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17 posts from June 2012

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Things you should read about the champs

Weekend reading before Monday's parade...

LeBron James had to reinvent himself to win the title ... "James’ transformation as a man and his difficult journey to his first NBA championship made Thursday night’s celebration that much sweeter." Miami Herald

Burden finally lifted for Pat Riley, LeBron James and Heat ... "This buys us our freedom," Pat Riley says with a smile. "The things that locked them up? They evaporated tonight. Now we grow. Now we evolve. Now comes the fun. This finally allows these players to be free." Miami Herald

The many different scenes and perspectives from the championship locker room ... "For owner Micky Arison, winning in Dallas in 2006 “was great, but to do it in front of your home fans is the greatest feeling in the world. To get behind three series in a row – this is unbelievable! I thought we were the better team last year, but we weren’t ready.” Miami Herald

Air Force One on the line ... "President Obama said that the team seemed to get stronger in each game of the playoffs, and he complimented the performance of the players and coaches. He asked Spoelstra to tell the team that they are all invited to the White House, and he looks forward to celebrating their NBA championship." Miami Herald

Six years late, Dwyane Wade content with different role ... “I played a different role. I had to,” added Wade, who averaged 22.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.2 blocks and shot 43.5 percent in the Finals. “Last season, I felt it was too much questions in our mind, guys looking at each other and not wanting to step on each other’s toes. This year, I know I’m playing with the best player in the world, and that doesn’t take anything away from me at all. I’ve played with a guy who is a Hall of Famer, so I know how to be first, and I know how to be second and whatever else. It was hard for me to do it, and no one will understand, but it was easy for me to do it for this team.” Miami Herald

Thousands greeted Thunder in OKC ... Thousands of fans gathered in an impromptu celebration in a grass field near Will Rogers World Airport on Friday, cheering as players took turns at the microphone thanking them for their support. Associated Press

Dwyane Wade might miss Olympics if he needs knee surgery ... ''I've got to make a decision on what my knee needs and what's best, because my career and finishing my career strong is what's important to me,'' Wade said. ''And I know, yeah, the Olympics are coming up. It's something I really want to do. But at the same time, if I have to make a big decision, if something has to happen surgery-wise, that will have to be a step I have to take. My loyalty and my commitment to Miami Heat basketball is the No. 1 thing.'' Associated Press

LeBron's hard lesson ... YahooSports

Gabby Union said the Miami Zombie victim was the Magic City's biggest Heat fan, or something like that ... "The poor man who was a survivor of the bath salt attack [Ronald Poppo]. When they said, 'Anything you want to say?' He said, 'Let's go Heat!' It's about surviving and living for the next moment. If that man did not personify what that is, nothing will. Real Heat fans. Charles Barkley said we don’t have real Heat fans. Point to that man. We have real Heat fans.” Miami Herald

Friday, June 22, 2012

GAME 5: Heat 121, Thunder 106

NBA Champions!

What a magical night. LeBron James delivered his first triple-double of the season in Game 5 of the NBA Finals and the Heat closed out the series with an emphatic 121-106 victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder at AmericanAirlines Arena.

The Heat put together a 19-1 run in the third quarter. Miami led by 24 points entering the fourth quarter.

LeBron James was an unstoppable force throughout the postseason and he closed out the series with his first triple-double of the season, scoring 26 points to go along with 13 assists and 11 rebounds. He put together one of the postseason's greatest individual performances, averaging 30.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists in 23 games.

Mike Miller wrote himself into NBA Finals lore with 23 points on 7 of 8 from three-point range. It was a career postseason high in scoring for Miller in what might have been his last game. Miller hinted towards retirement in his postgame news conference.

"I've got to make the best decision, not only for the organization, for the players that work every night, for the Arisons who believed in me, for Coach Riley for bringing me here, and then for my family," Miller said. "Just got to make sure it's the best one."

Miller has three years left on his contract. He'll meet with doctors in the next week to determine the extent of his injuries. If he needs surgery (or surgeries), Miller might call it quits and retire. It's a tricky situation. Miller would rather have the Heat use its amnesty clause on him. It would allow him to be paid the full amount of his contract.

Miller's seven three-pointers was one shy of the Finals record, set by Ray Allen in 2010.

The Heat was 14 of 26 from three-point range. The 14 three-pointers was one shy of the postseason record. All five Heat starters scored in double figures for the first time this postseason.

Chris Bosh delivered 24 points, a postseason career high, and seven rebounds to go along with two blocks in Game 5. The Heat, which lost the first game of the series with Bosh coming off the bench, won four straight with Bosh back in the starting lineup. Bosh had 12 points in the third quarter. Closing out the series at home was significant for Bosh, who collapsed in the Heat's "Hall of Champions" after the 2011 Finals. The moment was caught on camera and it haunted Bosh for an entire season.

