Game 2 NBA Finals Preview

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After 3 days of air conditioning, cramps and sob stories from game 1, we are on the cusp of game 2. What is forgotten in all the noise is how surprising game 1 was turning out before LeBron waddled off the court. Miami was actually able to force turnovers (and a lot of them) and get into transition for easy baskets, which is something I did not think they’d be capable of doing against this Spurs team. But what is more surprising is despite having 20+ turnovers midway through the 3rd quarter, San Antonio was hanging right with Miami. You would think any team that turns the ball over that much would be pretty much done.

But cramps, Matt, CRAMPS!!!

Oh, God, those. Look, if this was anyone else, this wouldn’t be a story. But LeBron has a storied history of quitting on cities and franchises and also shrivelling up in key moments of key games. He’s also placed a gigantic target on his back by saying things like “no LeBron James’ team should lack confidence” all the way to the recent “I will be on the Mount Rushmore of NBA players when I’m done”. I don’t mind the confidence, but when say that, you have some lofty (wait, let me bold and underline that) lofty expectations to live up to from the greats of this league. Jordan played with food poisoning in a pivotal game 5 and scored 38 points and played in 44 minutes. Isiah Thomas severely injured his ankle in the 1988 finals, taped it up and went back out and set the record (that still stands to this day) for points in a quarter of a NBA finals game. Larry Bird played with chronic back pain, and returned from a concussion in the deciding game 5 against the Pacers in the 91 playoffs and led them to a victory.

Is this all a charade?

Is this all a charade?

Those are the expectations that LeBron James has made for himself. And before you give me the predictable “have you ever played with a cramp?” BS, let me explain something: I play Rugby. I’ve broken wrists, dislocated shoulders, torn tendons, fractured jaws, and still finished games. This cramping is nothing new for Lebron (remember game 4 in 2012?). You’d think, for something as preventable as cramps, he’d take every precaution for it to not happen.

In short, I think he punked out. If it was anyone else, I’d let it slide. But when I look at his history (and the fact that after being carried to the bench, he did nothing to try and stretch out the cramp), it’s impossible to ignore. And speaking of ignoring, it’s laughable that people only focus on LeBron here like he was the only playing in those “conditions” (how fucking soft is the league now though that a blown AC and it becomes “extreme conditions”? They make Tennis players look like warriors…). ESPN and fans are so quick to dismiss that everyone was exposed to that. It’s not like Jordan with the flu where everyone else was healthy and MJ was at a disadvantage. The more I think about it, he couldn’t handle the pressure and expectations. To him, imo, he is more concerned about his legacy than winning (which is actually very counter productive to his legacy) that he is willing to not try and take shortcuts (taking talents to South Beach, anyone?) than to persevere. That might sound harsh, but it’s happened too many times for me to give him the benefit of the doubt anymore.

Look, he (and his fans) can cry all they want about it, but maybe it’s time he stopped making excuses. It’s disrespectful to his teammates, the Spurs, and the game that he claims to “love so much”. As a mere fan of the game, I was insulted and embarrassed just watching it. And then the coverage of it made me sick. And those idiots at ESPN have the nerve to rave on and claim that LeBron is the best small forward of all time? Not in my universe. If LeBron can’t handle an arena without air conditioning, how in God’s name are we expected to believe that he would have survived (let alone dominated) in the 80’s and 90’s?

What a crock of shit. Best in the world? My arse. Isiah risked his entire career in a NBA finals game. Think about that.

Oh yeah, Game 2…

Everyone is expecting a huge bounce-back game from James, and I guess it is possible, but I think it’s more likely that the Spurs play better. As I mentioned before, in game 1, we saw a lot of sloppy play by San Antonio. Expect their passing to be crisp and a much cleaner game from them. All of this attention plays right into the Spurs hands. They don’t care about that. All they care about is winning, so they won’t be distracted. Duncan and Parker were relatively quiet in game 1, but I expect them to make some adjustments in the pick and roll game. Bosh played Duncan very well in game 1, but can he do that throughout the series? That’s a huge question mark for Miami. Diaw will be huge again for them off the bench and Manu needs to continue his strong play. This will be a long series, but I’m going with the Spurs in this game, and they take a 2-0 series lead.