Posts Tagged ‘NBA Finals’

Blogtable: Taking the best 16

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

BLOGTABLE: The best 2s | Charlotte vs. New York | A sweet 16

> Lately we’ve had some talk on conference imbalance and what can be done about it. One question: Do you like the idea of seeding the top 16 teams in the playoffs, regardless of conference? Any drawbacks?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.comI like this plan. Some East teams still would have an edge anyway, right, because their records get fattened against the lousiest clubs in their conference? Even so, it would help to squelch the six months of bellyaching we get from some in the media on this topic. I mostly consider this a pendulum problem that will swing the other way in time. But some seem hung up on fixing instantly anything they perceive isn’t “faaaair.” If instituted, their next freak-out would be over the travel demands of a Portland-Atlanta series.

Fran Blinebury, Looking forward to that Miami-Portland first round playoff series. Boston-LA? Memphis-Sacramento? You think the media whining is loud now? Team complaints about travel fatigue? Wait til those happen. So Mark Cuban wants to go to the Eastern Conference because its so hard for his team in the West. For a guy who lives in the “Shark Tank,” he should know life sometimes bites. This is a solution in search of a problem.

Scott Howard-Cooper, The only drawback is that one conference will face a much easier schedule in the regular season and throw off the records that will determine the seedings. Beyond that, rank away. Just make sure to build in enough time. There could be coast-to-coast travel in the first round. If teams are going back and forth in a 2-2-1-1-1 format, and maybe on more than one occasion in that postseason, play will suffer.

Shaun Powell, The screaming you hear about conference imbalance is based on recent events, or lack thereof, in the East. As you know, these things are cyclical and who’s to say the East won’t be the better conference in another few years? There’s no need to push the red button and force change. Stick with the status quo and keep the conferences balanced in the postseason.

John Schuhmann, I’m not crazy about the idea, but I think it has to be done at this point. This is now 15 of the last 16 years in which the West has been the better conference. Some good teams are missing the playoffs and some bad teams are making them. But if you do it, you have to look at balancing the schedule, which will be tougher to do.

Sekou Smith, I feel like such a grumpy old man here, but I do not. I don’t think everyone should get a trophy for participation either. Seriously. Enough of this fairness doctrine being spread around the league. I’m reminded of the cyclical nature of sports and the fact that what appears one way now can change dramatically before you know it, rendering a hasty reaction foolish if we’re not careful. The divisional and conference format of the league has to mean something. There has to be some method to this madness. I understand we’re trying to reward teams in the tougher conference and a top-16 would make it “fair” to some. But I don’t believe that solves the problem when, say in a year or two, the Eastern Conference sees the balance of power shift in its direction.

Ian Thomsen, It would be good if everyone played to a similar schedule. The hard problem to solve here is the scheduling: To fix it without losing a sense of regional rivalry and without adding to travel for the teams.

Lang Whitaker,’s All Ball blog: I do not like the idea. I understand the arguments in favor of the change, specifically that it should ostensibly make for more competitive matchups in the playoffs, which would make the entire league must-see TV and raise ratings (and revenues). But I’m also something of a new-school traditionalist, and I like the conferences and divisions, gerrymandered though they may be. Conferences will have ups and downs and at some point in the future the East will once again have the power while the West will struggle. Until then, that’s just the way it is. (Word to Bruce Hornsby.)

Marc-Oliver Robbers, Why not? I’m a fan of this approach. The best 16 teams should battle for the title. The question is, do we still need the divisions and conferences? Traveling in our time is so comfortable that this isn’t an argument anymore. And it would be unfair if you change the system but keep the conferences. The teams in the East would have an advantage, because of the easier schedule. You have to change the schedule system. Every team would have to play three times against every team in the league. That would mean 87 regular season games. Too much? I don’t know. But changing things isn’t as easy as you’d expect.

Stefanos Triantafyllos, For sure! It’s very similar to the European point of view, where the winning record is the only criteria. We will miss some rivalries, but I think that this way the playoffs will be even better.

Aldo Avinante, I am leaning towards the top 16 teams in the playoffs, because a lot of talented and exciting teams from the West will be left off again come post-season. Teams like the Pelicans, Suns and Kings all have great young talent. The Western and Eastern Conference format always builds up rivalries, but a great example is the NCAA tournament, no one bothers from what conference or state the schools belong to, it’s just the top teams in the country, period.

