Tag:Conference finals
Posted on: May 19, 2011 9:48 pm
 

Kevin Durant dunks on Brendan Haywood video

Kevin Durant dunks all over Brendan Haywood in this video during Game 2 of the Western Conference finals. Posted by Ben Golliver.

During the first quarter of Game 2 of the Western Conference finals, Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star forward Kevin Durant made his case for best dunk of the 2010-2011 NBA playoffs.

Wiht the Mavericks leading 28-19, the Thunder inbounded the ball to Durant, who sized up his defender, Mavericks reserve center forward Peja Stojakovic. Durant drove hard to the right and Stojakovic couldn't stay with him. As Durant neared the paint, Mavericks reserve center Brendan Haywood rotated over to contest Durant's drive. 

Durant rose off the court and extended up and over Haywood, his right hand with the ball well above the rim. He then thrust the ball down at the rim, completing the dunk before crashing to the ground. Slow motion replay showed Durant well, well above the rim as he let go of the ball and drew the contact in his chest, earning a free throw as well.

Following the dunk, Durant was assessed a technical foul for celebrating the dunk.

Here's video of Kevin Durant's poster of Brendan Haywood with all of the replays and slow motion.



 
Posted on: May 19, 2011 7:45 pm
 

LiveChat: Thunder-Mavericks Game 2

Join us at 9 p.m. EST for a livechat during Thunder-Mavericks Game 2. Topics of discussion include: 
  • Will the perfect blend of man and machine known as Dirk Nowitzki pave the way for future innovation?
  • Combined free throws under/over 80? Sound about right?
  • Kevin Durant's backpack: manly or kindly boyish?
  • True or False: Nate Robinson is actually just a dance team member they let wear a jersey. 
Fun starts at 9 p.m. EST.

 
Posted on: May 19, 2011 6:38 pm
 

The Haslem Effect

Udonis Haslem was the difference maker in Game 2 for the Heat, and it wasn't just in the ways you noticed or would expect. 

Posted by Matt Moore

When coach Eric Spoelstra elected not to change his roster actives for Game 2, we were... less than impressed. How were the Heat going to manage to mitigate the huge rebounding advantage with the same roster? What of course we weren't counting on was Udonis Haslem rising from Spoelstra's training table like Frankenstein and destroying the Bulls like Taj Gibson did in Game 1. It wasn't just the kinds of plays you'd expect from Haslem in terms of rebounds and defense, though. Haslem made smart veteran plays... you know, the kinds of plays the Heat were counting on from Haslem all year prior to his injury. 

Check it out.


 

Here in the first half, James takes a pull-up jumper from the top of the arc. In a great example of how the bounces literally went Miami's way, the rebound doesn't carom straight backwards, where Noah is (left center), but instead bounces to the left.

 

Haslem manages to make the grab while Noah's still blocking out the weak side. Carlos Boozer's doing approximately what you'd expect him to be doing. Nothing. 



Haslem lands, and whereas Joel Anthony and his stone hands have a high probability of losing the handle on an attempted pass or gather, or even Dampier or Ilgauskas who would immediately attempt to tap the ball in over Noah's length, Haslem manages to move the ball down and sideways. Yes, you're never supposed to bring the ball back down in such a situation, but with the Bulls' length and ability to challenge, it's not a bad idea. Especially when you consider that there are four Bulls within a foot of Haslem and their backs are all facing the perimeter. Boy, I hope there's not a hyper-athletic superstar with incredible explosion hanging out after he just took a jumper. 



Because, you see, with Boozer just now starting to close on Haslem, and the Ball whizzing literally right by his head, that would mean that such a 6-8, 285 lb. freight train would have a clear shot at the lane to capitalize on Haslem's savvy play. 




Oh, yeah, LeBron James



Whoops. 

But it wasn't just there that Haslem did work. Controlling the glass was a problem for the Heat, but while the Bulls still ratcheted up 17 offensive boards, the majority came in the first half, and the percentage was much lower in Game 2. In particular, Taj Gibson wasn't a demon on both ends for the Bulls. 

Taj Gibson was a monster in that game, making all the key plays and adding 3 offensive rebounds among his seven total. In Game 2, Gibson had 1 offensive rebound, making his rebound total... 1. Haslem was partly why.  Here's an example. 

 

C.J. Watson takes a three here in the second. It's deep enough that there's a pretty solid chance the rebound's going to go wide to the left side of the basket, where Taj Gibson's waiting to collect. Haslem comes in helping off of Asik and identifies the angle. He's gonig to have to get between Gibson and the rim without already having position.

 

Haslem makes contact to put a body on him, and let's face it, this looks like a hug. The initial bump to Gibson's right side moves him just to the side enough to allow Haslem to slide in between him and the rim as the rebound comes off.



Haslem slides off of Gibson's right side to where he's parallel to Gibson, both players facing the baseline. 



Haslem turns, slipping under and up Gibson's right side, avoiding a foul call, and snares the rebound, immediately securing it low as opposed to keeping it high as the other Heat centers would be more likely to do. 

