NBA Playoffs 2012: Conference Finals May 28, 2012 13:50
Some tough battles have been fought in the past few weeks, and we've been on the edge of our seats, wondering and, lets be honest, arguing, over which four teams were going to be battling it out in the NBA Playoff Conference Finals. Now we know. The San Antonio Spurs are taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Final, and the Miami Heat are facing the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Things got underway last night as the Spurs took on the Thunder in game 1. It was an exciting game, with the Thunder holding the spurs to just 16 points in the third quarter. The third quarter performance enraged the Spurs coach, Greg Popovich, who was captured telling his team to "get nasty" for the fourth.
Get nasty they certainly did. The Spurs rallied in the fourth to score 39 points to secure a 101 - 98 win over the Thunder. The game is the Spurs 19th win in a row, which means they could be heading for one of longest winning streaks in the history of the NBA playoffs if they keep this up.
Despite a rocky start, the Thunder played well in the game, even if Westbrook did get carried away with shooting, and only managing to come out with 0.33 from the field. They came closer than anyone to beating the spurs in the past 46 days, but not close enough.
The next leg of the match-up is on Tuesday night, and the Thunders response will be highly anticipated.
While the Spurs and Thunder have cruised through the early rounds of the Western Conference playoffs, either taking wins in 4 straight games (Spurs) or having to put in an extra game to secure the series (Thunder), things have looked a little different in the Eastern Conference.
After beating Atlanta in game 6 of the opening series, Boston were pushed to game 7 by a tough Philadelphia team; really having to work for their place in the Conference Finals. Miami had a pretty easy time against the Knicks, but then had a real fight on their hands with the Pacers. After winning the first game, the Heat then lost 2 in a row to the Pacers, leading to questions about whether this Pacer team had what it takes to pull one over Miami. They didn't. Even their GM, Larry Bird, said they were 'soft'. Miami closed out with three wins on the trot.
It's safe to say that we're all expecting a hard fought battle between the Heat and the Celtics. This will be the fifth time in seven years that the two teams have faced off at the Eastern Conference Finals, and things will get going Miami tonight to see who will come out on top in 2012.
Needless to say, the two teams have a lot of history. Miami beat Boston in five games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals last year, and the Celtics have won three of their four games against the Heat in the regular season this year. LeBron James has been coming out big for the Heat in these playoffs, especially after losing Bosh early on. LeBron and Wade have taken on the vast majority of point scoring for the Heat, both having an average of nearly 30 points per game. When asked about the matchup for the Eastern Finals, James has been quoted as saying: ''I wouldn't have it no other way, personally...It's really the only team I'm accustomed to playing in the playoffs. No matter where I go, I find a way to play Boston."
On the Celtics side, Rondo has been pulling it out of the bag for them when they need it. He had yet another triple double in the last game against the 76ers, scoring 9 straight points in the dying minutes of the 4th quarter, after play-leader Paul Pierce fouled out.
Both teams have a lot to lose. LeBron is still on a serious quest for a Championship ring, and who knows what will become of this set of Celtics players if they miss the top spot yet again.
No matter which team you're rooting for, the Spurs, Thunder, Heat or Celtics, these finals are going to be seriously entertaining, and no doubt, nail bitting stuff. That would only seem right after what has already been a dramatic set of opening rounds in the playoff series.