Karan Madhok, I do like the seeding of the top 16 teams for the playoffs as the first step towards fixing the playoffs imbalance. Too many good teams and superstar players are standing out the playoff picture in the West every year; and meanwhile out East, teams that start 4-13 are still optimistic of finishing in the top six. The drawback obviously is that it will eliminate some of the historical rivalries a little as teams that face each other regularly in the playoffs will now be playing more inter-conference matchups earlier in the playoffs. To be honest, I don’t necessarily think that this is a bad thing: with new alignments and rules, there will be new traditions. The top 16 seeding shouldn’t be the final solution either, because teams in the East will still continue to have an easier schedule during the regular season as they play teams in their weaker conference more often. In the ideal NBA world, I will be hoping that all teams play each other equal number of times through the season for a truly fair idea of where they should stand before the postseason begins.

Nacho Albarrán, Yes, and we don’t see any drawbacks, because that system could improve the overall competition.

Davide Chinellato, I really like the idea of seeding the top 16 teams in the playoffs regardless of conference. Traveling isn’t an issue anymore, so why don’t have a postseason with the 16 best teams out of the regular season? It would be really interesting, and I’m pretty sure most teams would like it. Especially Western Conference teams …

Simon Legg, I do! Let’s get the best teams in the playoffs! It was a complete injustice that the 48-win Suns missed the playoffs last season. Not only did they win 48 games, they won them in the West! No offense to Atlanta, but how does a team that won 38 games make the playoffs? The Hornets really struggled to start the season, but given they’re in the East there’s a chance that they get themselves together and win enough games to qualify. Obviously, the entire system would have to change so that’s probably a drawback, but if you get the best teams in the playoffs then it’s worth it.

For more debates, go to #AmexNBA or

Analytics Art: NBA Finals MVPs

mvp-tout-580x316By Andrew Bergmann @dubly, for

After a stellar performance in the 2014 NBA playoffs, Kawhi Leonard joins the elite group of Finals MVPs. Here’s a look back at all of the other winners since the award was first given in 1969.

Andrew Bergmann’s data driven design work can be found on CNN, NBA, Sports Illustrated, Deadspin, Washington Post, NPR and USA Today. See more on and

Green’s 3s are key at home and especially on the road

By Jeff Caplan,

VIDEO: GameTime crew looks at the Spurs’ offense through the years compared to this season

SAN ANTONIO – Spurs sharpshooter Danny Green lit up the Heat a year ago in Games 1 and 2 in Miami, making 10 of his 15 shots from beyond the arc. That type of accuracy is exceptional, and on the road it’s extraordinary.

In Games 6 and 7 back in Miami, Green fell back to earth, going 2-for-19 from 3-point range. His long-distance shooting is critical to San Antonio’s success. The beneficiary of drive-and-kick passes from Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, he’s often afforded open looks and can be the driving force in momentum-shifting runs.

Role players are always said to be much better performers in the comfort of their own arenas than in hostile environments, and Green has played to that trend so far during these playoffs. On 3-pointers, he’s shooting a remarkable 59.2 percent (38-for-66) at home and 31.3 percent (23-for-61) on the road.

In the last two series against Portland and Oklahoma City, he’s 21-for-35 (60 percent) from deep at home and 7-for-26 (26.9 percent) on the road.

“The last series, the two games we lost on the road against OKC, they played us tough and they were high on emotions and they closed out even better to our shooters,” Green said. “But we didn’t move the ball as well as we should have, like we wanted to. We can’t have games like that where we give them a game or two by not playing Spurs basketball. We have to continue to do that each and every night where we play our game, aggressive defense and offensively moving the ball and finding our shooters and taking uncontested shots.”

During their run to now a fourth consecutive Finals appearance, the Heat have been one of the league’s top defenses closing out at the 3-point line. They can put immense pressure on the perimeter, causing contested shots or creating turnovers that put LeBron James and company in transition.

Miami has not been very good at preventing 3-pointers this postseason, allowing 38.1 percent. The Spurs led the league in 3-point percentage during the regular season, and after the Dallas Mavericks aimed to take away San Antonio’s 3-point shots in the first round, and with some success, the Spurs have recovered and are shooting it at 39.2 percent throughout the playoffs.

“We have to do a better job of finding each other and taking uncontested shots,” Green said. “That’s the biggest key for us, moving the ball, be aggressive and at the same time be smart. We want to penetrate and move the ball to the open man.”