Haslem was the biggest difference maker in Game 2. Spoelstra relied on him heavily, playing him nearly to the bone. His conditioning will be tested in Game 3, but with three days rest, that may be enough time for him to recover. While the Heat may not have a player with enough size to keep the Bulls off the glass, they have a player they can count on to outsmart the Bulls' raw athleticism off the bench, giving more opportunities for the Big 3 to be the deciders in the game. 
 
Posted on: May 19, 2011 1:02 am
Edited on: May 19, 2011 1:24 am
 

Derrick Rose's non-MVP 4th



Posted by Matt Moore


It had to catch up with him at some point. Derrick Rose entered Wednesday night's Game 2 as the league leader in usage in the playoffs. If you're not metric-inclined, put simply, Rose was responsible for more possessions than any other player in the postseason, being in control for 35.7 percent of all the Bulls' possessions. That's a heavy load to bear. And in the fourth quarter against the Heat in Game 2, it caught up with Rose. 

The MVP finished just 7-23 from the field, harassed and bothered both by the Heat's double-teams on the perimeter and at the rim where the help defense was helped tremendously by, you guessed it, Udonis Haslem. But especially bad was his fourth quarter, in which the Bulls scored just 10 points, while LeBron James scored nine. Here's Rose's fourth quarter.

 

That's it. 2-4 free throw shooting, three assists, 0-4 from the field. The shot chart is equally unkind to DRose.

 


Yeah, 2-10 at the rim. Rose admitted post-game, "I missed a lot of shots I normally make tonight." Rose chalked it up to "one of those games." Which is partially true. But the Heat were much more determined to shut off Rose's perimeter pass-off options while maintaining their attack on Rose at the same time. The Heat spent less time on help defense at the elbow during Rose's drives and more time doubling on the perimeter, switching up coverage, and attacking the rim. They forced Rose to make hyper-aggressive moves toward the basket and challenged him hard there, making tough shots tougher. Rose can hit those tough shots. Making them that much tougher was enough to cause that 2-10 layup count. 

Rose was even missing free throws.

We've yet to see the MVP Derrick Rose in this series. The Bulls' offense has lived on offensive rebounds but at some point, they need to not need three tries to score. Haslem started chipping away at the Bulls' work on the offensive glass and the result was the Bulls being unable to score, again, just ten points in the fourth for the top seed in the East.

The best player for the Bulls had a bad night, with some help from the Heat on that front. Unless the MVP gets back on track, it's going to be an uphill climb for the Bulls. One can only feast on bench play and glass work for so long before your stars have to make a play.  
Posted on: May 19, 2011 12:51 am
Edited on: May 19, 2011 1:11 am
 

Playoff Fix: What does OKC have ready for Dirk?

Posted by Royce Young



One Big Thing: What every Thunder fan has been saying the past two days is, "Dirk can't score 48 with just three missed shots again, can he? Right? RIGHT!?!" I think there's some refuge to take in that, but while he might not set NBA records and break efficiency marks, Dirk is entirely capable of once again dominating.

What was lost in that Game 1 is that Dallas revealed it had no plan for Kevin Durant. Depending on perspective, it just appeared that the Mavericks may have caught a break in that Russell Westbrook couldn't finish anything at the rim. Westbrook went just 3-15, but had he shot a normal percentage, the Thunder may have come out the victors and Durant the hero. Funny how it works like that.

The X-Factor: The officiating crew. Here's a funny thing: Two of the officials in Game 1 (Joey Crawford and Zach Zarba) reffed the Thunder's Game 1 against the Grizzlies in which they lost. In that game, OKC was whistled at most any moment it tried to get physical with Zach Randolph. Things changed as that series went on and the play got a lot rougher. Will that happen again? If it does, that plays into the Thunder's favor since OKC's defense is largely built around its physicality.

Dirk drew 16 fouls on seven different Thunder defenders in Game 1. That's got to be fixed and it might simply come down to how the officials see things.

The Adjustment: Not just Dirk, but the Mavs' pick-and-roll offense with J.J. Barea really hurt the Thunder. One reason for it was that OKC's best shotblocker, Serge Ibaka, was pulled out from the basket because he had to guard Dirk. One adjustment the Thunder could make would be to either A) go small with Ibaka at center and Durant at power forward or B) play Nick Collison and Ibaka together and sit Kendrick Perkins.

Perkins isn't a shotblocker and doesn't really rotate well to stop someone at the rim. But if Collison were on Dirk (and Collison is one of the league's best pick-and-roll defenders), Ibaka could hang back and be there to protect the rim. Ibaka is averaging almost five blocks a game in the playoffs and didn't have any in Game 1.

The Sticking Point: Oklahoma City really needs to refocus and steal this game. It's not completely over if the Thunder don't, but a split is always key in winning a series where you don't have home court.

The Mavs though had an offensive rating of 130.1 in Game 1 and an astonishing 139.0 with Dirk on the floor. While it's hard to see Dirk putting up similar numbers in Game 2, you've also got to believe Rick Carlisle and Dallas will have something new for Durant. Game 1 was a lot closer than it felt and looked, but Game 2 could be a total battle.
Posted on: May 19, 2011 12:19 am
Edited on: May 19, 2011 5:39 pm
 

LeBron James, Udonis Haslem deliver 1-2 punch

Miami Heat forwards Udonis Haslem and LeBron James combined to put away the Chicago Bulls in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals. Posted byudonis-haslem Ben Golliver.

