The 2014 NBA Finals are upon us!!! This is a great time to reflect on the season that was; Cleveland lands Luol Deng & misses the Playoffs during a heartbreaking final week of the regular season. The Pistons add offseason excitement & questions with Josh Smith & Brandon Jennings… That didn’t work. The Houston Rockets made quite a run with new addition Dwight Howard… and James Harden still can’t play any defense. The Clippers had a remarkable season overshadowed by the fact that they have a racist owner. The “Splash Brothers” were born in Golden State… and then they fired Mark Jackson. The Indiana Pacers were like any average woman, they were good for 75% of the time… then “the week” happened; they got emotional, they got angry & the Pacers fell apart (advancing to the ECF isn’t bad, but a blowout loss in an elimination game, that’s “terrible”). The Oklahoma City Thunder fell short again after Kevin Durant finally got over the “2nd place” hump for the regular season MVP honor (and a great MVP speech!). San Antonio sat some starters, they rested up for the long haul, beat out KD & the Thunder in a very strange blow-out for the home team series (until game 6)… And then there’s Ol’ Faithful, LeBron James & his Miami Heat. Question marks loomed around them all season if they had what it takes to join the elite company of the 1957-66 Boston Celtics of Bill Russell & Bob Cousy, the 1982-1985 LA Lakers of Magic & Kareem, & the 1984-1987 Celtics of Larry Legend, Kevin McHale & Robert Parrish making Four, yes 4, straight NBA Finals appearances.
The Miami Heat have had their up’s & down’s. Dwayne Wade sat out a ton of games this year to rest a looming injury list the length of a biblical scroll. LeBron tantalized us with 61 points against the Bobcats on March 3rd & followed that up with three straight games totaling 58 points. The Heat added Greg Oden to bang inside with Roy Hibbert (crickets), Michael Beasley didn’t work, but the steady emergence of the Cleveland State Viking Norris Cole has been fantastic to watch. The Heat are following LeBron’s famed “not 1, not 2, not 3…” with yes, their 4th consecutive NBA Finals appearance, that’s something neither Michael, nor Kobe ever accomplished. Miami’s core of the “Big 3” has done it once again, adapting & surviving game after game, round after round.
The San Antonio Spurs took the “typical” route to The Finals. They had a strategic plan in place to give their elder statesmen rest throughout the year. That plan allowed guys like Kawhi Leonard & Patty Mills the time needed to be able to get even more comfortable within the Spurs “way”. They were scared by Dallas going all seven games, took advantage of a younger Portland squad in 5, mopped the floor winning 3 home games by more than 80 points with the Thunder & now get the opportunity to get back to The Finals & avenge the most heart wrenching 3-ball Ray Allen has ever hit.
I’m not going to guess at which team will win this series. I am going to enjoy (hopefully) all 7 games. I am going to enjoy one of the greatest franchises in the history of the game take on arguably the greatest player of all time. I will enjoy the re-vamped D-Wade & the new-look 15ft spot up Chris Bosh. I will watch Birdman bang inside with Tim Duncan as Timmy puts on a clinic every youngster should study. I will hang on every Tony Parker drive like water flowing down stream & every kick to the pride of Argentina Manu Ginobili.
I will enjoy The Finals, I suggest you do the same.
- A. Bellino