Monday, June 04, 2012

No pictures, no links, no nothing. Deal with it. (Update: picture)

Last weekend Rob sent me an email asking if I’d write something up for the Thunder-Spurs Western Conference Finals. As G:TB’s resident NBA nerd, I happily agreed. The problem was I forgot that the Western Conference Finals began on Sunday night and that I had already made plans to hang out on the beach and by the pool drinking on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. You know by now that this Western Conference preview never happened. Yet, since I had planned a week off for myself last week while changing jobs I figured I’d get around to it early in the week. Well, Memorial Day came and went without so much as a word typed and, before I knew it I was packing up the care on Friday morning for my family’s (parents, sisters, nieces, nephews, etc.) annual summer get together. Not surprisingly, I didn’t type a single word this weekend either. I did, however, get in plenty of time laying around on the beach and drinking in Ormond Beach, FL. (Quick aside: No matter how many times I travel to the Daytona/Ormond area, I never, ever get used to the sight of cars driving on the beach). So, why didn’t I get around to writing anything up in between my two booze and beach filled weekends? Well, the short answer is: I’m terribly lazy and I was on vacation. The slightly longer answer is: I got sucked in to a new book (‘Play Their Hearts Out’) which I highly recommend to any college basketball fans or parents of kids who will play sports at the youth level. I blew through it in less than a week. And again, I’m really lazy. Also, I spent waaay too much time watching documentaries on Netflix (‘Knuckles’, ‘Bloods & Crips: Made in America’ to name a couple) and honing my skills running the spread option on NCAA Football 2012. Which is a very convoluted way of saying (again), I’m really lazy.

Anyway, we’re 4 games into the Western Conference Finals and it’s tied up at 2-2. I had originally picked the Spurs in 6 based on what I perceived to be significant advantages in coaching and experience. Now, I really believe this series will go the full 7. It seems I underestimated the Thunder’s distinct homecourt advantage, which is nearly collegiate in it’s raucousness (is that a word?) and enthusiasm. I also may have underestimated Scott Brooks. His decision to place Thabo Sefolosha on Tony Parker has changed the dynamics of the series and significantly hindered San Antonio’s pick & roll game. Now, it’s on Gregg Poppovich to counter Brooks and see if he can swing things back in the Spurs’ direction.

Now, since my child is beginning to bitch, a couple of quick points:

Serge Ibaka is even better than we (or I) thought: We all know Ibaka is a game changer defensively and a freak athletically. I don’t think any of us expected him to be an offensive force late in the playoffs like he was on Saturday night. If Ibaka can do that consistently, the ceiling for this Thunder team (which already exceedingly high) becomes preposterously high. Also: Ibaka’s on the Spanish National team. This is a scary, scary thought for big man starved Team USA this summer in London. As if the Gasol brothers weren’t enough of a force, now we have to contend with Ibaka too? Shit.

Russell Westbrook might dress like a total asshole, but he’s starting to get it: Westbrook will always be an offensive minded point guard (and he should be, it’s part of what makes him so dangerous) but he’s also starting to figure out how to pick his spots and how to lay back when he sees Kevin Durant and James Harden are feeling it. Who was the dope who predicted that Russell Westbrook would be a slightly better version of Keyon Dooling when he was drafted out of UCLA? Oh yeah, that was me. Not just lazy, but stupid too.

I should hate Manu Ginobilli, but I don’t: My hate for Italians is well documented. And yes, I know that Ginobilli is from Argentina but he’s just a transplanted (through multiple generations) Italian. Most Argentinians are, or their transplanted Germans. There’s a reason the rest of South America hates Argentina. Listen, don’t blame me. I’m just the messenger. Beyond the hate for Italy, I absolutely loathe flopping, particularly on offensive fouls away from the basket. And Ginobilli and Derek Fisher are the two players I blame most for popularizing this trend in the NBA. Yet, unlike Fisher, Manu is inventive off the dribble, fearless in the clutch and just damn fun to watch on offense. So, grudgingly, Manu Ginobilli is okay with me.

Okay. That’s it. I hope Rob’s somewhat happy. Probably not, but at least we won’t have to see that tiny little ugly ass feet of his again tonight.

Update: Did you know that James Harden has a white cousin? Well, he does. Handsome fellow too.


Mark said...

Just to cut TJ off at the pass: yes, the formatting is non-existent. The new blogger confuses & frightens me. I have no idea what I'm doing. Everything looks great in the draft...and then it goes to shit.

So, TJ, fix that up. Please.

Mark said...

So it turns out that reading instructions is somewhat useful. Neat.

Shlara said...

a Western Conference Finals preview post that doesn't mention the genius of Sam Presti??

Mark said...

It's not a preview at this point but the mere mention of Serge Ibaka alone is acknowledgement of Presti's foresight & genius.

mayhugh said...

Admittedly, I did not watch the game last night but it felt to me from the first four games that, in order for OKC to win a game, they had to either (1) play out of their minds or (2) catch San Antonio having a bad night. Game 3 San Antonio shot a sub-par 39%, and in Game 4 OKC's top 3 scorers went 31-40 on field goal attempts/makes. Neither seems like it can be replicated very easily in the next 1-2 games. I'd like to see 'em in the finals, though.

Dave said...

i like the look of this post. very retro. i just succumbed to rob's bullying and put a picture on my post today, but never agin.

Jerry said...

Durant and Harden flop a ton, but nobody talks about it. And the broadcasts don't show 20 replays of their flops.

OKC has actually been passing the ball in the last 3 games, which is a huge departure from their normal style. Even Durant has passed the ball a few times.

They're actually good enough to win with their normal garbage style of playing - 0 or 1 pass, mid-range jumper, but if they play team basketball even just for stretches, they'll be very tough to beat.

I don't think either series is over, but if we look at Miami-OKC, the Heat will need something close to a full-strength Bosh to have a good chance. He'll make a huge difference by pulling Ibaka out of the paint.

Good matchups in that series all-around. Thabo can guard Wade, but Harden can't. Will be interesting to see how that goes.

rob said...

i am completely confounded by the heat. con. founded.

Mark said...

They seem equally confounded. It's an interesting dynamic, how well Boston big 3-4 fit together when contrasted with Miami's big 3.

Igor said...

Meta go up a run in the top of the 10th.

Boot a routine grounder to short
Boot a double play ball to first (get one out)
Wild pitch
Boot a double play ball to short

There is bad baseball, and there is truly terrible.