John Hollinger (Insider) expects a razor-thin margin to separate the Heat and Thunder, with Chris Bosh's health making a big difference: "Remember, we should expect both teams to have at least two of their three stars on the floor for virtually every meaningful minute. Comparing their performance in those situations, then, only make sense. With all three of their main stars on the floor -- Durant, Westbrook and Harden -- the Thunder outscored opponents by 10.6 points per 48 minutes this year; with two of those three playing, they were +5.0. That's outstanding ... but it's not as good as Miami. With their Big 3 together, the Heat swamped opponents by 12.8 points per 40 minutes, according to NBA.com's advanced stats tool. With at least two of them on the court, they were +7.1. So Miami, in the situations we'd expect to see in this series, has about a two-point per game edge on the Thunder."
Some neat diagrams to help you compare and contrast top prospects in the upcoming NBA Draft.
Pertinent to any rebuilding franchise: When the now dominant Thunder were plain awful, the team surrounded its future superstars with veteran "good guys" of the NBA.
Looking forward to seeing former NBA referee Steve Javie helping to explain tough calls during ESPN's broadcasts of the NBA Finals.
Ethan Sherwood Strauss writes on HoopSpeak about the thrill of watching Rajon Rondo: "Not only does Rondo thrive in the aforementioned chaos, but he has an ingenious way of creating it. He’ll often stand in one place, throwing fake passes through the air. The defense is more likely to move than the ball is, even if they know to watch for this. Some defenders bite on the fakes, others don’t. The space he opens up isn’t predictable, like a pocket pass avenue in a pick-and-roll. A faked out defense can be a mish mash of players flying and flailing in overlapping directions. But in the mess, he sees angles that will form a split-second later. Chaos triggers his prescient instincts. Rondo shakes up a snow globe and it becomes his crystal ball."
Michael Lewis's Princeton Baccalaureate Remarks hold some wisdom on luck, opportunity and success.
SI's Zach Lowe on the enduring legacy of Boston's Big Three: "In that half-decade of greatness, the Celtics changed the way NBA teams play defense and staked their claim as one of the greatest defensive cores in basketball history. Boston ranked first, second, fifth, first and first in points allowed per possession the last five seasons, and its basic philosophy and scheme now appear all over the league. It was a scheme built around both Garnett and the abolition of the old illegal defense rules, a sea change that allowed players to guard territory rather than individual opponents. The change allowed Garnett, in particular, to roam around the floor and orchestrate the roving of his teammates. He was the ideal defender, working under an ideal coach (former Boston assistant Tom Thibodeau) at an ideal time in the NBA’s rulebook history."
Neil Paine (Insider) on how Kevin Durant and the Thunder will defend LeBron James: "With Durant guarding him, James takes about 5 percent fewer shots from within a 5-foot radius of the basket. Moreover, James shoots less and passes more, which sounds like just about every criticism of James' crunch-time playing style since 2010. The overall stats are still superhuman, but they're less so than usual, and that's all the Thunder are asking of Durant on defense. With Wade occupying all of Sefolosha's attention, Oklahoma City will need Durant to at least slow down James, to tug on Superman's cape while matching his output at the offensive end."
Kevin McHale is optimistic that Andrew Bynum, who struggles at times with double teams, will become a better passer from the post: "'You learn pretty quickly, because in the NBA especially, when you start getting double-teamed a lot and when teams have success, they’ll do it every single night. Bynum a year from now will be a very good post passer. He’ll know where to go, he’ll be relaxed, he’ll read it, and pass it out. Then you’ve got murder on your hands because the guy can score down there and he can pass out. And any time two (players) guard one in our league, three have got to guard four. And three cannot guard four in the NBA, the players are too good.'"
Howard Beck on the "possibility and depth" of a LeBron James-Kevin Durant rivalry.
What do the Twitter personalities of the stars of the NBA Finals look like?