Miami Heat v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game One

NBA finals Game 2, Heat-Thunder: We expect a better Miami, is that enough?

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Every time they have really been challenged these playoffs, the Miami Heat have been able to summon enough focus and resolve to get the wins they need. Down 2-1 to the Pacers, they rallied. Down 3-2 to the Celtics, they rallied.

Down 1-0 to the Oklahoma city Thunder in the NBA finals, you can bet the Heat will show some resolve with a better effort in Game 2.

The question is, will that be enough this time?

For the first time in the playoffs, the Heat have ran into a team where they are not more athletic, not faster, not just physically superior. The Thunder are their equal, and the Thunder are much deeper. Oklahoma City played the Sixth Man of the Year, James Harden, just more than four minutes in the fourth quarter of Game 1 because Thabo Sefolosha was playing too well to take him out. That’s depth.

We know what Miami needs to do to get back in this.

For one, no coasting. Particularly on defense. This goes back to them summoning resolve — Miami has up to now been able to get by playing 24 minutes of really great basketball, they can do that no longer. There must be sustained execution at both ends of the floor. No stagnant offense that results in a LeBron James long two. No miscommunications on defensive rotations that allow guys to waltz to the rim.

Miami needs much more out of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. For Wade that is particularly on the defensive end, where he cannot just get torched by Russell Westbrook again. In Game 1 Westbrook blew by him like Wade was a pylon. The Heat do not have Tyson Chandler back there to wipe out their perimeter defensive mistakes, they need to play better defense on the wings. And much better in transition.

Bosh will start and the Heat should try to establish him a little on the block early.

LeBron needs to be exceptional. Not good, but both an offensive force and a guy who gets physical with Kevin Durant and forces him into a pedestrian shooting night. Durant can’t get 36 and be efficient in the fourth quarter if the Heat want to win. Doesn’t matter how tired LeBron gets, he has to power through it. Anything less than exceptional and the Heat will struggle.

And Miami needs something from their bench. LeBron can do a lot but only so much. Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers can’t just be hot for a half then disappear, they need to play 48 minutes.

And all that may not be enough.

Oklahoma City can play better defense as a team. Sefolosha will be draped all over Wade and Serge Ibaka will be in the lane waiting for LeBron to drive. Another big game from Nick Collison would be huge.

And you know James Harden isn’t just scoring five points in Game 2. His beard will get five from the free throw line alone.

Game 2 will give us a better idea of where this series really stands. It’s closer than the second half of Game 1 showed.

But it still may not be close enough for the Heat. Not in Oklahoma City, where the Thunder players are so, so comfortable.

Former Magic player Keith Appling arrested for third time in four months

Orlando Magic's Keith Appling (15) makes a shot in front of Philadelphia 76ers' Jerami Grant (39) and Nerlens Noel (4) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
AP Photo/John Raoux
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Former Magic player Keith Appling was arrested in May.

Former Magic player Keith Appling was arrested in June.

Former Magic player Keith Appling was arrested in August.

Robert Allen of the Detroit Free Press:

Former Michigan State basketball player Keith Appling was arrested after a traffic stop Sunday, his third arrest since May, Detroit police said.

Appling, 24, was pulled over at about 9 p.m. on the city’s east side after driving away from a traffic stop, and a gun was found in a bag on the side of the road, according to an Associated Press report.

Kyle Lowry wishes Bismack Biyombo a happy 48th birthday

TORONTO, ON - MAY 27:  Bismack Biyombo #8 talks to Kyle Lowry #7 of the Toronto Raptors in the first quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers in game six of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Air Canada Centre on May 27, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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Bismack Biyombo might have left Toronto, but he didn’t escape jokes about his age from the Raptors.

Biyombo – according to official records, which have been disputed – turned 24 yesterday.

Unofficially? Kyle Lowry:

Hakeem Olajuwon, David Stern enshrined in FIBA Hall of Fame

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 27:  Hakeem Olajuwon (L) greets NBA Commissoner David Stern looks on during the 2013 NBA Draft at Barclays Center on June 27, 2013 in in the Brooklyn Bourough of New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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The FIBA Hall of Fame (not to be confused with the Basketball Hall of Fame, which is not to be confused with the NBA Hall of Fame, which doesn’t exist) enshrined Hakeem Olajuwon and David Stern in its 2016 class.

Olajuwon won a gold medal with Team USA in the 1996 Olympics. A Nigeria native, he has helped promote basketball in Africa.

After growing the sport’s popularity stateside, Stern pushed to globalize basketball as NBA commissioner.

The full list of 2016 inductees:

PLAYERS
Panagiotis Fasoulas (Greece)
Hakeem Olajuwon (Nigeria/USA)
Manuel Raga (Mexico)
Juan Antonio San Epifanio (Spain)
Michele Timms (Australia)
COACH
Jorge Canavesi (Argentina)

CONTRIBUTOR
David J. Stern (USA)

The criteria:

The over-riding objective of the Hall of Fame is to reflect the history of the sport.
The honour may be awarded posthumously.
The key conditions for induction to the FIBA Hall of Fame are:
•    Outstanding achievement at the international level from a personal effort or initiative
•    Having contributed to the performances of players, technical officials, coaches, and administrators or to the global development of basketball.

Olajuwon and Stern seem to fit the bill.

Now, if only there were a Hall of Fame that appropriately recognized NBA achievements.

Blake Griffin went back to Oklahoma for alumni weekend, heard Thunder recruiting pitch

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Blake Griffin reportedly doesn’t want to leave Los Angeles when his contract is up next summer. This is a guy who has done stand up, is executive producer of a television show, and is generally loving the perks of living in Los Angeles.

Still, the dream lives on in Oklahoma City that he will come in and be the next star there and pair with Russell Westbrook.

Griffin was back in his native Oklahoma for alumni weekend with the OU basketball team, and he heard the sales pitch.

Griffin blows this off, just like he is going to try to blow off the dozens and dozens of reporters who will ask him about his summer plans during the season.

But he has to know the recruiting pitches are coming all season, especially when he visits OKC.