VIDEO: Kenny Smith compares Danny Green’s home-vs.-road shooting numbers


Morning Shootaround — June 4

VIDEO: Tony Parker updates on his status for Game 1


Parker plans to play in Game 1 | Report: Parsons to become restricted free agent | Grant: MJ’s Bulls would top LeBron’s Heat | Jackson in full control of Knicks’ moves

No. 1: Parker expects to be OK for Game 1 — Spurs star point guard Tony Parker missed the second half of San Antonio’s West finals-clinching victory in Game 6 over the Oklahoma City Thunder with a balky left ankle. Since the Spurs wrapped up the West title, the focus has been on whether or not Parker will suit up for Game 1 tomorrow. Parker talked with reporters after Tuesday’s practice and assured the masses that he will be active for Game 1:

Tony Parker plans to play in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

The San Antonio Spurs open their rematch with the Miami Heat on Thursday, and their star point guard is nursing a balky left ankle.

“He’s getting better every day, and I expect him to play,” coach Gregg Popovich said Tuesday.

Parker aggravated the injury Saturday, missing the second half of San Antonio’s series-clinching victory over Oklahoma City in the Western Conference finals.

Parker didn’t practice Tuesday, but said he expects to be back Wednesday.

“I always try to be honest with Pop,” Parker said. “He knows, but if I’m 50 percent I’ll try to play. If I’m under 50 percent, we can argue.”

Parker conceded the ankle has bothered him since San Antonio’s second-round series against Portland, although he did not divulge it at the time.

“I don’t like to talk about when I’m hurt,” he said. “I played on it for the whole series against Portland. That’s why I think my hamstring got hurt because I was playing on a bad ankle.”

Parker had tightness in his left hamstring midway through the second quarter of Game 5 against the Trail Blazers, forcing him to miss the rest of the Spurs’ series-clinching victory.

He did not miss any of the Western Conference finals because of his hamstring. But he aggravated the ankle injury in Game 4 against Oklahoma City.

“I twisted it again, but didn’t say anything,” Parker said. “Played on it, and then Game 6 I think my body is like, `That’s enough.’ It’s perfect timing to get five days and to get better and to be ready for Game 1.”


Blogtable: Fiddling With The Finals

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

A Better LeBron? | Is the MVP Race Already Over? | Shaking Up The Finals Format

There’s a lot of noise that the NBA may change The Finals format from a 2-3-2 back to a 2-2-1-1-1. Good overall, or bad? Why?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.comGood, in a split decision over bad. The best part of a return is making the championship round consistent with the first three rounds. The NBA playoffs used to have all as many quirks as MLB — first-round byes, 2-out-of-3, 3-out-of-5 — and no one really objected, but this is more true. Still, this potentially doubles the amount of travel and time-zone changes for both teams from start to finish in a 7-game Finals, a consideration even with charter flights. Good thing incoming commish Adam Silver has 20 years on David Stern – he might prefer 2-3-2 after bouncing back-and-forth for a few Finals himself.

Fran Blinebury, Yes, it’s a good thing. First, it restores home court in what I think is a critical Game 5 to the team with the best record. Second, those three straight games in the middle put an almost unfair burden on a team to often need to win three in a row. Most important, it keeps the rhythm of every other series in the playoffs. This is the 21st century. Every team flies a luxury charter. Just have a shrimp cocktail, lean back and enjoy the ride.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.comDefinitely a good thing. The reasoning for changing it to 2-3-2 back in the 1980s is outdated. Besides that, I object to a team having Games 6 and 7 at home. At the same time, I like the team holding homecourt advantage to play Game 5 on its floor. The 2-2-1-1-1 format just makes sense to me.

Scott Howard-Cooper, Bad. It all depends on the geography of the matchup. A San Antonio-Miami repeat isn’t brutal travel, and something like OKC-Indiana is even less of a strain. But imagine Clippers-Heat or any team from the Pacific Division or Portland playing anyone from the East Coast. Now imagine the schedule breaks bad and the travel is on the calendar as the one off day, and then the teams go back in the other direction with a quick turnaround, and then back again. This will negatively impact the caliber of play. That’s bad enough in the regular season. It should never happen in the Finals.

John Schuhmann, I understand the idea that the team with the better record should have a pivotal Game 5 on its home court, but I just don’t see the 2-3-2 format as unfair. It’s just the rule that’s in place and teams have to deal with it. Winning a championship is hard and it almost always requires a road win, whether you’re the higher seed or not. Selfishly, I don’t like the idea of crossing the country five or six times to cover a seven-game series. And I’m not sure that’s best for the players and the quality of the competition either.

