Thursday, February 14, 2013

Heat 110 Thunder 100

6 Thoughts

1) Rematch of last year's Finals and this season's Christmas Day game...annnnd, STILLLL HEAVYWEIGHHTTT CHAMPIONS OF THE WORRRLLLDDD, THE MI-AM-I HEAAAATTTT!!!  We ruined Russell Westbrook's summer, we ruined his Christmas, and now we ruined his Valentines Day!  How sweet it is!  C'mon, c'mon: leggo!  Let it fly!!!

2) This was an absolute knockout from beginning to end, Miami went deep into the heart of Texas, or Arkansas, or wherever Oklahoma City is, and blew the Thunder off the court.  Kevin Durant tacked on 22 points in garbage time - which was the entire fourth quarter - to make the final score appear closer than the game actually was.  It's just one game, of course, except that now Miami has beaten OKC in "just one game" six straight times, and two of the last three have been total blowouts.  And we didn't even have to use Mike Miller tonight, it never became necessary - he's for big games only!...We've said this so many times, in so many ways: the biggest problem for OKC is that KJ James can handle Kevin Durant a little bit defensively.  No one can stop Kevin Durant.  But KJ can make him work - Durant missed his first 7 shots tonight and Miami blew out to a double digit lead that they would never really relinquish.  But on the other end, Durant, who is a very good defender, can't really handle KJ.  Durant got two early fouls again tonight - a theme when they play Miami - and to be honest, KJ didn't really even have to work too hard tonight, he didn't go to his "playoff" offense, his mid-post game.  He never needed to - he stood up top and made jumpers, and found open shooters.  In 40 calm, focused minutes, he scored 39 points on 14-24, and had 12 rebounds, and 7 assists.  He made a 30 foot triple.  He had a ridiculous late-shot-clock-out-of-bounds-play-step-to-the-rim-and-slam-the-lob.  He had an offensive rebound and putback where his headband got knocked off, but no foul was called.  Any time OKC even remotely threatened to make a move back into the game, KJ made a play and squelched it.  Kevin Durant is great, he's easily the second best player in the league.  But KJ James is better.  Not only that: KJ James has more hair!  I see you, Kevin Durant, just cuz you got a dark skull doesn't mean I can't see that shine coming through on the top of yo' head!  KJ may be receding back, but you are getting patchy all over.  Shave it off, boy, SHAVE IT OFF!!!

3) After KJ James, the next biggest problem for OKC in this matchup is that every time they play, Chris Bosh decides to play defense.  It's like he saves all his defensive energy for two regular season games, plus however long the Finals go (it's tough to see anyone but these two teams matching up again this year).  Chris had 12 rebounds, which is usually about a week and a half's worth for him, and a lot of them were effort rebounds in traffic.  He had 2 steals.  He blocked a Serge Ibaka dunk, and he blocked two layups by the unbelievably unlikable Russell Westbrook.  Hey, Furious Boy, Happy Valentines Day: Chris Bosh just kissed two of your layups into the eighth row!...Bosh also drew a charge on Durant, who along with Wesbrook probably would have fouled out halfway through the third quarter if the refs hadn't taken mercy on OKC (more on that in #4).  Chris played with tremendous energy on the defensive end - he was the biggest reason OKC shot 44% from the floor (and a lot of those buckets were giveaways late).  Not only that, but he took apart anyone OKC threw at him: Ibaka, Perkins, Collison (black dudes, white dudes - it didn't matter), and finished 10-14 for 20 points, including a dunk at the halftime buzzer on a fantastic inbounds play where he darted across the lane, sealed his guy on his hip, caught a 40 foot inbounds pass, and quickly flushed it to put Miami up 17 at half.  I mean, you watch him night in and night out, and I think it is fair to say that he does not always bring it.  But when he brings it, not a lot of guys can get to his level, and certainly not Serge Ibaka, who scored 6 points and had 6 rebounds.  Bosh is Miami's third best player; Ibaka is OKC's third best player now that James Harden is gone.  If Bosh continues to outplay Ibaka this badly, it's going to be tough for OKC to beat Miami in a series.

4) Play of the game: probably in the first half when TNT announcer Steve Kerr claimed that "these fans remind me of Utah."  Haaa!!!  Yes!!! Very, very white; very, very angry; and not very knowledgeable about basketball!!!  As Miami was beginning to blow OKC off its own floor in the second quarter, Kevin Durant and the rest of the Thunder lost their cool a little bit.  It happens.  Durant slapped the floor and got a technical (very weak technical by the way), and then went hurtling blindly and recklessly for an offensive rebound into Chris Birdman's back (Hubie-ism), and took a hard fall.  If anything, it was a foul on Durant, and the refs called nothing, but the crowd went bananas, coming very strong with a creative "refs, you suck" chant!  It was a heightened atmosphere for a few moments there, I'm not gonna lie - I felt a little worried for the refs, and especially Danny Crawford and Sean Corbin.  Draw your own conclusions why.  Crawford and Corbin, and their buddy Kevin Fehr (balder than both KJ and KD, for the record), responded by instantly calling about 12 straight fouls on Miami to try to ease the tension.  That's life in the NBA - you get up big on the road, and the crowd gets angry, you know a bunch of calls are going the other way (it was that way all night, OKC shot 34 free throws to Miami's 22, and a bunch of Miami's were intentional fouls at the end - OKC shot twice as many, essentially).  As a fan, you understand it, but it's frustrating...but as the camera panned the Heat bench, there they were smiling and laughing, having a grand old time - they couldn't have looked more relaxed!  The fans were flipping out, Durant and Westbrook were flipping out, the refs were flipping out, but KJ, Battier, Dwyane, et al - they were just laughing.  It's not their first time at the rodeo, you know?
5) Look, we all have mixed feelings about Chris Bosh. Some times, like tonight, he is absolutely terrific - it is hard to imagine the Heat could have won the championship last year without his outstanding defense and overall effort in the latter stages of the playoffs. At other times, he seems passive, disengaged, and a little loopy, annnd plays defense like a statue. But no one's feelings about Chris Bosh are quite as mixed as The Captain's. Here is what he told me one day this week at Dos Minutos International Headquarters:
"I had a dream last night and you were in it! We were at a waterpark, and we were walking around, going on rides, and then we went to the locker room to take showers. I was showering in an individual shower stall, with only a curtain drawn across the door. You know how sometimes you get the feeling someone is watching you? All of a sudden I got that feeling, I could feel someone was watching me, and I could sense that the person was very, very tall. I look over, and it's Chris Bosh standing there, looking at me. He was wearing his "red hot" uniform that the Heat have been wearing lately. I kind of understood to get out of the stall so that he could shower, and then I sat in the locker room waiting for another shower to open up. What do you think about that?"
Ahh, seems perfectly normal, I wouldn't worry about it at all. Your hour's up, see you next week. Please take care of your co-pay with the receptionist on the way out…
6) This is one of my favorite rap songs of recent years. Surprising, too. I mean we all know what a great rapper Nas is, but who knew Adam Duritz from the Counting Crows could spit it like this? Check it out:

Big, big, BIG doings this weekend: Mario Chalmers' jersey gets retired at the University of Kansas!  Oh yeah, I think it's also All-Star Weekend...that means this blog is on vacation!  We don't play again until next Wednesday in the ATL.  If you need me before then, I'm not sure what I will be doing, but I can absolutely promise you that it will not involve either waterparks, or The Captain...Happy All-Stars, everybody! #Champs