Before LeBron James moved more of his game to the post last year — before he became the most dangerous four in the league — he spent time in Houston with Hakeem Olajuwon. Working on his post moves.
Olajuwon was impressed. Impressed with LeBron’s physical skills, impressed with his mentality. And speaking with the Sun-Sentinel, Olajuwon didn’t shy away with a bold prediction for what the Heat can do next (hat tip SLAM).
“I think it will be much easier for him,” Olajuwon says. “All the pressure of, ‘OK, can he do it?’ That’s gone now.”…
“The goal is different,” Olajuwon says. “It’s not to prove a point to people. Now it’s just to take advantage of the opportunity: ‘Can we really achieve something great in the real sense? Can we get three out of five [championships]?’…
“That is a very realistic goal,” he says. “In fact, it’s scary.”
It is not 7, but it is realistic. Although far from easy. This season Miami should be the class of the East, which would send them to their third straight NBA finals. The road is not going to be smoother — there are teams lurking in the East if the Heat stumble, teams like the Celtics and Pacers are not far behind (with good teams like the Bulls still out there once Derrick Rose gets fully healthy). If you get past them the Thunder or Lakers will be waiting in the finals, both with plenty of talent.
But the Heat are more dangerous now because they figured out who they are as a team, they have embraced small ball.
This sure didn’t look like just another game for Kevin Durant – and not only because the Thunder beat the Warriors for the first time since he left.
The 108-91 Oklahoma City victory didn’t look like just another game for Russell Westbrook (34 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and four steals), either.
With the shot clock off in the fourth quarter and the game tied, Grizzlies big JaMychal Green put back Tyreke Evans‘ miss with a clutch flush. There’s a very fine line between ensuring the last shot and leaving time for an offensive rebound, and Memphis threated it almost perfectly.
Emphasis on “almost.”
The Grizzlies left the Mavericks 0.5 seconds, which Harrison Barnes used to bank in a 3-pointer – off a pinpoint bounce pass by Dennis Smith Jr. – to give Dallas a 95-94 win.
The Celtics didn’t have another comeback in them.
After overcoming a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Mavericks on Monday to extend its winning streak to 16 games, Boston lost to the Heat tonight, 104-98. The streak ends as the NBA’s longest since the Hawks won 19 straight during the 2014-15 season.
The Celtics trailed Miami by 16 in the fourth quarter then cut the deficit to only one with three minutes left. But Dion Waiters hit back-to-back 3-pointers, helping the Heat pull away.
Goran Dragic (27 points) and Waiters (26 points) led Miami, which needed a reason to feel good after losing three of four to fall to 7-9.
The Celtics, on the other hand, still have a four-game cushion over the rest of the Eastern Conference. This might help them regain focus.