NBA Finals: Cleveland vs. Seattle

By: Shawn Davis

Strange opening and an awkward choice for a title, right? I’m not crazy (I think), or blind (I promise) – or at least not as blind as the officials who somehow thought it was fine for Russell Westbrook to only have three free throw attempts in Game 4 – but just stay with me because, eventually, this will make some sort of sense. No matter how the 2012 NBA Finals plays out (or would have) – although history renders the outcome anticlimactic at this juncture – one of those two cities is going to be elated and the other will be crestfallen. There’s no way around it.

A Miami victory ensures the coronation of Ohio’s Chosen One, LeBron James; born, raised and produced from the state while going on to star for the Cavaliers before he held that minor press conference you may have heard something about. My friends told me it was some big deal but they’re probably wrong anyway. So Cleveland gets to watch their former franchise player come-of-age and lead a team to the title he promised to gift-wrap for them. Ugh! When you factor in the visceral emotion and downright scary reaction to him taking his “talents” away elicited, it will be a dark day there if he holds that gold trophy in a few days. What will those basketball fans do? How will they feel seeing their superstar win a title for Miami? Will Cavaliers owner, Dan Gilbert, write a new letter to supporters of his team?

What’s going on in Seattle right now? Bedlam. If you read articles, have a television, follow sports in even a minimal fashion or have lived on this planet over the last 4 years you know that the Oklahoma City Thunder’s success is blasphemous to those in Washington. They feel like Thunder owner Clay Bennett deceived them when he purchased the team from Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz because there are emails proving he never intended to keep the team in the Northwest. Suffice to say there is major movement against the Thunder and anything positive they may achieve on the basketball court. Imagine if OKC found a way to climb back into these Finals and win the trophy. No team facing a 3-1 deficit, in the history of the NBA, has rallied to take that series or even been able to force a seventh game in that scenario. What would happen to the city of Seattle if their former team was the first?

James finally earning his crown would incense Cleveland and put a smile on the faces of Supersonics diehards while a Thunder victory would be historic; a jubilant moment for those jilted in Cleveland and an enormous glob of saliva in the faces of the great fans of Seattle?

There’s a confetti shower on the horizon and it’s going to pour somewhere. Some will love it; others will be full of anguish. Which side would you want to be on?

A few points on Game 4:

– You know what’s the one facet of the Thunder – a glaring weakness by the way – that no analyst has mentioned? They don’t even have ONE low-post scoring threat. Kendrick Perkins, on numerous occasions, drew Shane Battier, Dwyane Wade and James on defense and couldn’t do a damn thing about it. They could have held their lead in the third quarter of Game 3 and added to it last evening if they had a true banger. Remember this is where the Heat is at a disadvantage against almost every other team in the league. General Manager, Sam Presti, is universally praised for construction of this roster but if he doesn’t add true post player this franchise will fall short of its potential.

– Nick Collison needs to get more minutes for however many games the Thunder have left to play. Perkins doesn’t offer much in the way of offense so Collison is better suited to be on the floor because he’s quicker, laterally, and is better equipped to close out on Battier when Serge Ibaka is matched up with Chris Bosh. Also, when Perkins is defending the pick-and-roll he’s late on the cutter (usually Bosh) and he can’t keep the man with the ball (usually James or Wade) in front of him. Collison can supply more offense and won’t hurt the team defensively; Perkins should remain the starter but playing Collison just 16 minutes a game isn’t going to cut it anymore.

– Someone, anyone, please arrest the man masquerading on the court in James Harden’s jersey. Can someone go to his home and check if he’s still alive? Thanks. He was one of the prime reasons I picked the Thunder (in seven) and since his confidence seems to be as absent as the expected revenue for Rock of Ages I’m looking like an idiot. His poor showing this series is casting doubt on whether he’s the top-tier player he was proving to be this whole season.

– Kevin Durant needs to get assertive. Being the nice guy is great for the media and all but he needs to develop and edge, nastiness even. There are times when he needs to DEMAND the ball so he doesn’t have to catch it in positions of discomfort – and then attempt to get a good look at the basket. Additionally, he needs to get a technical foul early (in the first quarter so he won’t hurt the team) to get the referees attention when he’s fouled on a shot attempt and it’s met with a no-call (a frequency this series – and blatant last night concerning Westbrook). There have been too many instances where he just slaps his hands in frustration, glares at the official and leaves it alone. Throw your mouthpiece, Durant, get a tech, and fire up your troops. You do want to play another game, right?

– Wade begs to the officials every SINGLE TIME down the court when he takes a contested shot…and it’s sickening. Oh yeah, I’m not a hater; Wade is one of my favorite players in the league.

– Will everyone get off James’ back? Enjoy what you’re seeing if you’re a true fan of sports. He’s a remarkable athlete.

– Before I stick this pen in my ears because I’m tired of hearing it…Westbrook did not cost his team the game. Derek Fisher’s idiotic layup attempt and Harden’s point-blank miss are bigger fourth quarter transgressions that swung the game towards the Heat.

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