Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 8:59 AM
The script really can't get any more Hollywood than this:
The NBA's three-time Most Valuable Player - Mr. LeBron James - sits a mere one win away from capturing his first-ever league championship and yet there are still questions.
Okay, so the questions right here and right now don't seem to be about whether or not James can get "mission accomplished" but rather will he be in full-speed ahead mode after painful quad cramps kayoed him for much of the final five minutes in Tuesday's 104-98 win by the Miami Heat over the fading-fast Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 4 of these NBA Finals.
James pooh-poohed the idea that he would be less than his usual self in the Game 4 post-game press conference - yes, he spoke about being "hydrated" and "re-hydrated" (if that's a word!) about a dozen times while speaking to reporters and we wouldn't think the whole cramp issue will be a problem come game time.
Still, what about James being "big enough" to match the moment tonight?
Will he be the one with the key drive to the hoop late in a close game - or the guy firing up the gut-check triple in an absolute crunch-time moment or will he leave it to teammate Dwyane Wade or someone else on the Heat side in this potential series- and title-clinching night?
Folks, if you've been following this whole James career/saga than you know that's just as much part of the "real story" as is Miami chasing down a second title in the past six years.
Let's roll out our Jim Sez NBA Finals Game 5 preview and see what other storylines can be tackled here:
THE NBA FINALS
OKLAHOMA CITY at MIAMI - Heat leads series 3-1; Game 5 is tonight at 9:05 p.m. ET
Gotta hand it to Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra:
It seems like every time he walks into these NBA Finals post-game "pressers" he utters the same thing and that's "four or five plays made the difference (tonight)" and he's certainly correct.
Heck, in Miami's two home wins in this set - by six points each time (but both felt much closer, of course) - the Heat either made the big hoop or got the key deflection or, usually, made the big defensive stop to help will its way to the winner's circle and time after time we've seen this young and somewhat immature OKC team flounder at crunch time:
Whether it's the Russell Westbrook brain cramp that had him committing a stupid foul with just 4 seconds left on the shot clock late in Game 4 or guard Derek Fisher's ill-advised drive to the hoop on a fast break that had "numbers" the crux of the matter is there's usually a play here made by Miami and not made by the Thunder that's all that is separating these two very evenly-matched squads.
If the Thunder wants to shore up some things before it really gets too late, than Scott Brooks' club must tighten up matters on the defensive end and the defensive boards - those 15 second-chance points by the Heat in Game 4 were absolute killers and don't let anyone tell you Miami F Chris Bosh (4 offensive rebs in that last game) has been a non-factor in this series just because he's not been an offensive force.
One other item that th Thunder may wish to do is pour some confidence in sixth man James Harden's head-and-soul. The bearded one comes off back-to-back 2-of-10 FG nights in the two games in Miami and unless he's gonna turn the corner and score at least 16 or 17 points here, than it will indeed be game/set/match for LeBron and his playmates.
If the Heat is counting on guard Mario Chalmers to pour in another 25 points tonight than it ought to be careful 'cause this former Kansas Jayhawks champion has very much run hot-and-cold from the floor this post-season but as long as Chalmers and his Heat mates keep the turnover stat line down (only 9 turnovers in Tuesday's win) than the 3-point home favorites should be fine.
Let's see if we're all watching James hold aloft the championship trophy right 'round 11:45 p.m. ET tonight ... or will "The King" be answering all the "wrong" questions instead in a post-Game 5 presser? Hmmm.
Here's how the Thunder-Heat NBA Finals Series has gone so far (note all home teams are in CAPS):
|6-12||OKLAHOMA CITY||- 5||Miami||OKLAHOMA CITY 105-94|
|6-14||OKLAHOMA CITY||- 5.5||Miami||Miami 100-96|
|6-17||MIAMI||- 4||Oklahoma City||MIAMI 91-85|
|6-19||MIAMI||- 3||Oklahoma City||MIAMI 104-98|
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will continue to crush the folks in Las Vegas with the on-going NBA Finals action between the Heat and Thunder and so get all the Side & Totals Hoop Winners in this best-of-seven series plus get all the Major-League Baseball Winners too. Sign up today and get it all as there is NBA and MLB winning action each and every day! Just be sure to check in with us either right here online or else at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the daily and nightly NBA and MLB winners.
THE PAST 10 NBA CHAMPIONS
Here's the past 10 NBA champions with whom they beat and the NBA Finals MVP:
|2011||Dallas Mavericks||Miami Heat||4-2||Dirk Nowitzki|
|2010||LA Lakers||Boston Celtics||4-3||Kobe Bryant|
|2009||LA Lakers||Orlando Magic||4-1||Kobe Bryant|
|2008||Boston Celtics||LA Lakers||4-2||Paul Pierce|
|2007||San Antonio Spurs||Cleveland Cavaliers||4-0||Tony Parker|
|2006||MIAMI HEAT||Dallas Mavericks||4-2||Dwayne Wade|
|2005||San Antonio Spurs||Detroit Pistons||4-3||Tim Duncan|
|2004||Detroit Pistons||LA Lakers||4-1||Chauncey Billups|
|2003||San Antonio Spurs||New Jersey Nets||4-2||Tim Duncan|
|2002||LA Lakers||New Jersey Nets||4-0||Shaquille O'Neal|
Hey, note that NBA Western Conference clubs have won the last three titles and seven of the last 10.
NOTE: Get our NBA Finals Game 5 re-cap plus much more in tomorrow's edition of Jim Sez.