"It was everything for me," Bosh said. "It was just erasing all those memories."

Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem won their second Finals on Thursday. It was the first NBA championship for the 13 other members of the team. Wade finished with 20 points, eight rebounds, three assists and four blocks. Wade averaged 23.5 points in the Heat's four victories of the series. Wade has scored at least 20 points in 15 of his 17 career Finals games.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Status update on LeBron James

LeBron James was still sore on Wednesday after Tuesday's bout with leg cramps but said he "should be fine" by Thursday night.

The Heat plays the Thunder at 9 p.m. on Thursday in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. The Heat leads the series 3-1 and can clinch its second NBA championship in franchise history with a victory.

"I feel a lot better than I did last night--that's clear," James said during his post-practice news conference at AmericanAirlines Arena. "I'm able to walk up here even better than I did last night when I talked. I'm still a little sore because of the muscles just kind of being at an intense level, very tight."

James received treatment on his legs on Tuesday night and again Wednesday morning. He participated in the Heat's light practice. 

James went down with a leg cramp in his quadriceps during the fourth quarter of Game 4 and was carried off the court but reentered the game to sink a clutch three-pointer with under three minutes to play. James, noticeably fatigued from the cramping, then left the game with under a minute to play.

"I'm going to use today as an opportunity to continue to improve with my legs," James said. "And also with the game being basically at midnight tomorrow night I have all day tomorrow, too, to prepare." 

GAME 5: Heat 104, Thunder 98

One more.

The Heat defeated the Thunder 104-98 on Tuesday at AmericanAirlines Arena in Game 4 of the Finals to take a commanding 3-1 series lead in the best-of-7 series. The Heat can win the Finals with a victory on Thursday in Game 5.

LeBron James had a heroic fourth quarter, fighting through pain of a leg cramps, to make one of the most important shots of his career. His three-pointer with 2:51 left in the game gave the Heat a 97-94 lead and Miami held on for the victory.

Mario Chalmers made a pair of free throws with 13.8 seconds left to give the Heat a five-point lead. After a 20-second timeout, Kevin Durant missed a three-point attempt with 13.6 seconds to play and Chalmers made 1 of 2 free throws with 10.6 seconds left to clinch the victory.

Mario Chalmers, of course. LeBron led the Heat with 26 points, but Chalmers had 25 points, including a team-leading 12 points in the fourth quarter. Chalmers' 25 points tied a career postseason high. He scored 19 points in the second half, his highest scoring half this postseason, on 7 of 10 shooting.

Dwyane Wade, who rocked flip-up shades with blue-tinted lenses in his postgame news conference. Wade earned the right to clown around. He finished with 25 points for the second straight game. He had15 points in the second half, including 10 in the third quarter. The Heat was 10 of 16 from the field in the third quarter. Wade was 2 of 3 from the field in the period and 6 of 6 from the free-throw line.

Norris Cole showed up to the arena with a high-top fade, the throwback haircut he sported in college. Cole should probably keep the hairstyle. He finished with eight points of the bench and provided the Heat with a spark when he scored eight points in seven minutes between the first and second quarters. The Thunder outscored the Heat 33-19 in th first quarter but Cole made a key three-pointer at the end of the period. He then drained another three-pointer to begin the second quarter to fuel a 16-0 run for the Heat. After falling behind by 17 points in the first quarter, the Heat trailed by three points entering halftime.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Let's compare LeBrons on eve of his 2011 Finals meltdown

Everything seems so crystal clear right now. The season is going to be over in two games. Fact. I remember feeling the same way last season.

Then I remember Game 4.


If your memory needs joggling, that's the game when LeBron James' game melted through the reactor's core. Up 2-1 in the series, the Heat led by nine points with 10 minutes to play in Game 4. LeBron's stat line in the fourth quarter: 0 points, 0 of 1 from the field, 0 of 0 from the free throw line, 1 assists, 2 turnovers.

"Obviously up until the Finals last year he was having an amazing playoffs," Wade said. "He had a game where he struggled and he kind of let that get into his mind a little bit and he was thinking too much."

We all know what happened from there.

"I let my teammates down," James said before the Finals began in Oklahoma City.

James appears to be in a better frame of mind this time around. His statistics don't compare to the 2011 Finals. In finished with 107 points and 43 rebounds in six games against the Mavericks. He needs 16 points and 12 rebounds to match those totals and can do it in two fewer games in this Finals.

"He's just a totally different player," Dwyane Wade said. "Now he's playing, he's on attack and being very aggressive. When he puts his head down to go to the rim, you have no other choice but to foul him or he's going to finish. I love how he's attacking the basket because good things happen for us."

Said James: "Last year is last year and we're not going into a Game 4 on someone else's floor. We'll be ready for the challenge."

