Wednesday, June 20, 2012

06/20 (Cramp Game) Quickie

It's going to go down as the "Cramp Game," but more on that in one sec.

First, be sure to pop by Quickish this a.m. -- a bunch of really good takes and reactions, put in a stream so fast it'll take you all of 30 seconds to inhale it (you can get more by clicking on the individual blurbs or watching the videos I posted). Plus, if you want to see new corporate synergy in action, check out the front page of USA Today Sports, which is linking to Quickish's coverage.

OK, so let's start with this: The Heat are up 3-1 and no team has ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals. My response: So what? OKC has been in both games in Miami right up until the end -- there is no reason (other than if they were broken last night) they can't win Game 5. All of a sudden, the series is 3-2 with the final two games in OKC, where the Thunder can absolutely win Game 6, take back all the momentum and then close out in Game 7.

The point is this: Anyone saying "It's over" this morning needs to go back two weeks and check out their "It's over" columns after Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals.

Meanwhile, if -- IF -- the Heat go on to win the series in five games (maybe even at all), last night's dagger 3 from LeBron on that cramped-up leg is the defining moment of his career. It implodes the mythology that he's soft, that he's not a closer, that he lacks a killer instinct. (That narrative was already specious, but hopefully now it tucks it away. Pundits sure seem ready to do just that... at least until something else happens in Game 5.)

But -- and I say this as someone who roots against LeBron -- it was the single-best moment of his career (ironic, given that he spent the game's dramatic final minute on the bench with that cramp).

Two other thoughts: (1) My 6-year-old is a big Thunder fan, but where I love Durant, he loves Westbrook. When you watch Westbrook play last night, you realize why. (2) James Harden can't possibly play this badly in Game 5 (or 6 or 7), right? That's the difference in the game, not Westbrook committing that dumb foul out of the time-out when the Heat had just a few seconds to get a shot off.

Typically, a 3-1 playoff series would feel a bit lame. But this one feels as dynamic as ever. Game 5 shapes up with a pretty amazing pair of storylines: Either LeBron wins that first ring... or the Thunder send it back to OKC with every chance in the world to complete the greatest comeback in NBA history.

-- D.S.

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