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NBA PM: Hurricane Dwyane Brewing in Miami?
Posted By Bill Ingram On June 3, 2013 @ 5:00 pm In NBA | No Comments
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A Big Storm Brewing In Miami
The is a mammoth storm brewing in the vicinity South Florida, and for a change it’s not a hurricane picking up steam. No, this storm comes in the form of the Indiana Pacers, who are looking to do the seemingly impossible as the stage is set for Game 7 of the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The Miami HEAT, who breezed through the regular season and the first two rounds of the playoffs like a hot knife through butter, were supposed to make quick work of the Pacers and head right back to the NBA Finals to hang another banner in the rafters of American Airlines Arena. It seemed like a foregone conclusion for much of the season, and yet here we are, anticipating a game that could very well end with Miami sitting on the sidelines watching the Finals unfold without them.
The dominant story line over the last 48 hours has been the perceived lack of support for HEAT star LeBron James. Some have even referred to the HEAT as the Cleveland Cavaliers, because the same perception existed when LeBron was in Cleveland, though he had some impressive names around him there, as well. There’s something to that, as Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are averaging just 14.5 and 11.3 points, respectively. While many have focused on asking what’s wrong with Wade and Bosh, a better question might be, what’s right with Indiana?
Over the last three games, two of which were won by Indiana, Wade is averaging just 12 points on 32 percent shooting, due in part to a knee injury that no one will discuss, but also to the lock-down Indiana defense. Likewise, Bosh has managed just 6.3 points on 24 percent shooting, but he has no such injury to blame. Bosh has simply been dominated by Roy Hibbert, who has played as well as any center in the NBA could play during this series.
So now it comes down to one game, with everything at stake. For Miami, the fate of the Big Three could hang in the balance, and for Indiana the chance to prove everyone wrong and return to prominence is in their hands.
“Each and every year there are 30 teams that would love to be a part of this, to have one game to advance to the NBA Finals,” James told the Associated Press. “And there’s two teams that’s in this position. And it’s something that you can’t substitute, this feeling. You can’t substitute the atmosphere that we’re going to be in on Monday night for both teams. We should all cherish this moment.”
That’s not lost on Pacers head coach Frank Vogel, who understands the enormity of the task at hand.
“It is a closeout game and an elimination game,” Vogel said. “Our approach right now is not if we lose we’re out — our approach is if we win, we get to the Finals. And that’s what we’re going for. We’re going to give our best shot and try to win the Eastern Conference championship.”
It now remains to be seen if the Pacers will get lost in the moment, flinching when the pressure is at its highest, or if they will grasp the opportunity at hand and fly in the face of conventional wisdom, as they have done so many times during the 2012-13 NBA season, which saw them lose their star player Danny Granger in the opening days of the campaign.
As for Miami, perhaps this is the story of a storm, after all. What the HEAT need to get back to the Finals is for Hurricane Dwyane to shake off his injury and the Pacers’ defense and help LeBron take their team back to the NBA’s Promised Land.
Game 7 in Miami tips off at 8:30 p.m. ET on TNT.
Jason Kidd Retires
It seems fitting that Grant Hill and Jason Kidd should announce their retirements within days of each other, and that’s exactly what happened when Kidd added his retirement announcement to the one made by Grant Hill over the weekend. Two of the greatest players to ever play in the NBA, who happened to share Rookie of the Year honors 19 seasons ago, are both stepping away from the game.
“I think it is the right time,” Kidd told ESPNNewYork.com. “When you think about 19 years, it has been a heckuva ride. Physically, I want to be able to participate in activities with my kids so it has taken a toll. It is time to move on and think about maybe coaching or doing some broadcasting.
“Jeff [Schwartz] and I and my family had been talking this past weekend. We talked a lot and we felt it was the right time to move on and so we notified the Knicks. They were kind of taken aback. We told them [earlier] that I wanted to come back and play, but this weekend was when we got a chance to relax [and really think about it]. It is the right thing to do.”
Kidd still had two years remaining on his contract with the Knicks, but it was clear from his play that the rigors of the 82-game season were taking more of a toll than usual. He averaged 9.9 points and 4.8 assists in 32.8 minutes per game in December, but by April he was down to 3.8 points and 4.8 assists in 26.5 minutes per contest. He was a virtual non-factor in the playoffs, managing just 0.9 points and 2.0 assists in 12 games. That’s tough to swallow for a player of Kidd’s stature.
Over his 19 seasons, Kidd amassed 17,529 points, 12,091 assists, 8,725 rebound and 2,684 steals, second only to John Stockton all-time in both steals and assists.
“The two things that are probably tied for first are winning a championship with the Mavericks and also being able to win a gold medal — two gold medals with Team USA,” Kidd said. “And then underneath that will probably be sharing Rookie of the Year with Grant.”
Stats are great, but winning is what matters in professional sports. No one understands that better than Kidd, who waited a long time to finally get his first and only championship ring in 2011.
“The biggest thing is winning,” Kidd said of what he wants to be remembered for. “No matter what percentage, no matter what my numbers say in the sense of points, assists, rebounds and steals, it’s always been about winning. And it will always be about winning … making my teammates better.”
The NBA will miss Kidd’s presence on the court, but don’t be surprised if he surfaces in the NBA next season in another role. He seems to have “Coach” written all over his future.
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