The Boston Celtics are playing like a team determined to make one last Championship run, and the Miami Heat are starting to experience the meltdown that cost them the NBA tittle last June.
KG Sinks One Over James
After taking a commanding 2-0 series lead, the Heat have hit a wall, and as much as people are pitting their failures on LeBron James, it's their team defense that has them melting down late in games. I know LeBron hasn't been at his best in the final minutes in recent games, and even appeared to look winded in last nights ballgame, but he still put up 30 points and 13 boards and did his job for the most part. Unfortunately for Miami though, it wasn't enough, as the aging Boston Celtics seemed to be playing with more energy and fire than the young, hungry Miami Heat in the waning minutes Tuesday. Kevin Garnett showed up big in Tuesday's game and has taken advantage of Chris Bosh's absence which to me, has been a huge factor for Miami's struggles in this series. They simply have no inside scoring presence, and have relied purely on Dwayne Wade and LeBron James taking jumper after jumper. More to the point, Miami's supporting cast isn't as strong as Boston's and the Heat are going to need a few players to step it up and extend their game if they want to stay alive past Thursday night's game. James is great, Wade is great, but guys like Chalmers, Haslem, Battier and Mike Miller, who were supposed to be strong role players for the Heat, have simply failed in this series. As much as people like to blame LeBron for Miami's losses, just imagine what they'd be without him? He's actually the only reason why the Heat are where they currently are after the injury plagued year Dwayne Wade had. If the Heat's 2nd-tiere players, and Chris Bosh, can't get it going immediately, Miami won't be returning to the NBA Finals.
Westbrook Goes Over TD
In the West, the Thunder have taken a page out of Boston's book, coming back from a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead heading into game 6 Wednesday night, an elimination game for San Antonio. This series has been tooth and nail pretty much all the way through though, as every game besides game 3 has been decided in the final minutes of play and all have been single-digit victories. The Spurs are playing the Thunder tough, and I'm not ready to give up on them quite yet. Manu Ginobili has been the best player in this series, but much like with Miami, the Spurs are having trouble finding guys besides Manu, Parker and Duncan to give them offense. The Thunder have really made slowing Duncan a priority, putting stud defender Serge Ibaka on him defensively, and Ibaka has done an exceptional job. Their other stud defender, Thabo Sefolosha has also done a fine job defending in this series with 12 steals through 5 games. The Thunder still aren't getting great shooting from Russell Westbrook, but he's been doing other stuff to help make up for it, including a 12 assist, 4 rebound and 4 steal night in Monday's win. As long as Westbrook keeps distributing like he's been, Durrant keeps pumping in his 25-30 points and James Harden helps out with his 20 they're going to be fine. They have more than enough defense to win this series, so as long as they're young core doesn't go into any kind of offensive funk in the next few days, they'll be on their way to the Finals.