The Eastern and Western Conference Finals have begun and two high caliber teams see themselves in an unlikely 0-2 hole. The pressure is now on the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Boston Celtics. Can the Thunder stop the dizzying offense of the San Antonio Spurs? How do the Boston Celtics figure out the Heat’s defense or stop the tandem of LeBron James and Dwayne Wade? The answer lies in the next couple of games in these respective conferences.
The Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs have had quite an easy run to the Western Conference finals. The Spurs are currently riding a 20-game win streak with their last loss dating back to April 11th against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Thunder, on the other hand, swept the defending champion Dallas Mavericks and easily took down the Lakers in 5 games. Both teams were hot heading into the Western Conference finals but only the Spurs were able to keep the flame going.
In the last two games Tony Parker has put a dent in the Thunder defense averaging 26 points a game. Along with Tony Parker, strong outings from Manu Ginobli and Tim Duncan have been giving the Thunder numerous problems. Kevin Durant and James Harden seem to be carrying their team in the past two games not only on offense but defense as well.
Durant’s 2.5 blocks a game and Harden’s 6.5 rebounds a game were not enough to put on hold on the Spurs offense. Many believe the problem with the Thunder is Russell Westbrook’s lack of passing throughout the series. In game 1 Westbrook shot an abysmal 7-21 from the field and towards the closing minutes of game 2, Westbrook took several bad shots with teammates either wide open or in good position to score.
The Eastern Conference finals between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat are a much more different series. The pressure is on the Heat to win the Larry O’Brien trophy this season after a surprising exit from the NBA Finals last year at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks.
After being tested by the Indiana Pacers in the previous series, the Heat managed to get it together and bring their well-known intensity to the Celtics. Behind LeBron’s 32 points and 13 rebounds, the Heat took care of the Celtics in game 1 showing that the Celtics were not the same team from their 2008 championship run.
Game 2 showed a slightly different Celtic team with a strong game plan that played with energy and intensity throughout. The Celtics held a strong lead going into halftime but of course the Heat being the great third quarter team they are showed the Celtics that were not going down that easy.
Rondo had an unforgettable performance with a career high 44 points and dished out 10 dimes scoring the Celtics last 12 points in overtime. Rondo’s efforts were not enough to hold off the Heat. LeBron’s 34 and Wade’s 23 points proved too much for the Celtics to handle late in the game.
Going into game 3 of these two finals leaves several questions on the table. Does the Oklahoma City Thunder have a chance now that they are in a 0-2 hole to stop the red hot Spurs? Is this the last series that we will see the Celtic’s big three together on the same team? Will the San Antonio Spurs sweep their way through the rest of the post-season? Will LeBron live up to his promise of not 1, not 2, not 3 championships starting this post-season? The answers to these questions can be found throughout the rest of this post-season starting with game 3 of the Western Conference finals between the San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics on TNT.
Written By: Mark Elibert