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Posts Tagged ‘Western Conference Finals’

You Can’t Touch Dirk Nowitzki

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No, this is not channeling MC Hammer. Well, not too much, anyway… So what if it is? I blame the “Can’t Be Touched 2011″ gem of a remix that leads this post, canonizing Dirk Nowitzki with such an eloquent song, courtesy of that well-known bard, Roy Jones, Jr. It’s clearly Nowitzki’s world, all of the time; so much so, in fact, his play can take your song and make it fresher, and much more appropriate.

More on Dirk’s ridiculousity after the jump >>

Kevin Durant’s Poster

It’s 1-1 in the Western Conference Finals as the Oklahoma City Thunder responded to their Game One loss with more great offense — I’m not sure the phrase “playoff defense” will, at any point, apply to this series — largely in part to James Harden’s beastly fourth quarter performance. Harden drained 10 crucial points in the deciding fourth as the Thunder held off the Mavericks, 106-100.

While Harden was indeed playing the role of closer quite successfully, the highlight of Game Two, however, was when Kevin Durant literally threw the ball down on Brendan Haywood. It wasn’t so much a dunk as it was a “get the **** out of the way” smash, something similar to Blake Griffin’s highly-celebrated throw down on the New York Knicks.

The difference being, Durant’s dunk came during the Conference Finals, making much more important than Griffin’s regular season offering.

After the jump, video and the poster image of Durant’s nasty slam >>

Dirk Nowitzki’s Bout of Perfection


See? This is what happens when the best-shooting 7-footer ever to play in the NBA gets hot from the free throw line. You get a chance to witness perfection. You also get a chance to see a record-setting performance from the charity stripe as Dirk Nowitzki surpassed the previous record of most free throw makes in a playoff game without a miss set by Paul Pierce.

aMore on Dirk’s record-setting night after the jump >>

Dirk Versus Kevin, Who Ya Got?

nowitzki_durant

While the match-up may be unexpected, that won’t stop the Western Conference Finals from starting tonight when Oklahoma City Thunder take on the Dallas Mavericks in their best-of-seven series. Granted, the absence of teams like the LA Lakers and San Antonio Spurs may be shocking to some, but these clearly are the two best teams playing currently for the Western Conference.

Sure, the Lakers might have had Phil, Kobe and Pau, but a lot of good that did while being unceremoniously swept out of the playoffs by the Mavericks.

KD or Dirk after the jump >>

Derek Fisher’s Wild Night

Fisher Lied

It’s safe to say that some Utah Jazz fans aren’t the biggest fans of Los Angeles Lakers clutch machine, Derek Fisher. Whether their initial reason for the fan-hate is legitimate or not, their dislike for the Lakers guard, especially now that the sweep is complete, now has reason. While folks like Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant are being praised for the Jazz series, especially the close-out game, the 12 points provided by Derek Fisher and Shannon Brown in the fourth quarter made all the difference in the game.

Fisher’s damage came from a early-fourth quarter 3-point bomb, that was quickly followed by a three free throws, courtesy of Deron Williams fouling Fisher during a 3-point attempt. Add to that Brown’s two fourth quarter 3-pointers, and you see how the 111-96 advantage got that point.

Yes, Bryant and Gasol finished the job, but without those four three-point plays, even more would’ve been required from the Lakers’ dynamic duo. Important 3-pointers and misguided fans aside, that wasn’t the extent of Fisher’s interesting night.

Highlights of Fisher’s night after the jump >>

About Kobe’s Fourth Quarter

Kobe Bryant

Before I go into this post, it should be noted I’m not a Denver Nuggets fan. I am, however, pulling for the underdog in the series, so I suppose that puts me in the “De facto” category. Besides the proliferation of Lakers fans — Where were these folks in the regular season? — famous or otherwise, I don’t really have any negative feelings towards Phil Jackson’s band of merry men. In fact, I picked the Lake Show to win this series in seven games.

Nevertheless, I’m confused by all this talk of Kobe showing why he’s the best closer in the game nonsense. Did folks look at his box score, see his 40 points (18 in the fourth) and just assume he was incredible down the stretch or did I miss something (very possible)?

The reason I ask this is because I’m curious:

More on Kobe’s night after the jump >>

A Crushing Loss for Denver?

Kenyon Martin

Did the Game 1 loss take Denver’s confidence away or is going to give them resolve going forward? A two-point loss in a playoff game you could’ve/should’ve won can be absolutely debilitating for a team’s confidence, but it doesn’t sound like the Nuggets are hanging their head — at least Chauncey Billups isn’t:

“I’m disappointed, but I’m not mad,” Billups said at his locker stall, preaching calm and then staying calm when Smith and rookie Sonny Weems swiped his license.

“We’re fine, man. We’ll have other opportunities.”

Apparently, the Nuggets’ locker room is loose enough to entertain practical jokes directed at team leaders, which, to me, is more telling than Billups’ statements. Of course, talking a good game and playing like your confidence is still intact are two different things. While players like Billups and Martin have been on the big NBA stage before, the rest of Denver’s nucleus has not.

Yes, Carmelo Anthony has played in some huge games in his basketball career — Final Four at Syracuse; the Olympics — they haven’t been in the NBA Playoffs or against a player like Kobe Bryant. One thing is for certain, if Denver wants to stay in the series, they would be wise to avoid the mindset of one Woody Paige.

Where George Karl’s Coaching Happens


It was a great Game 1 between Denver and Los Angeles. Just about everything an NBA Playoff person could ask for. Stupendous offensive performances by two of the league’s best players. Lead changes. Rough, but not dirty play. Drama. The list continues. Unfortunately, when the game came down to winning time — or in the Nuggets case, tie the game time — a poor coaching decision helped determine the outcome.

When Anthony Carter through the now-infamous pass to Trevor Ariza — Surprise! He plays for the other team! — it culminated a questionable strategy by Karl for sticking with him to begin with, let alone allowing one of the smaller players on the floor to inbound the ball against a taller defender.

Bill Simmons didn’t like the move. I didn’t either. Of course, there are no certainties here. Denver could’ve missed whatever game-tying shot they took, but the coaching decision that was made prevented them from even finding out.

In Karl’s defense, he didn’t have too much of a choice concerning Anthony Carter considering how poorly J.R. Smith was performing. With that in mind, I don’t think I’d be too trustworthy of Dahntay Jones in such a position either.

Then there’s the case of Denver’s missed free throws (23-35).

Nevertheless, Denver still had a chance to tie the game and if someone besides Carter throws the ball in — someone like Carmelo, perhaps — the game still might be going on. I’m guess it would be in its 20th overtime for that to happen, but one can dream, can’t one? For that, the responsibility falls directly on the head coach, who can actually control which player inbounds the ball.