2012 Eastern and Western Finals Preview

Thanks to Memorial Day weekend, this preview was delayed a few days so many apologies. However, those extra few days have done nothing to change the predictions for both series.

HEAT-CELTICS

The Celtics have been resilient enough to knock off two young and athletic teams. Their veteran savvy and experience have instilled great team pride and effort. However, they are now facing an even more athletic team in the Heat and one that has taken their play to the next level – most notably because of their two superstars Lebron James and Dwyane Wade.

The Celtics were stretched to six games by the Hawks and seven games by the inferior Sixers which begs to ask, how much gas is left in their aging tanks? It’s one thing to battle test a young or moderately young team, but this gang is too old where rest is more crucial to their banged-up stars than intense games. While Kevin Garnett is playing a decade younger, the seriousness of Ray Allen’s gimpy ankle is making him a non-factor and one can’t depend on Paul Pierce at this phase to cover the slack and put up 40 points every other night – especially considering his own balky knee. Rajon Rondo may save the day for a game or two, but other than that, there’s not much hope it seems.

On the other side, the Heat have gelled under traumatic circumstances – meaning adjusting to the loss of Chris Bosh. Both Lebron and Wade have been able to go into superstar mode while still being team players and no team can match that. While Bosh isn’t there to counter Garnett, Lebron and Wade can take care of their sizeable advantage on the perimeter and take turns controlling the game. The Heat can now play with or without Bosh and appear to be rejuvenated and focused again. Lebron has proved to be no fluke of an MVP with his brilliant performances in the prior round and overall consistency in the playoffs. Plus, he always seems to turn it up against the Celtics and Pierce. The Heat are just better, generally healthier and hungrier overall. They should take care of Boston in 5 games and move on to the finals.

SPURS-THUNDER

This is the real finals of the 2012 season. With the two top teams finally facing each other, the winner of this series will likely be the NBA champion.

The Thunder represent the best of the current style of ball. They have an athletic point guard who can score, a pure scoring superstar, a sixth man who can dominate from outside and with passing and penetration, a decent inside presence in Kendrick Perkins for defense, and a great mid-range cleaner in Serge Ibaka who can block shots. Although they are not as experienced compared to the other elite teams, they are young, explosive, hungry and near perfect. Yet, all these aren’t good enough because the Spurs are actually perfect.

The Thunder also can be criticized for allowing Russell Westbrook to be a little trigger happy. While he can get 30 points on 12-22 shooting, he can also easily go 6-17 and disrupt the shooting balance that a point guard must manage for the team. While Westbrook has won games with his scoring, he is a flawed point guard because too many times, he shoots first before anyone else touches the ball. This might work when your shot is on against an even more flawed team such as the Lakers, but against a perfectly balanced team such as the Spurs, Westbrook must play more like Tony Parker – that is, attack when you have the spacing, but look for the right play at all other times.

The Spurs, other than chasing perfection, are also superior in that they have a true post presence – Tim Duncan – who also happens to be the game’s greatest active player. They also have the game’s greatest active coach in Gregg Popovich who seems to have evolved with the team as it has aged and acquired new players. The Spurs have gone 31-2 in their last 33 games which not even MJ’s 72-win Bulls can match going into the post-season. In fact, these Spurs might just be the best team we have seen since the MJ era and Shaq’s Lakers. And the main reasons are because they have veteran leadership, chemistry and poise which equate to perfect team play. No one complains about their roles, the brilliant Duncan has molded his game to match the skills of the new players around him unlike other aging superstars who won’t due to sensitive egos, and the entire staff appears to be as humble and team oriented in the same way. The Spurs are a beautiful team to watch and one whose balanced style should excite the senses as much as Lebron’s dunks or Durant’s pure shooting. Perhaps the great Tim Duncan still being the centerpiece while winning a fifth championship will open people’s eyes as to how much they have taken his greatness and this team for granted. If this team stays healthy, they can win two more championships even with Duncan at ages 36 and 37 as the perimeters can take more of the load as needed. The Spurs should advance to the finals in 5 games.

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2 Responses to “2012 Eastern and Western Finals Preview”

  1. Great breakdown Hoops. So far these series have lived up to the hype. Anyway, here’s to hoping Boston takes out Miami!

  2. Agreed. But it seems Spurs might finish Thunder in 6. Miami and Celtics extends to 7

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