OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoman/NewsOK.com interns made their picks for the 2012 NBA Finals:
Bryce Arens: Thunder in seven.
Andrea Gicalone: Thunder in six.
Olivia Ingle: Thunder in five.
Arielle Retting: Thunder in seven.
Nasreen Iqbal: Thunder in six.
Celia Ampel: Thunder in six.
Li Lin: Thunder in five.
Joey Stipek: Heat in seven.
Carmen Forman: Thunder in five.
Kyle Fredrickson: Heat in six.
Taylor Eldridge: Heat in seven.
RJ Young: Heat in six.
Anthony Slater: Heat in six.
Connor Rohwer: Thunder in seven.
(This post will be updated as more interns weigh in.)
What say you?
– That Intern, RJ Young
Hey Thunder fans intern Bryce here. The staff at The Oklahoman wants to know if you have interacted with any Thunder players away from the court and have a story to share. Thunder coverage is making its way into all parts of the paper and with your help we can tell personal stories of how Thunder players are involved in OKC and the state of Oklahoma. You can send your stories or photos to myself at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out http://newsok.com/ for continued Thunder coverage throughout the finals.
For the Lakers, Kobe played the way he was supposed to. As Marc Jackson would say, “Mama, there goes that man!” And that man went anywhere and everywhere he wanted shooting 10 of 22 for 30 points. Kobe also made it to the line 10 times and dished out 6 assists and 7 rebounds. That’s a pretty good all-around game for him.
The dark horse, Ron Artest, also came up big in game one with 15 points, 2 steals, and some much needed toughness. The defense was not there the whole time, but the Lakers stepped it up when they needed to. A bad sign for the Celtics is that all four starters for the Celtics scored in double digits (except Perkins who was close, with eight) and even the bench for the C’s contributed 16, behind Rasheed’s 9. If the Celtics played this well and still lost, they may be in for some trouble. The Raison D’Etat for the Lakers’ big win was physicality. Hmmm, what happened to all that tough talk from the Celtics?
Limiting the C’s to a halfcourt offense and making Rondo walk the ball up the court will also give the Lakers an advantage when it comes to dictating the flow of the game. The slower the game is for the Lakers, the better.
Game 2, Rondo was more assertive and comfortable playing quality minutes. Patience, agressive drives and finesse defined Rondo in Game 2. After that up and under move on L.A.’s Bynum, it was apparent that Rondo was here to play. However, Game 2 was also the same story for KG. He was nonexistant. KG picked up two early fouls in the first five minutes being sent to the bench, again. In Game 1, KG had 16 points shooting 7 of 16, but he did a poor job boxing out and defending the Twin Towers (Gasol and Bynum). In Game 2, he was non-existant, shooting 2 of 5 for 6 points. But give KG a little credit because he knew he was in another one of his offensive funks, so he started getting others involved with his 6 assists for the game. When there is slack to be picked up, Ray Allen can do it. He did it by setting the tone of the game early, setting an NBA Finals record for most threes in a game (that’s eight) and 25 points before the half.
Rondo added in recording another triple double for the playoffs and hitting a key jumper with about 2:00 left in the game (and what about that Hakeem Olajuwon fake up and under on Adnrew Bynum?). Teams scout Rondo by playing off of him, daring him to shoot and we are all aware that his shot is suspect. But when his adrenaline gets going, he can get into the zone and knock down clutch shots like he did in Game 2.
Did someone say clutch? If so, Nate Robinson has to be trailing around here somewhere. When this guy gets into the game, he makes his minutes count. For a player that was traded in February and to not have been playing until Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Nate Robinson is a gift from the gods. Nate can also thrown in some confusion to the defense as was seen in Game 2 because with Rondo running the point, the defense plays under screens. When Nate is in, the defense has to choose to play up or under the screen, but Nate is a pure scorer, so this is no easy choice for a Laker defender. When the Lakers play under, Nate makes them pay. He can also get to the line and provide the C’s with explosive athleticism and emotional fortitude.
As for the Lakers, they were outrebounded and 10 assists below the Celtics with only 18 assists. Championship teams move the ball around, play hard defense, and move like a cohesive unit. The Lakers were a unit in Game 1. In Game 2, it became the Kobe Bryant Lakers as we have become all too familiar with. The Lakers won Game 1 because Kobe trusted his teammates and passed the ball before the double team came. Where was that trust in Game 2? Kobe was trying to do too much. Odom and Artest were struggling and Kobe should have seen that as veteran player with his kind of resume. Gasol and Bynum played great, establishing a force down low, but those points were off of offensive rebounds and “one-touches” in the post because of the Triangle Offense. Lakers also shot 40% from the field and a dismal 22% from three point range (5 of 22).
