NBA Finals Preview

>> Tuesday

An interesting NBA Finals begins tonight as we see if the Heat can fulfill it's promise to bring championships to South Beach, while a group of old vets lead Dallas into the Finals with likely their last legitimate run to an NBA title. What makes the Dallas run so compelling is that no one has won before, aside from Rick Carlisle's title with Boston as a player. They also have Dirk Nowitzki, looking to vanquish demons from his last Finals appearance, against the Heat, along with Jason Terry, the other holdover from the 2006 Mavs team. Jason Kidd looks to erase his two title losses with the Nets, Peja Stojakovic looks to right a wrong from the 2002 Western Conference Finals and Shawn Marion will do the same after losses to the Spurs in the mid-2000s.

As for Miami, Dwyane Wade looks for his second title, while LeBron James tries to start making Scottie Pippen right (which he never could) about being a greater player than Michael Jordan. You can't even attempt to argue that until LeBron wins a title. Not when you're dealing with Jordan, who's competitive fire is greater than almost every superstar in history (probably just Russell is in the group, with Kobe a level below). The story for the Heat won't be their other guys, but if Chris Bosh continues to play at the level he showed against the Bulls, if Wade can make up for a weak (for him) series on offense and if LeBron can maintain the ruthlessness he demonstrated since Game 4 against the Celtics.

The matchup itself will be fun, as we'll wonder if Dirk or LeBron will be held by anyone. My guess; no one holds LeBron, while Dallas will survive the games which Dirk is hitting his shots no matter who's guarding him. After those two, it will be seen if the Mavs can hit from the perimeter, negating the Heat's advantage in halfcourt defense.

Prediction: Mavs in 6


Guest Post: NBA Eastern Conference Game 4 Preview

Chicago Bulls vs. Miami Heat Game 4 Preview

Current NBA Odds: Heat -5 O/U OFF

By: Mike Cooper of Coopers Pick

Even though 2 of the Big 3 of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade did not have the best Game 3 the Bulls could not contain the 3rd member of Chris Bosh, who scored 34 points on 13/18 shooting in the Miami win. Derrick Rose scored 20 points, but for the 2nd straight game he did not shoot the rock well (8/19 from the floor) and for the game Chicago shot 41.6%. The Bulls are not a high scoring team and they have to play much better D in Game 4, as in Game 3 the Heat shot 50.7% from the floor and this season the Bulls are 2-9 when an opponent shoots over 50%.

Interesting fact that the last team to win a Game 3 in the Eastern Conference semifinals and go on to lose the series was the 2005 Miami Heat.

In Game 3 in Miami the Heat beat the Bulls 96-85 and Miami covered the spread and the posted total went Over.

This season the Heat are 48-46-1 ATS and the Bulls are 56-38-2 ATS. The Heat are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 home games against the Bulls.

Game 4 is in Miami and the Heat have yet to lose at home in this post-season (7-0).

The Bulls did have a solid Game 3 on the boards out-rebounding the Heat by 9, but they have to shoot the rock better and attack the rim and not settle for jumpers. Rose, Luol Deng (6/13 14 points), and Carlos Boozer (8/19 26 points) all shot under 50% from the field and the Bulls only had 36 points in the paint.

Rose has to get it going, as he has struggled in the last couple of games with his shot and Chicago has lost both games. He only had 5 assists in Game 3 and 0 in the first half and if he is not hitting his shot he must dish out the rock more.

Joakim Noah is not a focal part of the Bulls offense, but he has to score off offensive boards and put backs. He only had 1 point in Game 3 and only had 5 rebounds. He has to be more physical inside and get some easy buckets in the paint as well as pull down more boards.

Betting Trends

Chicago is 11-3-1 ATS in their last 15 games against teams with a winning percentage above 60% and they have an Under record of 7-3 in their last 10 games after an ATS loss.

Miami is 4-0 ATS in their last 4 home games, 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games playing on 1 days rest, and they have an Over record of 5-0 in their last 5 home games. Since the beginning of the season my nba picks have said to watch out for the heat this season and right now there is no exception to that. It certainly will be an exciting game 4 in the NBA playoffs


Man, Screw Phil Jackson

>> Monday

Phil Jackson is on the verge of becoming the next Breff Favre. Will he come or will he go. Here's a question, though. Who Cares? Really, does it matter if he is 335 games over .500 in his career as a coach? Does it matter that he has 11 NBA Championships? He's a mediocre coach.

Go ahead and immediately downplay that notion that he is just an average guy. Players play and coaches coach. When you have the best players on the court you are going to win more often than you lose. Phil Jackson won 70% of the regular season games he coached. That's about 57 games won a year in an 82 game season. Big deal?

Everyone jumped on Eric Spoelstra and the Miami Heat for coming out so slowly to start the year and yet the team still won 58 games. It isn't that Spoelstra is a great coach, rather he has the best players on his team. There's no such thing as luck, it is just a matter of being in the right place at the right time. If Spoelstra had a horrible ensemble of players, he might get canned for a bad start, but the fact is he has the best players, much like Phil Jackson did his entire career.

Do you think that if Spoelstra had the same talent on his team for 20 years that he could consistently win 57 games? Without a doubt. But no one is ever going to claim that he was one of the best coaches. Is there an award for best manager of talent? Maybe that is what we could dole out to coaches like Phil Jackson and Eric Spoelstra.

I'm not saying Doc Rivers is the best coach either. Ask anyone who knows me and I was against Doc Rivers coming to Boston. These guys are in the NBA and if they can't get up to play then they won't win. It doesn't take a coach in the NBA to motivate players. This isn't the college game. Phil Jackson has always had the best player on his team, so it is only natural that he be one of the best coaches when it came to winning percentage.

What makes the best coach? A coach that takes his team to new levels, a coach that surpasses expectations. Should the Heat miss their expectations of winning a championship it wouldn't surprise me to see Phil Jackson come and take over. Why would Phil Jackson take over a team like the Sacramento Kings and show what kind of coach he really is? If he really is that great of a coach? Look at any other team in the West right now still playing and they should be defined as better coaches. They all won 56% or more of their regular season games and made the playoffs with far inferior teams. Do that consistently and they have a case.

Sure, no one knew that Jordan and Kobe would be the players they panned out to be when Phil first had them but the only way Jackson would coach is if he had the best players. So if Phil stays, it will only be in a spot beneficial to him. I give coaches like Larry Brown more credit for trying again and again, only to fail again and again. They are trying to flex their coaching muscle, aka, their minds. How hard is it to say, "Kobe, let's get a win, go take over"? It really is that easy and if any NBA team wants to give me a chance with elite players, I'll gladly put a few flex offense sets on a whiteboard and say "Hey, Superstar, go get me a win. And look to Superstar 2 and 3 if you can't get your shot."

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