Sekou Smith, NBA.comI’m easy, I love The Finals in whatever format they use. It could be 2-3-2, 2-2-1-1-1 or 1-1-1-1-1-1-1. When you’re getting the best of the best, the cream of the NBA crop from both sides of the conference divide, the format is of little concern to me. They could play on outdoor courts in the middle of nowhere and I’d want to see it. I do think it’s time for a change, though. Whatever travel concerns there were a generation don’t matter these days. Besides, the format for the other rounds is 2-2-1-1-1 and that seems to work just fine. It should be good enough for The Finals, too.

Lang Whitaker,’s All Ball blog: Is neither a choice? I honestly don’t think it matters all that much. Either way, the team with the better record gets to play four games at home and the team with the worse record hosts three games. And sure, perhaps the 2-2-1-1-1 format means more travel for the teams, and definitely for the assorted media covering the event, but free Skymiles with the end of the season just around the corner never stopped anyone from covering as many games as they needed to cover.

Aldo Aviñante, NBA PhilippinesI think it will be good to go back to the 2-2-1-1-1 format — it’ll just make The Finals more exciting. The structure of the format will probably push the Finals to more Game 7s. If a team is in an elimination game for Game 6, the home team will have a better chance to extend the series to the limit.

Davide Chinellato, NBA Italia: Changing The Finals format back to a 2-2-1-1-1 is a good idea and I think it will lead to more Game 7s. Three consecutive home games were a huge plus for the team without the home-court advantage — a chance to make amends for mistakes on the road and change the momentum. Obviously, going back and forth in the final three games could be a further challenge for the teams, but I think it will make The Finals more unpredictable.

NBA Weighs Finals Switch To 2-2-1-1-1

After 29 years of staging its championship round in a 2-3-2 format of home/road games, the NBA is considering a return to the 2-2-1-1-1 system used for The Finals prior to 1985 and still used for all earlier playoff rounds.

The league’s competition committee voted to recommend the switch to the Board of Governors, which is expected to approve the move at its meetings Oct. 22-23. Still to be determined: whether the change would take effect for The Finals this June or wait till 2015. The committee’s recommendation was first reported by the Boston Herald Sunday.

“The idea was raised at the competition committee and was well-received,” NBA spokesman Tim Frank said Sunday, “and the committee ultimately unanimously voted to recommend the change in format.”

The 2-3-2 format was adopted for the championship round in 1985, after three consecutive Finals – and nine in a span of 10 years – had played across three time zones. Six of those nine had gone at least to Game 6, requiring additional coast-to-coast travel at a time when even the teams flew commercially.

A relatively new commissioner (David Stern began his term on Feb. 1, 1984) was aware of the demands on demands on players, coaches and staff. Stern also was keen to marketing issues, and the increased expense to newspapers and other traditional media in booking extra flights. Now NBA teams travel via charter flights. Many traditional news outlets no longer cover The Finals, a nod to their own industry’s economic woes rather than travel costs.

Also, the 2-3-2 format has its own issues. First, it veers dramatically from the staging of home/road games used in the earlier rounds. Second, the higher-seeded team, which begins The Finals at home, has what some have considered a homecourt disadvantage through five games.

Through the years, many have debated the psychological edges and pressures facing both clubs. Is it tougher for the higher-seeded team to know that, if it loses Game 1 or 2, the series might not return to its city? Or does the lower-seeded team face a greater burden at home, considering how difficult it is to beat a Finals opponent three straight times?

A reversion to 2-2-1-1-1 at least would make the format consistent with the earlier rounds, seemingly a more legitimate way to determine a champion. For the record, since 1985 the teams with Games 1, 2, 6 and 7 at home (if needed) have won 21 of the 29 Finals (.724) in the 2-3-2 format. In the 38 NBA/BAA championships through 1984 (including some played with alternating home games or even 2-3-2 in the 1950s), the higher-seeded teams went 26-12 (.684).

Game 7: The Morning After

By staff reports

A classic Finals ended with a classic Game 7. LeBron James cemented his place in NBA history scoring 37 points as the Heat captured a second-straight NBA title with a 95-88 Game 7 win over the Spurs. Here’s a quick recap of’s complete Game 7 coverage.

Game Coverage

NBA Finals


Heat Celebration

Video Highlights

Postgame Press Conferences


Will Spurs’ Big Three Bounce Back In Game 3?


SAN ANTONIO – It was business as usual at the San Antonio Spurs’ practice facility on the morning of Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich enlightened the assembled media for all of 57 seconds after shootaround and spouted about half as many words.

Turnovers, Pop, how much of an emphasis have you put on keeping them closer to four as in Game 1 as opposed to 17 as in Game 2?

