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    Matt Cain pitched the 22nd perfect game in MLB history, and the first ...

Miami Takes Game 2, Evens NBA Finals

Posted by David Merrell On June - 15 - 2012 Comments Off on Miami Takes Game 2, Evens NBA Finals

    Lebron James got the help he needed, and the Miami Heat held on to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder 100-96 on Thursday night to even up the NBA Finals. James finished the game with 32 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists to pace the Heat. Dwayne Wade bounced back from a lackluster game 1 to finish with 24 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists. The Finals now head to Miami for the next three games. The Heat can win the title without having to play another road game if they sweep the three games at home.

    Miami got off to a fantastic start, and led 18-2 at one point in the first quarter. OKC couldn’t buy a bucket in the early going, and the Heat were ultra aggressive. Wade’s energy level was noticeably higher than in game 1. The Heat were getting into the passing lanes and contesting nearly every shot. Shane Battier helped pad the early led with a few early threes, continuing his hot shooting from the past few games.

    Chris Bosh returned to the starting lineup, and had his best game since returning from injury. Bosh scored 16 points and grabbed 15 big rebounds. If Miami is to remain competitive in this series, they will need more big play out of the third member of the big three.

    Throughout the game, the Thunder continued to chip away at the lead. Every time they got close, Miami would push them back down. OKC finally got within striking distance in the fourth quarter. With less than 20 seconds left, the Thunder were down two with the ball. Kevin Durant got the ball along the baseline, and attempted a fade away jumper against Lebron James. There was a lot of contact, and he missed the shot. Though he was pleading with the officials after the fact, no call was made, and Miami got the rebound. James sunk to clutch free throws and the game was essentially over.

    Durant finished with 32 points on 12-22 shooting. He launched 10 three pointers, of which he made 4. Russell Westbrook had 27 points on 10-26 shooting. He also had 8 rebounds and 7 assists. Some of Westbrook’s ill-advised shots really hurt the Thunder, particularly his numerous pull up jumpers. To often he would dribble the ball up the court and take a pull up jumper early in the shot clock. These possessions disrupted the Thunder’s rhythm.

    James Harden bounced back from a quiet game to score 21 points in game 2. The reigning Sixth Man of the Year showed deadly accuracy, going 7-11 from the floor. His 21 points represented the majority of the 23 OKC’s bench scored. Derek Fisher netted the other two points.

    Game 3 is Sunday night in Miami. OKC has to come out of the gate stronger, as falling behind is not a recipe for success against Miami. The Heat are a great front running team. The led game 2 wire to wire. OKC can not hope to keep coming from behind as they did in game 1. The Heat have to replicate the effort the put forth in game 2. They played at nearly the top of their game, and it took every bit of their effort. Miami can not afford anymore off games from any member of the big three. If they relent for even a stretch of one game, the Thunder will pounce.

    A lot of basketball analysts say that a series doesn’t truly begin until a team wins on the road. We have now met that criteria in this year’s Finals. The Thunder lost their first home game of these playoffs. How they respond in game 3 will go a long way in showing what kind of team they are.

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Durant Leads Thunder To Victory In Game One Of Finals

Posted by David Merrell On June - 13 - 2012 Comments Off on Durant Leads Thunder To Victory In Game One Of Finals

    Kevin Durant scored 36 points in Oklahoma City’s 105-94 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. The NBA scoring champ overcame a shaky first half in which the Heat were on fire from beyond the arc. The Thunder exhibited their typical tenacious nature, and earned a thrilling come from behind victory to strike first in this NBA Finals.

    Miami jumped on top early and led by as many as 13 points in the first half. Shane Battier was an early catalyst, drilling three pointers to help Miami build its early lead. The former Duke star finished 4-6 from downtown. Mario Chalmers nailed a few early threes as well, and Miami looked like the sharper team in the early going.

    As expected, the Thunder went on a run, and by halftime they had trimmed the lead to 7. In the third quarter, Durant and Russell Westbrook took over. The superstar duo outscored the entire Heat team in the second half. Miami had no answer for the tandem, and the Thunder grabbed their first lead in the closing moments of the third quarter.

    In the fourth, OKC extended their lead behind Durant’s clutch scoring. In the final period, the NBA scoring champion outscored league MVP Lebron James 17-7. James has a reputation for disappearing in the fourth, and though that wasn’t necessarily the case last night, he did not rise to Durant’s challenge. The Thunder lead continued to grow throughout the fourth, and Miami was never able to get back into the game.