In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, the Miami Heat had zero answers for the Chicago Bulls in the second half. In Game 2, they had two: a likely suspect and a pleasant surprise. 

With the game tied at 73-73 with a little over four minutes to play in the final period, Heat forward LeBron James scored nine points in a little over three minutes to send Miami to an 85-75 victory, and even the series at 1-1. 

James' burst wasn't unlike the 10-point run he used to close out the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals, in that he visibly gained confidence after hitting a three-pointer, instantly switching into attack mode. Two perimeter jumpers and another one close in from James pushed Miami out of Chicago's reach, as the Bulls were unable to execute offensively down the stretch, scoring just two points in the final 7:15 of the fourth quarter.

Even after that run, and a 29-point, 10-rebound, 5-assist, 3-steal box score line, James wasn't in the mood to take the credit. Instead, he singled out reserve forward Udonis Haslem.

"He definitely gets the game ball tonight," James said in a post-game interview. "He came in with his energy and effort rebounding, finishing plays around the basket, made some shots when they were making a run in the third quarter that really helped us."

Because of a long-term absence due to a foot injury, Haslem's contributions this season have been far more of the off-court leadership and heart variety rather than the on-court muscle that he's known for. Prior to Game 2, Haslem had played just six minutes combined in the playoffs, including four minutes of garbage time at the end of Game 1. 

Wednesday night was a different story, though, as Haslem clocked 23 huge minutes off the bench. If he looked winded at times, understand that was the most minutes he had played since Nov. 19, 2010, nearly six months ago. 

There was a look in his eye," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told the Associated Press. "I knew it was time."

In Game 1, Chicago's bench mob ran rampant. In Game 2, they were neutralized by Haslem's energy and paint presence. Fatigued or not, Haslem was everywhere, particularly in the third quarter. On Sunday, Miami looked flat and out of sync to start the second half, and that was clearly their undoing. On Wednesday, Haslem was more than enough spark to make the difference, combining two highlight reel dunks, a mid-range jumper, five rebounds and a blocked shot to provide Miami's biggest bench contribution since James Jones went off in Game 1 of the semifinals against Boston. He finished with 13 points.

No play was bigger than this dunk in transition, in which he powered up and over Bulls point guard Derrick Rose in transition, only to land softly into a reverse somersault. 




Want a quick laugh? Try to imagine any other Heat reserve making that play.

With Chicago's offense on life support for most of the game -- Rose needed 23 shots to score 21 points, the Bulls shot 3-20 from deep as a team, the Chicago Tribune reports the Bulls scored a franchise-low 10 points in the fourth quarter -- the Heat didn't need the full fury that James and Dwyane Wade are capable of delivering.

Instead, the James / Haslem one-two punch was more than enough to send Chicago reeling into Sunday's Game 3 in Miami.
Posted on: May 18, 2011 8:01 pm
 

Erik Spoelstra elects for same roster in Game 2

Erik Spoelstra keeps same inactives as Game 1 vs. the Bulls. Which is not genius. 

Posted by Matt Moore

The definition of insanity as termed by Albert Einstein is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

In a very short sample, Erik Spoelstra looks pretty nuts.

Spoelstra announced before the game that Erick Dampier, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and Dexter Pittman would all be inactive for Game 2 vs. the Bulls. This after the Bulls pulled in 19 offensive rebound against the Heat's fronctourt which featured Jamal Magliore who has hardly played this season and 6-9 Joel Anthony. Spoelstra acknowledged that offensive rebounding killed the Heat in Game 2, but instead chose to pin it on mental errors, focus on effort. Which makes tons of sense, except for the fact that this move means that players who are not adept at combatting the Bulls' size, length and offensive rebounding ability, as evidence by the massacre on the glass in Game 1, will have to somehow change the outcome of Game 2 under the exact same circumstances.

Yes, the Heat need to try harder. Yes, they need to have more focus. Yes, they have to mentally adjust. But it also would have done no harm to activate either Dampier or Ilgauskas and deactivate either Magliore or Juwan Howard. Spoelstra can still rely on Joel Anthony in that situation, but hope for a spark from someone with legitimate size. Instead, the coach is carrying the banner of "Keep Calm, and Carry On." In the regular season, that's confidence. In the playoffs, that refusing to make key adjustments. Spoelstra will once again have to hope his three stars can save him from questionable decisions.  
Posted on: May 18, 2011 7:42 pm
 

LiveChat: Heat-Bulls Conference Finals Game 2

Join us at 8:30 p.m. EST for Game 2 of the Heat and Bulls' Eastern Conference Finals. We'll discuss such groundbreaking topics as:

  • Is Jamal Magliore actually alive?
  • Is Omer Asik the second coming of Thor?
  • Will LeBron's head cold force him to... do absolutely nothing differently?
  • Tom Thibodeau can't actually yell like that the whole time, can he?
All that an more, join us at 8 p.m. EST.

 
 
 
 
 
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