Michael Walton II is following the NBA throughout this playoff season.
Michael is a student, freelance writer and burgeoning high school basketball scout based in Chicago. He’s previously been published in TrueStar Magazine, the Redeye Chicago and thelyricallab.com.
After two games of the NBA Finals the series sits where most expected it to, all tied up 1-1 with the Miami Heat now at a narrow advantage due to their much-earned home-court advantage after swiping Sunday’s Game 2 at the appropriately warm AT&T Center in San Antonio.
Both teams have played well, each shooting better than 50 percent for the series so far. With a championship round that is shaping up to be one of the best in recent history, let us examine how we got to this point.
Air-Conditioning Makes a World of Difference
LeBron James will never be Michael Jordan, that much is obvious. James doesn’t play like MJ, and he certainly lacks the mental toughness (and apparently the conditioning), but one thing that James deserves credit for is his ability to respond strongly after failure. Since the start of the “Big Three” era in Miami, the Heat have won 13 straight games following a loss.
This ability to rebound after such colossal disappointments is rather impressive and its clear after all these losses the person who receives the most criticism for each loss is James. After a Game 1 performance in which James was one of two players with a positive plus/minus rating, he was still picked apart due to his cramps taking him out the game prematurely and basically giving the game to the Spurs.
In Game 2, Bron came out shooting, and responded with an impressive 35 points and 10 rebounds. With the A/C functioning, James played under control as well, hitting all three of his 3-point attempts and displaying the poise and mature shot-selection that we have all come to expect from him.
“I Know the Big Three….the REAL Big Three” (c) Rick Ross
Many teams have given their trio of stars the label of a“Big Three,” but I believe you have to earn that label through prolonged success and that is why the Spurs deserve more love.
The trio of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker are averaging 57 points per game so far this series with Parker and Ginobili each averaging 7.5 assists per game and all three are helping show that there are still stars in the NBA who enjoy passing the ball. The Spurs are playing basketball “the right way,” and basketball purists love it.
If the Heat win the title it is obvious that LeBron James will be the NBA Finals MVP, but a possible all-out battle could exist for the Spurs’ MVP should they take the Finals. Ginobili, Duncan, and Parker are all doing some serious ballin’ right now.
If the Spurs win the title I believe old-man Duncan should receive MVP for being a double-double machine at such an advanced age. Either way, it has to be said: long live the Big Three….the real Big Three.
“Free Throws, I Eat Those….Usually” (c) Rick Ross
The turning point in Game 2 occurred when the Spurs missed four consecutive free-throws during a sequence when they received two shots and the ball following Mario Chalmers being called for a flagrant 1 on Tony Parker.
Right after this shocking failure, LeBron James responded with a big 3-pointer that gave the Heat a one-point lead and helped set up their dominant run to close the game. The fact that the Spurs lost by three made their missed four-point swing even worse. The Spurs are shooting 60% from the free-throw line through the first two games of the Finals, for a team that shot nearly 80% from the charity stripe during the regular season, this is disheartening. The Spurs have a prolific offense, and a great defense anchored by Tim Duncan but no team exists without a weakness.
If the Spurs can not improve their free throw shooting in the Finals, they will be in trouble. They have shot ten more free throws than the Heat so far in this series, and it would be foolish for them not to take advantage of this surprising advantage in the free throw department, foolish and deadly.
Follow Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and on Facebook under Regal Radio; follow Michael on Twitter @ZenMasterMike