GAME 3: Heat 91, Thunder 85

Two victories away from a championship.

The Heat defeated the Thunder 91-85 on Sunday at American Airlines Arena in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Miami now leads the series 2-1 and can hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy on its home court with two more victories on Tuesday and Thursday.

LeBron James made second of two free-throw attempts with 16 seconds left in the game. It gave the Heat a four-point cushion and Russell Westbrook missed a three-point attempt with 9.9 seconds left. James came down with the rebound to end the game.

The Heat was 31 of 35 from the free-throw line and made 25 of its last 27 attempts from the line. Dwyane Wade led the Heat with nine free throws on 11 attempts. James was 6 of 8 from the line. Chris Bosh was 4 of 4 from the line.

The Heat trailed by 10 points when Shane Battier and James Jones gave the Heat six straight points from the free-throw line late in the third quarter. Serge Ibaka fouled Battier in the act of shooting a three-pointer and then Derrick Fisher made the same mistake on Jones on the Heat's next possession. After beginning the third quarter 1 of 10 from the field, the Heat ended the period with a 13-2 run and led by two points entering the fourth quarter.

The Heat was 9 of 10 from the free-throw line in the final period with James going 4 of 5 from the line and Wade making all three of his attempts. Bosh was 2 of 2 from the line in the fourth quarter.

The Heat dominated the boards in the final period, winning the rebounding battle 13-6. Miami had four crucial offensive rebounds in the fourth, including two from Bosh. Bosh led the Heat in rebounds in the final period with five.

In addition to his clutch free throws in the third quarter, Shane Battier was 2 of 2 from three-point range. Both of his triples came in the final two minutes of the second quarter. Battier is 11 of 15 from distance in the Finals. His 11 three-pointers ties an NBA Finals record for the most three-pointers in the first three games of a championship series. Rashard Lewis made 11 three-pointers for the Magic in the first three games 2009 Finals against the Lakers.

With the Heat trailing in the third period, Dwyane Wade refused to come out of the game and went on to play every second of the second half. Wade led the Heat with 14 points in the second half and finished with 25 points. He also had seven rebounds and seven assists to go along with five turnovers.

James has led the Heat in scoring in each of the first three games of the Finals. He finished with 29 points on 11 of 23 shooting. Game 3 was the just the second time in the Heat's last 10 playoff games that James has scored under 30 points. James enters Game 4 just nine points shy of the Heat's franchise postseason record for points in a single postseason.

James has scored at least 25 points in 13 consecutive postseason games. He scored at least 25 points in 17 straight games in the 2009 postseason.

James' 14 rebounds in Game 3 gives him nine double-doubles in the postseason. It's his fourth game this postseason with at least 14 rebounds.

Mario Chalmers went 1 of 8 from the field and scored two points. Despite the rough game, Chalmers' basket in the fourth quarter was an important one. His reverse layup with 8:26 left in the game gave the Heat a three-point lead.




Friday, June 15, 2012

GAME 2: Heat 100, Thunder 96

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Heat built a 17-point lead in the first quarter and then held on late to even the best-of-7 NBA Finals at one game apiece. LeBron James was a force both offensively and defensively, Dwyane Wade bounced back after struggling in Game 1, Chris Bosh returned to the starting lineup with a dominant effort and Shane Battier once again sparkled.

LeBron James made two free throws with 7.1 seconds left to give the Heat a four-point lead.

The Heat's victory at Chesapeake Energy Arena was the first for an opponent of the Thunder in the playoffs. Oklahoma City was 9-0 at home in the postseason entering Thursday night.

The Heat outscored the Thunder 27-15 in the first quarter and started the game with an 18-2 run. It was the only quarter the Heat outscored the Thunder but it was enough. James and Wade attacked the basket from the opening tip and Battier made a pair of three-pointers.

Shane Battier finished with 17 points and was 5 of 7 from three-point range. In the first two games of the Finals, Battier scored 34 points and was 9 of 13 from three-point range.

Bosh returned to the starting lineup for the first time since straining an abdominal muscle in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. He had 16 points and 15 rebounds, including seven offensive boards. Before the game, I asked Bosh if he was ready to play 40 minutes. Guess so. He played 40 minutes and 23 seconds. His contribution was the biggest difference between Games 1 and 2.

"He did a good job of rebounding," said Thunder guard Russell Westbrook. "I think he helped them out, tipping balls, getting extra possessions, just doing his job."

LeBron James was 12 of 12 from the free-throw line.

Congrats to rookie Norris Cole, who made his Finals debut. He played more than 13 minutes and was 1 of 3 from the field for two points.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

GAME 1: Thunder 105, Heat 94

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Thunder took a 1-0 lead in the NBA Finals with a 105-94 victory in Oklahoma City. The Heat led by double-digits in the first half but Oklahoma City settled its nerves in the second half and pulled away in the fourth quarter.

