Walking a mile in someone’s shoes, isn’t as easy as first thought
With the NBA Playoffs still taking shape , several teams have now made it to the next round with the conference semi-finals set to begin as of Tuesday , 5th May. Yet, the biggest story of the Playoffs has nothing to do at all with the play of the teams, but the rather surprising decision was the firing of Scott Brooks by the Oklahoma City Thunder front office , led by GM Sam Presti. The decision had the blessing of the team’s best player Kevin Durant , who acknowledged Brooks’ contributions to the franchise’s success and his own growth and success as a player and as a draftee by the Thunder.
Billy Donovan, having formally been introduced as the new head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder , answers questions from the convened press at the Chesapeake Energy Center , Oklahoma City , Oklahoma . Donovan has signed a lucrative five-year deal with the franchise, The main objective for the Thunder will be to secure the services of Kevin Durant signing him to a max contract , building the roster around the reigning League MVP and teammate Russell Westbrook . AP Photo/ Chris Wright
Scott Brooks should not be solely to blame for the team’s missing of the NBA Playoffs , with the loss of Kevin Durant due to a season-ending injury. A loss of this magnitude , would have a profound effect on any team, but somehow this all seems to have been overlooked by the front office as well as the senior partners who make up the ownership group of the Western Conference based franchise.
Sam Presti has been quick to hire a successor to Scott Brooks, with the organization formally announcing the hire of Billy Donovan , the two-time NCAA National Tournament championship winning coach of the Florida Gators . If Donovan brings along with him the type of coaching acumen seen with the collegiate program , then the continued success of the Oklahoma City Thunder would seem assured. Kevin Durant for his part , I believe will remain with the franchise , rather than seeking to opt out of the final year of his contract with the franchise !
Of the first round series still in force, perhaps the most competitive and thrilling might happen to be the Western Conference series between the Los Angeles Clippers and the defending NBA champions the San Antonio Spurs. The series has been encapsulated by the play of two seasoned veterans, point guard Chris Paul of the Clippers and power forward, Tim Duncan of the Spurs.
With their series tied at three games apiece (3-3) the series’ deciding seventh game will be played at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California on 2nd May, 2015 in front of a sellout crowd likely to be cheering on the home team. For Clippers’ head coach Doc Rivers the emphasis will be about having his players prepared as they meet the onslaught likely to be thrown at them by Gregg Popovich and this Spurs’ team . These are two evenly matched teams , competitive at almost every position on the court , but it all now comes down to willpower and being able to meet adversity square on , without flinching. History indicates, the team winning game six of a Playoff series’ more often than not , takes with them the advantage going into the deciding contest and it would appear the advantage now lies with the Los Angeles Clippers. Yet, it would take a bold individual to believe the San Antonio Spurs can be counted out of this series altogether.
When Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls went down to what was believed to a season-ending injury , no one believed the former League MVP would be making a return to the team’s lineup during the NBA Playoffs. Rose has been instrumental in getting the Bulls into the position, where they have made it to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals , having destroyed the Milwaukee Bucks in their series (4-2) , with an emphatic game-six win , where the margin of victory, was an astounding fifty-four points with the 120-54 destruction of the Bucks.
Old rivalries will be renewed when the Cleveland Cavaliers play host to the Chicago Bulls in game one of their Eastern Conference Semi-Finals’ Series . Nemesis’ LeBron James and Derrick Rose may well go head to head , but I believe the play of Jimmy Butler will be so pivotal in this series !
The Cavaliers will be without Kevin Love for this series, after the player’s injury, suffered during the series against the Boston Celtics in what appeared to be a provocative and deliberate attempt by the Celtic’ Kelly Olynyk to injure the Cavaliers’ power forward . Olynyk denies the claims, his intent was to injure the player, with the game officials failing to act and the league hierarchy failing to penalize Kelly Olynyk . The NBA Playoffs will once again be questioned, as to ongoing ineptitude of the officiating and the league’s failure to act.
I have never been enamored with the NBA’s referees, as I believe them to be far too willing to be part of the problem, rather than simply showing their acumen and knowledge of the game. Inconsistent officiating, with the ongoing stupidity, first shown by former NBA Commissioner David Stern, to repeatedly back the referees, has simply indicated the NBA remains behind the times and that Stern’s all too autocratic rule, has now led to the ruination of not only the NBA , but also the quality of the game itself.
I was once told, is was not David Stern’s fault for the lackluster quality of the play within the NBA , but almost at every juncture, with regard to the countless rule hanges made over the past fifteen years, Stern’s imprints have been there for everyone to see. Only a complete idiot, would believe the now retired league executive , was not to be faulted.
Fate may well deal someone a blow this season, with regard to a number of the regular season NBA Awards to be handed out . Mike Budenholzer won the NBA Coach of The Year Award . Andrew Wiggins was named NBA Rookie of The Year and Kawhi Leonard beat out Draymond Green for NBA Defensive Player of the Year , but the the league’s most important regular season individual award might well end up being a bone of contention, once the recipient has been announced for the League MVP. Leading contenders for this season’s award, are Steph Curry, James Harden , Russell Westbrook and the four-time League MVP winner, LeBron James .
For LeBron James , I believe this might well be his most crucial season yet in the NBA , where as the two-time Finals’ MVP and the perennial face of the NBA since 2003 , and the pressure will be on the All Star to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to an NBA title , in what would be the first in the franchise’s history. James’ legacy has been set, wealth accumulated and global icon status few North American born athletes have reached over the past decade , with the exception of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Floyd Mayweather and Kobe Bryant .
It would be remiss to believe that the Cavaliers are likely to have their way with the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals’ Series. With the loss of Kevin Love , I believe this tilts the scales slightly towards the Bulls and the fact, Tom Thibodeau is a vastly more experienced coach than his Cleveland counterpart David Blatt . Cavaliers’ point guard Kyrie Irving will be expected to raise the level of his play in this series if the Cleveland Cavaliers are to prevail.
If LeBron James and his teammates do fail, then the crescendo likely to heard will be deafening, and one of criticism not only of the player (James) , but also the fact the roster was essentially made up of mercenaries acquired to be at the beck and call of James’ self-absorbed ambitions, with his seeking redemption after last season’s NBA Finals’ comedic fiasco against the San Antonio Spurs.
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As the NBA Playoffs have progressed which player , players , team or teams, have impressed you the most ? Finally, which pairing in the NBA Finals, do you believe will offer a compelling and competitive series ? Chime in with your thoughts as you see fit.
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