    Lebron finished with 30 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists. After averaging 18 points a game in the Finals last year, his performance last night was a good sign. However, he is going to need a lot more help if the Heat are to stand a chance in this series. The Heat bench scored a total of 12 points, with 10 coming from Chris Bosh, who is usually a starter. Dwayen Wade finished with 19 points on 7-19 shooting, numbers that will not get it done against the mighty Thunder.

    Russell Westbrook had a fantastic game, finishing with 27 points, 11 assists, and 8 rebounds. His jumper was not on (he missed all four of his three point shots), but Westbrook stayed aggressive and distributed the ball well. If he and Durant continue to play at this level, it is going to be a short series.

    As expected, the role players of OKC thoroughly outplayed their Miami counterparts. With the exception of Shane Battier, no Heat role played had a significant impact on the game. The Thunder got great play out of several role players, including Nick Collison, who notched 8 points and 10 rebounds. Collison’s ability to get to loose balls has been a big plus for the Thunder.

    OKC won a game by double digits in which James Harden only scored 5 points. That is another bad sign for Miami, as Harden is capable of lighting up the scoreboard like his other two star teammates. As I stated in my prediction article, the Thunder are simply to deep for the Heat. They didn’t need that depth in game one, as Durant and Westbrook caught fire, but over the course of a seven game series guys like Ibaka, Collison, and Thabo Sefolosha are going to make a big difference.

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NBA Finals Preview

Posted by David Merrell On June - 12 - 2012 Comments Off on NBA Finals Preview

    The match up experts were picking before the season has finally materialized, and the Oklahoma City Thunder will battle the Miami Heat for the NBA title starting tonight on ABC. There is no shortage of story lines. Lebron vs Durant. OKC’s big three vs Miami’s big three. Sports writers should have no shortage of material over the next two weeks.

    The Thunder are listed as slight favorites, and justifiably so. OKC is younger, more athletic, and much better shooters. Miami has the defensive advantage, as well as Finals experience. Thus far, OKC has looked more impressive in these playoffs. The Thunder had to topple three former champions in order to reach the Finals. It was one of the more impressive runs in recent playoff history.

    The Thunder’s victory over the San Antonio Spurs was particularly impressive. OKC dropped the first two games of the series in San Antonio before storming back to win four straight. That feat was even more impressive when you consider the Spurs were riding a 20 game winning streak with their win in game two. In that series, OKC hit better than 50% on their jump shots. They were on fire, and when they shoot that well, non one can beat them.

    Kevin Durant emerged against the Spurs as a stone cold shooter in the clutch. He dominated fourth quarters, and shined under pressure. At roughly 6’11” he is to tall for anyone to stop on their own on the perimeter. The series changed, though, when Durant began to distribute the ball with stunning efficiency. When the Spurs doubled him, Durant found the open man and made them pay. San Antonio was forced to pick their poison, and in the end none of the choices were survivable.

    The most watched player in this series will be Lebron James. Lebron had a very disappointing performance in the Finals last year against the Dallas Mavericks, and many blamed him for the heavily favored Heat losing. He has been sensational this year in the playoffs. Against the Celtics he had one of the greatest games in playoff history in game six, registering 45 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 assists. No one outside of Wilt Chamberlain has had a stat line like that before.

    The problem for the Heat will not be Lebron this year. The cast around him is just not good enough to overcome the Thunder. Dwayne Wade is banged up, suffering from a knee injury. Chris Bosh just recently returned from an abdominal strain, and though he had a great game seven against the Celtics, there is no telling what he will be able to bring to the table.

    Even if the big three shake off their injuries, the rest of the cast is simply inferior to what OKC has to offer. Depth may be the difference as the respective big threes cancel each other out. OKC has plenty of talent behind their big three in Serge Ibaka, Thabo Sefolosha, Derek Fisher, Nick Collison, and Kendrick Perkins. Ibaka played a particularly important role in dispatching the Spurs, going 11-11 from the field in one of the games.

    Baring a shooting slump from the Thunder, which is entirely possibly for a team that relies so heavily on the jumper, they should win this series. My official pick is for the Thunder to take it in six games. Against San Antonio, I thought Durant ascended to championship level play. He showed that extra gear that all the greats have. I believe it will be on display again in the Finals. He will need every bit of effort he has, because I also believe Lebron is going to have a sensational series. It should be a great series. The Finals begin tonight at 8:00 PM on ABC.

