The Heat had largely cruised through these playoffs unscathed before Saturday night’s Game 3 loss to the Nets, winning all six contests before that and being rarely challenged to this point of the postseason.
But after falling under a barrage of three-point bombs and looking largely uninspired throughout much of the second half, LeBron James and his teammates may finally be feeling as though the postseason has arrived.
From Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com:
“It has felt like the playoffs and it hasn’t,” Chris Bosh said of the past few weeks. “We didn’t have that desperation in this game, but usually, a loss will do that and you’ll come back with it.” …
“This is a series now,” James said. “I’ve been part of a lot of series. I understand it’s never won in two games.”
This is the first bit of adversity Miami has faced in the team’s bid to get back to a fourth straight Finals, and a let down at some point was to be expected, especially against a veteran-loaded team like the Nets that, perhaps more than any other, isn’t likely to be intimidated by the Heat’s championship resume.
Game 4 means everything for Brooklyn, just as Game 3 did before it. Going down 3-1 would put the Nets in an essentially impossible situation, and it will be no easy task surviving what’s sure to be a bounce-back effort from the Heat in the next one.
There’s an old playoff saying, however, that states that a series doesn’t truly begin until one team wins on the other’s home floor, either stealing or solidifying the home-court advantage. A Nets win that would tie the series at 2-2 wouldn’t upset that balance, even though reducing this round to a best-of-three would certainly intensify the feeling from James that his team has finally begun to experience a challenge.
Billy Donovan was given the head coaching job in Oklahoma City to bring their offense into modern times — and it seems to be working, Russell Westbrook said he feels a lot more space in the system.
But if the Thunder are going to contend for a title, they need a top 10 defense as well — and to do that Donovan is going to keep a Scott Brooks move and continue to start Andre Roberson and Steven Adams. Check out the starting lineup for their first preseason game Wednesday.
There also was this report via Anthony Slater in the Oklahoman yesterday about a scrimmage at practice.
Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Andre Roberson all started for the White team. Nick Collison joined them, but that was only because Steven Adams sat out with back soreness….
Donovan said the teams weren’t split by accident. That’s how they’ve been divided in practice. So at this point, it seems Roberson is this team’s starting shooting guard and Adams is the team’s starting center.
This is the smart move. Last season the lineup of Westbrook, Roberson, Durant, Ibaka and Adams was +13.4 points per 100 possessions over their opponents. Roberson and Adams are there for defense — neither brings much offensive game to the floor, but when you have Westbrook and Durant and only one ball between them, you don’t need more offensive threats. You’re going to get plenty of points.
If they can just stay healthy, Oklahoma City is a team to be feared.
The Hall of Fame player behind the original iron man streak is with us no more.
Knicks’ legend Harry Gallatin passes away at age 88, the team confirmed Wednesday.
Gallatin led the Knicks of the late 1940s and into the 1950s, when he set a then record playing in 610 consecutive games. Nicknamed “The Horse,” he was a beast on the boards who averaged 15.3 rebounds a game one season and averaged 11.9 boards and 13 points per game over the course of his 10-year career. He’s still fourth all time in total rebounds in Knicks franchise history.
Gallatin was a seven-time All-Star and twice All-NBA selection. After his playing days, he spent many years as the athletic director at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends.