Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 at 9:51 AM
At least the Oklahoma City Thunder is consistent:
The NBA's Western Conference champions have proved in both of these Finals games in Miami that it can't make the big basket late, can't make the defensive stop late and often don't have a clue in key situations.
Alright, so give the Miami Heat loads of credit for snagging last night's 104-98 win after once-upon-a-time trailing by a whopping 17 points but the facts are the facts here, folks:
The Thunder's "big two" of Kevin Durant (28 points) and Russell Westbrook (a dizzying 43 points) outscored Miami's big two of LeBron James (26 points) and Dwayne Wade (25 points) by a resounding 20 points and still lost and still didn't even cover the 3-point Las Vegas pointspread! Yikes!
Maybe if Oklahoma City's Thabo Sefolosha doesn't misfire so badly on a corner triple (admittedly tipped by Wade) or reserve guard Derek Fisher doesn't bungle a fast break or sixth man award winner James Harden didn't have yet another 2-of-10 field-goal shooting night (just as he had in Game 3's loss in South Beach) than we'd be talking about some epic best-of-seven series tied at two games apiece but instead here's the Heat staring at a possible second championship in six years and a first title in the famed James Era.
Okay, so "The King" was magnificent again in Game 4 as he almost finished with a triple double (see 12 assists and 9 rebounds) until he opted out with a bad leg/cramps for much of the game's final five-or-so minutes. No doubt James' medical updates will be spewing across the ESPN "Bottom Line" for the next 36 hours or so but why didn't Okie City take advantage of a gimpy James on those couple of late-game possessions and why has Durant shrunk at many critical moments in this series?
Naturally, we told you Westbrook had to keep shooting a few days ago and he complied with a brilliant 20-of-32 FG night that featured a slew of drive-to-the-rim hoops but the emotional Westbrook was one of many OKC players who couldn't shoot straight from beyond the arc and that was a factor not brought out nearly enough in all the post-game shows- yes, Oklahoma City shot just 3-of-16 from triple-land and lost the board battle (40-to-35) once again while Miami's ace-in-the-hole guy delivered big-time:
Guard Mario Chalmers scored 25 points in just 34 minutes and showed more guts at crunch time than either Durant or Harden- the latter didn't even want to take a couple of fourth-quarter shots and so no wonder he's being verbally barbecued on this off day.
You heard the stats:
No NBA team has ever come back from a three games-to-one deficit in the NBA Finals- it's 30-and-oh overall- and in this era of the 2-3-2 format the teams with commanding 3-1 series lead are 13-0 and there has not even been a Game 7 among those baker's dozen series!
Memo to the Thunder and brain-cramped head coach Scott Brooks: Oh, you all had your opportunities in both Game 3 and Game 4 to make this a scary scene for the Heat but instead you melted like hot butter at crunch time ... don't believe Brooks' jive that "experience" does not matter.
You damn well better believe that the Heat's losing experience in last year's NBA Finals against Dallas has toughened ‘em up for this title round appearance (gee, where are all of Erik Spoelstra's critics today?) while OKC's inexperience on this big stage has hurt badly.
Ready to now make that Finals record 31-0, Miami?
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 Sez NBA Playoff Pointspread Note: Oklahoma City now is a collective 5-3-1 ATS (against the spread) on the road in this 2012 post-season for a .625 winning rate while Miami exited last night's Game 4 clash with an 8-3-1 vig mark at home during this year's playoffs (and that's a .727 winning rate).
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.
NBA DRAFT NOTES
Okay, we know that right now you're consumed with the ongoing NBA Finals plus there's some great Major-League Baseball action going on too but don't forget that the NBA Draft is slated for a week from tomorrow- that's Thursday, June 28th (7 p.m. ET at the Prudential Center in Newark- the one-time home of the now-Brooklyn Nets)- and thought it might be wise to spend a few moments on the players not expected to be plucked in the top 7 or 8 picks and so here goes ...
DION WAITERS, G, SYRACUSE- Word's out that the Phoenix Suns have informed this instant offense shooter than he'll be their pick at #13 one year after he averaged 12.6 points per game and drained a heady 48 percent of his field-goal tries but don't be shocked if someone trades up (maybe Dallas who owns the #17 pick) and makes Waiters a top 10 selection. The kid isn't scared of taking the big shot and would likely be a real sixth man stud in the league where they play for pay.
TYLER ZELLER, C, NORTH CAROLINA- This seven-foot, rail-thin hoopster averaged 16.3 ppg and 9.6 rebounds last year for the Tar Heels and his ability to run the floor well makes him a dynamic choice and yet we keep hearing he won't get tabbed until the 15th or 16th pick in Round One ... how come? Zeller would be a great fit with the still-rebuilding Detroit Pistons at #9 although so-called conventional wisdom says he'll wind up with Philadelphia at #15 or Houston with pick 16 and so stay tuned.
ROYCE WHITE, F, IOWA STATE- The junior college transfer who played just one year for the I-State Cyclones averaged 13.4 ppg and 9.3 rpg but his game is much more than just about pedestrian stats as this 6-foot-8, 270-pounder is rock-ribbed tough and can set mean screens and defend "3's" (or small forwards) in the NBA. Most mock draft boards right now place White in the 20-to-25 draft choice area but he could climb into the mid-teens with aforementioned Philly looking to plug in someone when Elton Brand leaves town. Hey, Oklahoma City- drafting #28- would be wise to trade up 10-to-12 spots and get him in case Kendrick Perkins breaks down for good.
ARNETT MOULTRIE, F, MISS STATE- This 21-year-old junior was a stat-sheet stuffer for the Bulldogs last year with 16.4 ppg and 10.5 rpg after playing two years at UTEP and so his game is fully developed and more polished than many of the players projected to go ahead of him in Round One. Moultrie- who figures to play power forward in the NBA at 6-foot-11, 235 pounds- does need to add some bulk but we say if the Rockets at #16 don't land UNC's Zeller than this should be their man.
Hey, more draft goodies in the days ahead as we count down to next week's NBA Draft.
NOTE: We will have an NBA Finals Game 5 Preview in the next edition of Jim Sez ... is it party time for the Miami Heat? We'll clue you in, okay?