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Friday, June 22, 2012

A Historic NBA Playoffs

Forget the fact that this NBA season was shortened and compressed to 66 games and focus on the playoffs. We don't need to focus on the polarizing figure of Lebron James but his accomplishments shouldn't go unnoticed. These NBA Playoffs have seen tightly contested series, sweeps, heartbreaks and relief. This is drama the NBA should keep in its record books.

Historically Bad
Back in the opening round between the No. 2 Miami Heat and No. 7 New York Knicks, the Knicks made a bit of history in their 4-1 series loss to the Heat. Although, this is the type of history they would have liked to avoid. After losing Game 3 to the Heat, the Knicks earned the honors of having the longest postseason losing streak in NBA History. They hadn't won a postseason game since Game 3 against the Toronto Raptors (when they had Vince Carter) in 2001. They had gone a decade without reaching the playoffs or winning a playoff game. It wasn't until Game 4 that the Knicks snapped that streak.

Historical Comebacks
While the NBA saw comebacks, there were really four comebacks worth noting in the NBA Playoffs:
No. 4 Memphis Grizzlies vs No. 5 LA Clippers in Game 1 - erasing 24-point deficit in 4th quarter to win. Up until Brandon Roy's amazing comeback with the Blazers against the Dallas Mavericks, there were large comebacks. The Clippers looked like they couldn't hit water if they fell out of a boat and then suddenly, they caught fire when Memphis died down. The Clippers finished to win on a 28-3 run.

No. 1 San Antonio Spurs vs No. 5 LA Clippers in Game 3 - erasing 24-point deficit & taking lead on 24-0 run. The Clippers were well on their way to getting back into the series after being down 2-0 to the Spurs. They had a 24 point lead early in the 2nd quarter and then the Spurs show off their Championship prowess. They cut the lead to 10 at the halftime and they went on a 24-0 run to run past the Clippers and put them down for good.

No. 1 San Antonio Spurs vs No. 2 Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 6 - erasing 17-point deficit to close out Spurs. The Spurs were on the brink of elimination and came out with nothing to hold back. They built a 17-point lead and went into halftime with a 15-point lead. The Thunder responded with a blitzing fury which the the Spurs eventually submitted to. The Spurs were outscored 159-36 in the second half as the Thunder closed out the series.

No. 2 Oklahoma City Thunder vs No. 2 Miami Heat in Game 4 - erasing an early 17-point deficit in 5-6 minutes in 2nd quarter. The Thunder were desperate to get back into the series being down 2-1. They jumped to a large 33-16 lead. However, it only took the Heat the next 5-6 minutes to erase the led and tie the game at 35. The run by the Heat propelled them to win a tightly contested Game 4 and take the 3-1 lead in the series.

Historic Success
The San Antonio Spurs rode a 20-win streak in the playoffs (including a 10-game win streak at end of regular season). They looked unbeatable and no team has had with 10 straight wins to start the playoff since the 2001 LA Lakers. The Spurs did not win the Championship but when you go almost 2 months without losing, it's worth mentioning.

One of the Greatest Championship runs of all time
Say what you want about King James or the all-glamorous Miami Heat but at least recognize this great Championship run. This was not the typical Championship run. Take all the criticism and pressure the shoulders of the Miami Heat and Lebron James and then look at their run. They easily dismantled the New York Knicks which is what most expected.

They took on a punkish-Indiana Pacers team and lost Chris Boash in Game 1. The team seemed lost and every one was writing them off after falling behind 2-1 to the Pacers. They then responded with a 101-93 win where Lebron James had 40 points, 18 rebounds and 9 assists.  They continued and won the final 2 games to wipe out the Pacers.

They then took up the gritty champions in the Boston Celtics. They were pushed and pushed to the edge of elimination. They were down 3-2 with Game 6 in Boston and Lebron James came up with the one of the greatest performances in NBA Playoff history. He posted 45 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists. That hasn't happened in the playoffs since Elgin Baylor was around which was 30-40 years ago. The Heat Showed their toughness with their backs against the wall and vanquished their rivals in the Celtics 4-3.

Finally, the Heat took on the unbelievable Oklahoma City Thunder team, who the Heat were underdogs against. The Thunder won 105-94 in Game 1 and everyone seemed to believe the Thunder would make short work of the Heat. Then the Heat stole one in Game 2 in Oklahoma City by jumping the Thunder right from the get-go with a 16-2 lead. Many still believed the Thunder would win 1-2 games in Miami but that's not what the Heat thought. They held down Scoring Champ Durant to 25 points while Lebron posted 29 points. They held off a 43-point game performance by Russell Westbrook in Game 4 and recovered from a 33-16 deficit. With Mario Chambers coming up clutch with many 3-pointers and fantastic runners or layups. In the clinching game, Lebron posts a triple-double with 26 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds. The Hat responded to a Game 1 disappointment and pulled off 4 straight wins in the NBA Finals to dismantle the Thunder.

You can't script a playoff run like this. You can't deny a run like this. This is the most polarizing team in NBA history with the most polarizing figure in NBA a history. They rose above it all and and are now the NBA Champions. Congratulations to the 2011-2012 NBA Champions: The Miami Heat.

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