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SRS BIZNESS: 2012 NBA Finals Preview

Miami coach Eric Spoelstra has taken a lot of heat (no pun intended) lately for a supposed inability to make adjustments and run real plays in the half court. As with most things in basketball media these days however, this perception is not entirely accurate. Here we’ll break down a few smart plays the Heat coach ran in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals to get going, and see how much of LeBron’s success was due to coaching and how much of it was all LeBron.

Play 1:

This was one of the first post up possessions for LeBron, and it came out of a set play. Bosh has the ball at the elbow, and Battier and Chalmers set staggered screens for LeBron so he can come free to the ball. Here LeBron executes a dribble handoff to Wade and follows the ball to set a screen. On the roll, LeBron seals Ray Allen on the mid post on the switch and backs the much smaller Allen down. He spins baseline and gets an easy jumper to get his half court game going.

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Last year, this year and next year: The state of the Dallas Mavericks

“That was our dress rehearsal” – Jason Kidd

Come on now, 6 picks and no one’s taken the defending champs?

“Never underestimate the heart of a champion” – Rudy Tomjanovich

— Me, a month ago

It has now been just over a week since the 2011 NBA Champions were swept unceremoniously out of the first round.

All year, I had been in denial, thinking that when the playoffs came around the veteran Mavericks would ‘flip the switch’ and start playing championship-calibre ball again. How laughable that seems in retrospect, as the Thunder absolutely overwhelmed this squad of old-timers with their athleticism, skill, and most tellingly, their hunger.

I could sit here and talk about chemistry, mental toughness, fight, and all of those intangible qualities that the Mavs lacked this year. They sucked on the road (13-20), they sucked in close games (4-26 when trailing after three quarters and 10-13 in games decided by five points or less), they got off to sluggish starts, and once they fell into a hole they lacked the fight to come back and win (6-22 after trailing in first quarter, including playoffs).

Last year the team was unflappable; they’d gone through so much collective disappointment that nothing phased them. In round one they shrugged off the disastrous Game 4 in Portland where they surrendered a 24 point lead (the biggest collapse in playoff history, at the time). In round two they walked into the defending champs’ house in Game 1 and came back from a 16 point halftime deficit. In round 3 they pulled off a 15 point comeback in just 5 minutes against the same Thunder. And as if one fourth quarter comeback on the road wasn’t enough, they did it again on the biggest stage, coming back from 15 down with 7 minutes left in Game 2 of the NBA finals. Dirk reflected the personality of this team in that series, as injuries, illness, none of it mattered. Every series, they were counted out but their mental toughness kept them in it.

Where did that mental strength come from, and where was it this year? The Mavericks’ 2011 summer transactions tell a large part of the story. Tyson Chandler was the guy everyone credited with being the as being their emotional and spiritual leader last year. This year he was replaced by a guy who came in out of shape and unmotivated last year because they brought in competition at his position.

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The 2012 NBA Playoffs: who will find true love and who will be forever alone?

The past year has been pretty good to me. My Mavericks finally broke through and won a ring for our beloved German, and in the most memorable and satisfying way imaginable. My Patriots made it all the way to the Superbowl, and although the game ended in heartbreak for me, it was great to see Tommy boy on the big stage once more. Hell even Arsenal won a trophy (fuck). On top of all that, I got into law school, I started this blog, and the immortal Andrew Mulligan follows me on twitter (along with 1600 others but still). But there is still one thing that still eludes me – the love of a good woman. 60% of the writers here at Double Technicals are in loving long terms relationships, and as a passive aggressive way to show how jealous I am of them, I have ranked the playoff teams in tiers, according to how steady a relationship they have with the Larry O’Brien trophy.  I know it sounds a little convoluted but I promise it’ll make sense as you read on. Being full time students, none of us could do the preview by ourselves, so we decided to split the preview up between three of us. To do this we did a “fantasy draft” of teams we would write about, and went in turns to pick the teams in order of most likely to winning the title this year.

Here we go.

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