Russell Westbrook made a 17-foot jumper with 3:35 to play. It gave the Thunder a 10-point lead. 

Game 1 in the series of the most hyped NBA Finals matchup of all-time goes to young Kevin Durant, who scored 17 points in the fourth quarter to finish with 36 points. LeBron James had 30 points, including seven in the final period. 

While the matchup of LeBron and Durant will get the most attention, the game turned on the play of Russell Westbrook. He had a slow start but responded with 12 points in the third quarter. Westbrook finished with 27 points and two rebounds shy of a triple-double. Westbrook’s counterpart, Dwyane Wade, had 19 points on 7 of 19 shooting.

The Heat basically used six players in Game 1. Chris Bosh, the Heat’s new sixth man, apparently, came off the bench and played 34 minutes. Mike Miller played 10 minutes and Joel Anthony played two minutes. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he plans to get more reserves involved in Game 2.

Shane Battier exploded for 17 points but, in the end, it was all in vain. He was 6 of 9 from the field and 4 of 6 from three-point range. While the Heat lost, Battier’s big night was important. The Heat is going to need a consistent three-point shooter if its going to win this series.

The Heat prided itself all season on getting up and down the court and scoring in transition. The Thunder outscored the Heat 24-4 in fast-break points. It will be interesting to see how the Heat adjusts. It seems inconceivable that the Heat would counter in Game 2 with a grind-it-out game plan. We’ll see.

The Thunder outscored the Heat 56-40 in the paint.

The Heat is going to have to find a way to slow down the Thunder both in transition and in the final two periods of games. Spoelstra said he plans on working more players into his rotation. Starting Bosh is the most obvious adjustment with either Ronny Turiaf or Joel Anthony coming off the bench. Most importantly, however, the Heat needs more offensively out of Wade.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Let's talk about The Finals

The NBA Finals begins on Tuesday in Oklahoma City. Here are three initial talking points...

Get ready for a fast-paced series. Both teams like to get out and run. The Thunder enters The Finals averaging 102.3 points per game in the playoffs. The Heat is averaging 96.1 points in the postseason and 99.2 points per game in victories.

"Finally in the NBA Finals you’re going to get to see great athletes be great athletes," said Magic Johnson on ESPN post-game show.

LeBron James is averaging 30.8 points per game this postseason, the most of any other player. Kevin Durant is averaging 27.8 points per game entering The Finals. James will guard Durant plenty in The Finals. Can't wait.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are averaging 67.4 points per game in the playoffs. The Thunder's Big 3 of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden are averaging 67.1 points per game entering The Finals.


GAME 7: Heat 101, Celtics 88

Miami advanced to the NBA Finals for the second straight season on Saturday with a 101-88 victory against the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Dwyane Wade's three-point play gave the Heat a 12-point lead with 2:53 left.

Chris Bosh had three three-pointers and Shane Battier had four but the shot of the night goes to LeBron James for his 30-footer with 5:44 to play.

This is the Heat's third Eastern Conference championship and second in two years. It's the first Game 7 victory for the Heat since May 4, 2004 (against the Hornets). The Heat is 3-3 all-time in Game 7s.

The Heat's Game 7 victory marked just the 27th time in 165 scenarios that a team has won a series after losing Game 5 of a tied series. It's just the second time in postseason franchise history the Heat has come back from a 3-2 deficit to win a series.

Game 7 had 20 lead changes but the Heat used a 20-6 run over the final 8:48 of the fourth quarter to close out the Celtics. The Heat trailed by 11 points with 3:12 remaining in the second quarter. Miami enters The Finals with five double-figure comebacks in the postseason. The Celtics' 15 points in the fourth quarter was a series low for the final period.

In the last three games of the series, Dwyane Wade scored 31 points in the fourth quarters. He scored 106 of his 150 points this series in the second half and overtime.

LeBron James had 31 points on Saturday with 11 points in the fourth quarter. He averaged 33.6 points in the series. He's the first person to score at least 30 points in six games of a series since Shaq in 2000 NBA Finals against Indiana. James' 11 30-point games this postseason ties Wade' team record set in the 2006 postseason.

It was either the Statue of Liberty by James in the fourth quarter or the alley-oop from Wade to James in transition in the first half. I can't decide.

Scored 19 points off the bench, knocking down 8 of 10 from the field. Made three three-pointers, a career high.

Four three-pointers by Shane Battier was one shy of a postseason career high. He's headed to The Finals for the first time in his career.

Udonis Haslem turned 32 on Saturday. He scored seven points and grabbed six rebounds in 38 minutes.

Great showing by Miami fans, after being called out nationally. More impressive was the respect the Heat's fans showed the Celtics when Boston's starters left the court with less than a minute to play.

"Long. It's been a long 12 months."
--Dwyane Wade



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