in dominate fashion. Although it should have been a sweep, the Knicks posed no threat, due to multiple injuries and chemistry issues. Now the Heat are faced with an intriguing matchup. The Indiana Pacers are a different type of team, no superstars, nothing flashy, just basketball. How will they do? Read more here…

Could the Miami Heat trade Bosh for Dwight Howard?

Miami Heat Big 3

Miami Heat Big 3The Miami Heat are built to win now and as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade grow older their time to win those seven championships begins to fade away.

Chris Bosh may be the weakest link of the trio of stars for the Heat. In fact, he is so much of a weak link, that he will be traded for sure by the middle of next season.

A trade that makes sense for the Heat would be trading for Dwight Howard and creating possibly the best team of all-time.

As great as LeBron is and has been, even the King will wear down over time.  Dwayne Wade has already shown the propensity for wearing down, with occasional stints on the DL or little injuries that cause burnout.

These two guys are the greatest two athletes on any NBA team, or were they?  OKC has something to say about it.

Durant and Westbrook look like a shoe-in to play the Heat in the Finals.  They might be the best pair of athletes and basketball players to grace the NBA this year over Wade and James.

And, their surrounding crew is more impressive than the Heat’s.  They have all the details needed for a championship run.

They have perennial 6th Man of the Year candidate, James Harden, an enforcer in Kendrick Perkins, the leading shot-blocker in Serge Ibaka and a bench with all sorts of role players, including a tall, wiry white-guy willing to do his best Kurt Rambis imitation, Nick Collison.

The Thunder are dialed in and wired for a horse race to the finish line.  They’ve covered all the basics and don’t appear to have any obvious weaknesses.  They even lead the league in free-throw percentage.

The threat of the Capital city to thwart Miami in the Finals is a likely possibility, unless Bosh can learn to play like he used to when he had dreads.

He doesn’t have time enough to get the free-flowing braids back for the playoffs, though, so Miami’s chances don’t look good.

Bosh has not worked out in the Heat’s favor like they thought he would.  Maybe he has nice numbers; he’s averaging 18 and 8.  But, for 16 million a year, it seems like something’s missing besides the hair.

Could Dwight Howard end up in a Miami Heat uniform next year, with Bosh and others (maybe Chalmers) going to Orlando?

As next season pushes through towards the trade deadline, this scenario could become more likely.

Howard and James need their hardware and Wade understands that they are the best out there at their positions, so, of course, he’s all-in with them.

All of this pressure is simmering up just because some GM in tornado alley figured out how to assemble a great professional team around all-Pro Kevin Durant.

Some players would refuse to play in low-profile cities, like LeBron in Cleveland, Chris Paul in New Orleans or how Howard treats Orlando.

Durant is putting OKC on the map like David Robinson did with San Antonio and Karl Malone did with Utah.

Be sure to check out other great articles from Howard Alperin at AmericanizeSoccer.com.

Did expectations finally get the best of Jeremy Lin?

Jeremy LinWas it finally too much for Jeremy Lin? As the expectations continued to climb Lin finally fell short, or did he?

It was the first game Lin picked up his dribble when the opposing defense attacked and to make matters worse he seemed out of control at times rushing down the lane.

The buildup for the New York Knicks and Jeremy Lin were at all-time levels as they took on the Miami Heat.  Tickets were being sold at double the prices of an NBA Finals game as fans filled the American Airlines Arena.

While offense was on everyone’s mind to start the game it was the defense of Joel Anthony, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh that made the difference as the Heat knocked off Carmello Anthony and the Knicks.

Everyone tuned in to see Jeremy Lin but if this was his stage to shine, he blew his chance.

Lin was horrific from the field going 1-10 and at times throwing up shots that didn’t have a chance.

In his previous games one of his strengths was his display of court vision and the ability to see the open man. Things did not go his way tonight as he forced the pass and racked up eight turnovers in the loss.

It wasn’t all Lin’s fault as the Knicks didn’t have an offensive rebound in the entire third quarter when they were outscored  29-19.

Steve Novak and JR Smith came in off the bench and gave the Knicks a spark including Novak hitting four straight three-point shots, but still would not be enough.

Is this finally the end of Linsanity? Or is this just a road bump in the eventual trip to his ultimate goal of becoming one the leagues best?

Miami Heat: Three’s a crowd

Miami Heat Big 3A little over a year ago the Miami Heat built what looked to be an unbeatable team. Collecting Chris Bosh and LeBron James to compliment Dwyane Wade looked to be the perfect combination of players.

They did find some success last year, as they made it to the Finals, but after all the buzz they generated at the beginning of the year it was really championship or bust. They came into this year with a lot less pressure on them with the lockout and trade talk taking up most of the spotlight in this short offseason, but the Heat will tell you this year is no different than last year, and a championship is expected.

The Heat have been a little unfortunate this year because one of their “Big Three” has been injured in almost all their games. Wade has missed most of their games with his nagging ankle injury, but it doesn’t seem to be slowing the Heat down. If anything it has given them more balance and gives LeBron the ability to dominate like he did in Cleveland. The Heat improved to 6-0 without Wade, and LeBron seems to be enjoying the freedom to take his shots and not worry about Wade getting his.

I always questioned how harmoniously these three would be able to play together. Last year they looked rocky, and now the debate for this year is if everyone’s healthy who takes the big shot in the fourth quarter? Placing three of the game’s biggest stars on the same team seems like a no-brainer way to win a championship, but the Heat didn’t take into account the personalities of the stars they collected.

Wade has proven he can play with other stars when he won the championship in 2006 with Shaq. LeBron is more comfortable when he is the undisputed best player on histeam; because he likes playing with the mindset of I need to take this game over for us to win. Bosh seems to be like LeBron and enjoys playing for a team in which he has the freedom to do whatever he wants out there like he had in Toronto.

It’s hard to say the Heat are a better team without Wade, but LeBron and Bosh definitely are better players without him. Clearly, seeing both of them seem to be playing with more confidence and desire since he went down, as opposed to the lost puppy look the two of them get when Wade joins them in the line-up.

It would be very difficult for the Heat to justify trading away their original star in Wade, who led Miami to their franchise’s first ever championship, but it looks more and more like Wade has become the third wheel in this relationship.

Be sure to check out other great articles at isportsweb.