“We didn’t talk about turnovers at shootaround,” Popovich said.

How about ball movement, Pop, how do you keep your precision passing game sharp to create open looks for your shooters? “You pass the ball,” Popovich said, “expeditiously.

“Any other questions?”

One giant one is how San Antonio’s Big Three will bounce back from an awful Game 2. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili combined to go 10-for-33 from the floor with nine turnovers.

“I expect them to play better than they did last game, obviously,” said Spurs sharpshooter Danny Green, who is 9-for-14 from beyond the arc in the first two games. “A big bounce back? Yeah, I’m hoping for it. … Timmy wasn’t too happy with himself, he’s coming in and getting extra shots, Tony as well, coming in and getting extra shots. Manu, they all have pride in themselves. There’s a reason why they’ve won in the past, they’re competitors, they compete and they’re perfectionists, so they’re going to continue to work until they get things right and get them perfect.”

One issue is creating more space for Parker to operate. The Heat threw different looks at him in Game 2, crowding him and taking away lanes. Green said the Spurs have to set better screens and re-screen to help pop Parker free and allow him to better challenge Miami’s big men inside.

Parker smiled and said he’s not worried.

“I’ll figure it out,” Parker said. “That’s what players do, you have to figure it out and that’s my intention, to play better and figure it out. I can play better, I can make quicker decisions. As a team we can all help each other out.”

Defensively, the Spurs — primarily Kawhi Leonard and Green — have done a good job guarding LeBron James, limiting him to 18 and 17 points in the first two games, respectively, after he averaged 29.0 ppg in the East finals. Still, the MVP is averaging close to a triple-double (17.5 ppg, 13.0 rpg, 8.5 apg) and was key in the pick-and-roll with Mario Chalmers (team-high 19 points) during Miami’s massive 33-5 surge to run away with Game 2.

“You’re not going to limit a guy’s impact like that,” Green said. “A guy like Lebron James is the best player in the world for a reason. He impacts the game in so many different ways — defense, rebounding, passing, blocking shots. So far we’ve done a decent job on him. Yes, we’ve limited him from not scoring 30, 40 points, but he’s still impacted the game many different ways. We want to continue to do that, but also try to limit the role players from putting big numbers on us.”

Spurs Seek Game 2 Improvement


MIAMI – The Spurs put forth a terrific effort in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, finishing with just four turnovers and winning 92-88. At Sunday morning’s shootaround heading into Game Two at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Spurs guard Tony Parker acknowledged that repeating that performance taking care of the ball will not be simple.

“I don’t think that’s going to happen again,” Parker said. “Miami is a very, very good defensive team, so they’re going to create turnovers. First game, I don’t remember a game where we had four turnovers. That was pretty good. If we can keep it under 10, that’s what we want. That’s a realistic number. I don’t think 4 is a realistic number.”

Turnovers aside, the Spurs feel as thought they can still improve from Game 1, particularly as they see the chance to go up 2-0 heading back to San Antonio, pointing out rebounding as an area of concern — they were outrebounded 46-37 in Game 1.

While the Heat are 10-0 in games after their lost 10 losses, and haven’t lost two straight since January 10th, it’s worth remembering that in this postseason, the Spurs are a combined 13-2, and they haven’t lost a game since May 12, in nearly a month.

“It’s a great opportunity, obviously, to try to get another one,” said Parker. “I think in this team we have enough experience to understand how valuable this opportunity is. And we realize it’s going to be tough. They’re going to play with a lot more energy. It’s always easier to bounce back after a loss. We just have to make sure we match their energy, try to keep it close, and see what happens in the fourth quarter.”

The Heat have spoken about playing with a little bit of fear as a motivating factor heading into Game 2, and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich pointed out that fear — rather, “appropriate” fear — is something the Spurs are intimately acquainted with.

“We’ve talked about appropriate fear for 18 years,” said Pop. “We believe in it. Appropriate fear basically equals respect for your opponent. Don’t take anything lightly. Nothing comes easy. And a little bit of fear is motivating. It doesn’t mean you’re scared or anything like that. It means you’re smart.”

And how do you determine what level is appropriate, Coach?

“You figure it out.”


Game 1: The Morning After

From staff reports

An incredible shot by Tony Parker with five seconds left in the fourth quarter propelled the San Antonio Spurs to victory over the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.  Here’s a quick recap of’s complete Game 1 coverage.

Game CoverageNBA Finals


Video Highlights

Postgame News Conferences