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NBA Finals Set

Posted by David Merrell On June - 10 - 2012 Comments Off on NBA Finals Set

    The NBA Finals begin on Tuesday, and we now know who the participants will be. The Miami Heat will face the Oklahoma City Thunder in a match up many basketball experts predicted at the beginning of the season. The Finals will pit the top two MVP candidates from the regular season against each other in Lebron James, who won the award, and second place finisher Kevin Durant. The 23 year old Durant has won the last 3 NBA scoring titles.

    The Heat advanced to the Finals by defeating the Boston Celtics in a grueling 7 game series, with the finale taking place last night. The Heat used a late scoring barrage to bury the Celtics after the game went to the 4th quarter tied up. OKC reached their first finals as a franchise (discounting their time in Seattle as the Supersonics) by defeating the San Antonio Spurs in an exciting 6 game series.

    The series will feature a pair of “Big 3s” that power each team. OKC is led by Kevin Durant, star point guard Russell Westbrook, and reigning 6th man of the year James Hardin. Miami’s second straight trip to the Finals is led by Lebron James, 2006 Finals MVP Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh.

    The Heat have been favored to win the title all year, but the odds may be turning against them now. The Thunder looked very impressive in dispatching the Spurs, overcoming a 2-0 series deficit and ending the Spurs 20 game winning streak. Kevin Durant was sensational, taking over 4th quarters and performing admirably in the clutch. The Thunder roll players have really stepped up this post season, especially power forward Serge Ibaka.

    With all of the marque names competing, this series should prove very exciting. We will either see Lebron James finally get his first ring, or watch as Kevin Durant surpasses him, and rises to the top of the NBA. There is no shortage of drama attached to this year’s NBA championship. The Finals begin Tuesday at 8:00 PM Central Time on ABC.

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Miami Heat Star Chris Bosh Out Indefinitely

Posted by David Merrell On May - 14 - 2012 Comments Off on Miami Heat Star Chris Bosh Out Indefinitely

    The Miami Heat suffered a major blow to their title chances when star power forward Chris Bosh suffered an abdominal strain midway through their game 1 victory over the Indiana Pacers. Bosh was going up for a dunk when he was fouled, his body twisted in a weird way. He went down and struggled to get back up. After attempting to play through the pain he was forced to return to the locker room.

    An MRI today revealed the strain, and Bosh is listed out out indefinitely. Miami has been the clear favorites to win the NBA title this year. Their one weakness has been their post play, with Bosh being their only stand out post player. With him out for a number of games, the Heat are in real trouble. The Pacers played them tough yesterday, and their physical front line will now be an even bigger advantage.

    The injury could open the door for the Pacers, an underrated team that was one of the NBA’s best over the last 20 games. The Boston Celtics are also lurking, powered by a rejuvenated Kevin Garnett and the standout play of point guard Rajon Rondo. If Bosh is out for the remainder of this series, it will take a Herculean effort from Lebron James and Dwayne Wade to beat the Pacers. If he misses the Eastern Conference finals, a win over Boston (who is likely to beat the 76ers in their semifinal matchup) would prove even more difficult.

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West Wins NBA All Star Game

Posted by David Merrell On February - 27 - 2012 Comments Off on West Wins NBA All Star Game

    The Western Conference All Stars won a shootout over the East 152 to 149. Kevin Durant took home the MVP trophy by leading the West with 36 points. Kobe Bryant passed Michael Jordan on the All Star game all time scoring list. He finished with 27 points. The Eastern Conference All Stars were led by Lebron James who had 36 points, including 6-8 on 3 pointers. Dwayne Wade finished with just the 3rd triple double in All Star game history.

    The West took an early lead and never trailed. The East fell behind by as many as 21 points before making one last charge in the 4th quarter. They pulled within one and even had a chance to take the lead before Dwayne Wade made a crucial turnover. The East had a final chance to tie the game with a 3, but Deron Williams heave fell short.

    The All Star game returned to Orlando for the first time since 1992. That game marked the return of Magic Johnson to the court following his retirement due his contraction of HIV. Magic was on hand to recount that memorable day with the TNT broadcasters in the pregame coverage. The All Star game brings the NBA All Star weekend to a close. The regular season starts back up on Tuesday.


Dallas Mavericks Win NBA Title

Posted by David Merrell On June - 13 - 2011 Comments Off on Dallas Mavericks Win NBA Title

    The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat 105-95 Sunday night to win the franchise’s first NBA title. The Mavs won the series 4 games to 2. Veteran superstars Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd both got their first championships. Dirk was named MVP of the finals. Miami’s infamous big 3 (Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh) were denied the title in their first season together.


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