Poor defense, poor shooting, and a lack of trust kept the Lakers from winning Game 2. I’m sure this won’t be an issue for the next couple of games. The Lakers played a bad game and lost. The C’s played a good game in Game 1, but still lost. The Celtics can win if they play with more intensity and desire because they don’t have the youth, athletic ability, and length like the Lakers.
The urgency was there for the Celtics and from all personnel in Game 2. Doc Rivers jumping out onto the court to call a crucial timeout, one second before the Celtics would have received a backcourt violation was another tone setter from a coach who tries to keep his cool most of the time, but we all know he’s dying to keep his excitement contained during those times. And Glenn “Big Baby” Davis was laying his body out for loose balls every second he was on the court. Lakers can win if they just avoid bad games like in Game 2. They need to get more of their players involved in the game. So far, only a few Lakers get it going each game. Artest and Odom are the key factors for the Lakers. No one knows when they will be ready to play. And for the C’s, KG needs to be called the “Little Ticket” because the only show he’s taking his team to is the dollar movie while they’re playing reruns of the latest movie disaster.
I can admit when I was wrong. And I was. The Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA Finals in five games.
However, there weren’t flaws in my arguments. The Magic had, to that point, played better when no one believed in them (see Games 2-4). And, with the exception of the first and last games, the Magic were not adversely destroyed by poor matchups against the Lakers. The Orlando Magic were not beat by the Los Angeles Lakers, though the Lakers helped some. The Orlando Magic beat themselves.
I didn’t realize the Magic’s lack of an ability to finish games. If the Magic had the ability to close out when given opportunities, the series would have been 3-1 Magic going into Game 5 in Orlando. In that situation, I would have been right and the Magic would be celebrating.
However, the Magic apparently can’t finish games or capitalize on fourth-quarter closing-seconds opportunities. In nearly identical situations, games 2 and 4 were tied with mere seconds on the clock and the Magic had the ball. Game 2: In-bound to the only person I wouldn’t in-bound the ball to. Lee misses the game-winning layup, Lakers win in overtime. Game 4: With four seconds to work with, the Magic couldn’t get a crucial shot to tie the series up. Lakers win in overtime.
Maybe it was the Magic’s inability to finish games that The Oklahoman’s NBA Finals predictors saw that I didn’t. Maybe it’s because I’m an intern and they’ve been doing what they do a long time. Either way, I was wrong. They were right. And the Magic disappointed me.
Wow. Did I grab your attention?
Yesterday The Oklahoman’s top sports writers told who they like in this year’s NBA Finals. Watch and read content here. But I think they are all wrong.
All five writers chose the Lakers in either five or six games, meaning they think the Magic will win only one–two at most–game in the series. And I don’t think that will happen.
If I’m not mistaken, wasn’t Boston supposed to deal with Orlando in five? Or Cleveland. “The Chosen One.” Wasn’t Lebron supposed to easily hurdle over the minor roadblock that was the Magic?
The entire postseason people have been second-guessing the Magic. Even when they took a series lead against Boston, analysts and experts said the Celtics had their wake-up call and would respond by winning the series. Remember all the talk after Game 2 of the series with Cleveland? That RIDICULOUS 3-pointer Lebron hit to put the Magic away (on my birthday)? People said King James would take control of the series and Orlando’s magic run in the playoffs was over.
But here we are. Magic and Lakers. NBA Finals. Guess who is the underdog for the third straight series in the postseason?
But I think it’s OK. I’m glad the sports writers chose the Lakers. I don’t think the Magic would win it otherwise.
The thing about the Magic is that they play best when few believe in them. They’re the NBA’s “Cinderella” team. But anyone who’s seen them play cannot discount the fact that Dwight Howard, Hedo Turkoglu, Rafer Alston, Mickael Pietrus and the rest have played ridiculously incredible basketball the last few weeks, even without Jameer Nelson.
They took the Boston series and won the conference title against Lebron and the Cavs while the Lakers limped through the playoffs, a meltdown game coming every two or three contests.
The whole time, as no one has believed in them, the Magic have been playing better and better and better. The Lakers, as everyone believes them destined to win, have been playing sloppy and lackadaisical basketball.
My point is that no one believes the Magic have a chance. That’s why MY prediction is Magic in six.