Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, May 5, 2012 at 10:54 AM
Is it time to bring out the brooms in NBA-land?
We head into this first weekend in May with the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat each looking to put daggers into their respective opponents with four games-to-none series sweeps and you've gotta admit that the above-mentioned squads have truly ripped the life out of their playoff foes - hey, Oklahoma City won a pair of close calls at home to start off this series against defending champion Dallas and than let the hammer down on a 95-79 win in "Big D" this past Thursday night that put Scotty Brooks' ultra-talented team on the brink of sweep city.
The Thunder look to do its broom job tonight while the Heat - fresh off Thursday's 87-70 win at the 5-point home underdog New York Knicks - will try and get the sweep accomplished with tip time Sunday at 3:30 p.m. - could it be that the Knicks are gonna lose their 14th consecutive playoff game?
Hey, they already set an NBA playoff record for franchise futility in this regard.
No doubt Miami would like to get as much rest time as possible for the "big three" of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and new daddy Chris Bosh and remember that the lack of quality bench players for Miami means head coach Erik Spoelstra welcomes any/all idle time for his starters to rest following this wacky 66-game compressed regular season.
If you ask us we say that these respective Game #4's are monumentally important to the teams looking for the sweeps:
Oklahoma City really wants to send a message to the Mavs following last year's NBA Western Conference Finals setback versus Dallas - a sweep might have Thunder players really/truly believing in themselves for a title run this spring while the Heat goes by the old sports adage: The best reward for closing out an opponent is more time off ... it's the American way!
We'll snap off our quick-hitter Game #4 previews in just a moment but first this key reminder:
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Tonight in the Western Conference, it's ...
#2 OKLAHOMA CITY at #7 DALLAS - Thunder leads series 3-0
If anyone out there was worried or concerned regarding the shooting touch of three-time NBA scoring leader Kevin Durant, rest easy!
Durant poured in 31 points - he drilled 11-of-15 FG attempts - in Thursday's route job win and thus set aside any worries after he shot a collective 15-of-44 (that's 34 percent shooting) in the first two games in Oklahoma City.
Maybe better yet for a Thunder club that entered this here-and-now best-of-seven set as 6-to-1 series betting favorites versus Dallas - in Game #3 everyone did what they're supposed to for Brooks' bunch: Durant's main sidekick PG Russell Westbrook dumped in 20 points, the Kendrick Perkins/Serge Ibaka muscular tandem tallied 20 rebounds and the bench starring Sixth Man Award dude James Harden combined for 29 points and 15 rebounds with only 4 turnovers.
If the Mavericks felt it a rather daunting task to have Okie City up two games-to-none while heading into that last clash, what can Dirk Nowitzki and mates be thinking here?
Sure, Mavs owner Mark Cuban continues to take abuse for not re-signing key C Tyson Chandler this off-season but hard to criticize a veteran team that gave everything it had in those first two games in Oklahoma and now is gasping for air.
If you want to know how Dallas can squeeze at least one win out of this seemingly hopeless series, than consider the fact that someone off the Mavs bench has to sport monster numbers here although it sure appears that reserves Jason Terry and Vince Carter - a combined 5-of-18 shooting in Game #3 - are on their proverbial "last legs".
Here's how the Thunder-Mavericks series has gone so far (note that home teams are in CAPS):
|4-28||OKLA. CITY||- 7.5||Dallas||OKLA CITY 99-98|
|4-30||OKLA CITY||- 6.5||Dallas||OKLA CITY 102-99|
|5-3||DALLAS||- 3||Okla City||Okla City 95-79|
On Sunday in the Eastern Conference, it's ...
#2 MIAMI at #7 NEW YORK - Heat leads series 3-0
Q: When exactly do great teams know that they're great in this league?
A: When they can finish off an opponent the first time around.
Here's the Heat with said opportunity and keep in mind the Knicks will again be without PG Jeremy Lin (he was hoping to come back in time for this Game #4 but that's now out of the question) and likely without bonehead F/C Amar'e Stoudemire (hand injury) who told everyone he would be good-to-go here after sitting out Game #3 but don't count on it.
So, the Knicks - who shot a putrid 32 percent from the floor in Game #3 (that's 22-of-69 FG makes) - must count on F Carmelo Anthony doing better than 7-of-23 from the floor and maybe they can open up things for a few Steve Novak triple looks - but Miami's determined to keep him in view and the James/Wade tandem gives you the sense that they can score at will when the game gets close.
Note James' eight consecutive points to start the fourth quarter the other night and the two key Wade triples that opened up the scoring gap and this duo was good for 52 points and they were not even playing at their highest level.
Here's how the Heat-Knicks series has gone so far (note that home teams are in CAPS):
|4-28||MIAMI||- 8.5||New York||MIAMI 100-67|
|4-30||MIAMI||- 9.5||New York||MIAMI 104-94|
|5-3||Miami||- 5||NEW YORK||Miami 87-70|
NOTE: More NBA and MLB News/Notes in the next Jim Sez.