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If you’re listening, Oklahoma Thunder, I want to help

I won’t let them win

I know I don’t play the games, I only try to write the perception, but I can’t let them win because that means the perception never mattered in the first place. That all of my feelings of dislike, justified or not, aren’t worthwhile. I don’t ever think it’s a good thing to admit a Skip Bayless-like quality, but I think I might be drunk on the same power that he seems to be chugging. That what he says will have some sort of effect on the outcome of the games. It’s a weird, but intoxicating feeling. Last year brought it out of me. It felt like all of us were literally in LeBron’s head, and that he was believing what he read about himself. A million reasons floated around as to why LeBron was flawed, and when it appeared that something mental, not physical, was causing him to play like he did it was almost as if we were all correct simultaneously. It was if he read that he didn’t have what it takes to be a champion, and then some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy written by the internet formed in his head. It was a crazy experience, and I honestly believe it to be partially true. I don’t think I’m the only one, either. People still shout he can’t do it as loud as they can almost as if they’re hoping, just maybe, he’ll start listening again.

It’s not like last year, though. We can’t get in LeBron’s head because he doesn’t care about what we’re saying anymore. He learned better. The Thunder are listening, though. And we, the internet, continue to shout because it seems like we’re getting to them. It’s not as fun as the it was to bring down the Heat because it’s not as earned. But I am positive that they are listening to the noise in addition to whatever they might be doing to try to beat the Heat. I can hear it in their comments during interviews: Russell Westbrook heard about what Magic said about him being the worst point guard in Finals history; Scott Brooks is quoting Eric Spoelstra about games being decided by a few plays; and Perkins is listening to what his family members tell him people are saying, shouting at broadcasters. They’ve let on that we have an impact on their story. So, if you’re there, Oklahoma Thunder, maybe I have what you’re looking for. I’m not going to try to crush you like I did to LeBron last year and Wade this year. There’s no point. We’ve proven that there is a thing as too much noise in celebrity culture. Unlike some starlets, the Heat have been reduced to a fountain of clichés and serious gazes. Just look at the picture above. Look how tired Wade and LeBron look from this journey. They look like they aren’t even having fun on the court, and just want to get it over with. Whatever it is. I don’t want you to be like that, Thunder. Maybe there’s a way to use social media to be positive, and make it feel like the it’s the best thing ever because you are the good guys.

So, this is my pep talk. It’s not just fluff. I did my homework. And, since you’re listening, I wrote something that I think will help each of you. Think of these notes as private emails that I’d send you if I really had your private email addresses. I intended for you to only read the passage addressed to you, but I have no way to police that, obviously.

Kevin,

I’m a little worried about you. Not about your offense–Serge was right about LeBron–your defense. You didn’t even take guarding Chalmers seriously, and you were awkward the whole time on him. How could you have only gotten one defensive rebound as far as you were playing off of him?! Those 5 free points you gave to him in the middle of the third quarter could have been the game! Just so you can get angry, I have the clip. If you can’t be angry about this you don’t deserve to win the title.

The only way you can fix this is by telling Scott Brooks you want to guard LeBron James. You are the best player on the team, and we both know that it doesn’t look good if you are avoiding LeBron. Yes, avoiding. It isn’t the coach’s call because you can demand to guard him and no one will stand in your way. If Coach brings up the foul troubles from games 2 and 3 remind him that most of those fouls didn’t come from guarding LeBron James in the halfcourt. Let’s go through the list:

Game 2:

  1. Fouled Chris Bosh trying to stop a transition layup
  2. Fouled Dwyane Wade after biting on a pump-fake
  3. Offensive Foul
  4. Fouled LeBron on a layup attempt
  5. Committed a loose-ball foul against Udonis Haslem

Game 3:

  1. Offensive Foul
  2. Fouled LeBron James trying to stop a transition layup
  3. Fouled LeBron James coming off a screen
  4. Fouled Dwyane Wade on a drive
  5. Fouled LeBron James trying to prevent a transition dunk

Just stop fouling in transition. Also, don’t bite on Wade’s pump fakes. Can you even remember the last time he had a finish at the rim that wasn’t laid out on platter for him by LeBron? Neither can I.

The team is better with you guarding LeBron. It’s not an option, you have to do it. We’re talking about a championship here. Commit to 30 minutes of LeBron duty and it will give your team 10 more points than if you don’t. Here’s how it could look:


Westbrook,

They can’t guard you. Keep doing your thing. Just don’t forget why you’re doing this: to win a championship. You aren’t doing it to prove how good you are. Everyone will know that when you win the title. Just make the right plays, and everything you are hoping to get out of this will eventually come.


Coach Brooks,

You are a great coach. ‘Decent’ coaches don’t out maneuver Greg Poppovich and Rick Carlisle in the same postseason, only great ones do. That being said, you’re doing a crappy job in the Finals. You don’t seem to trust yourself. What the hell happened to you, don’t you remember what happened a couple of weeks ago?

Down 2 games to 0 to the San Antonio Spurs, you moved Thabo Sefolosha onto Tony Parker and derailed the league’s best offense in one fell swoop. Like Pop did, Spoelstra  has you on the brink of elimination. Unlike that series, you aren’t getting blown out of the water. You smashed them in game one, and lost the last three by a couple of points each time. What genius maneuver can you do to turn the tables? The move that keeps Durant out of foul trouble was excessively conservative. That’s not a move you win with, it’s one you try not to lose with. Well, you lost, so here’s the best I can come up with: Start Collison instead of Perkins.

It’s not a demotion to Perk, who I happen to have a higher regard for than most, it’s to match Collison against Chris Bosh instead of Udonis Haslem. Collison’s mobility and activity is more suited to play against Miami’s small starting lineup than a more traditional center like Perkins, who is most effective when he’s allowed to patrol the paint works better against Haslem. It doesn’t have to be Perk, it can be Ibaka. Perk is a big boy. He can handle it. Here are the numbers:
The numbers are probably too good to be true, but even if they’re only one-tenth as accurate as they appear (23.6 points over 28 minutes), it means you are 2 points over 28 minutes better than the Heat. I would take that. Play Collison the first 7-8 minutes of each half, and then punish them with Perk off the bench.


 Perk and Collison,

Read the message I sent to Coach Brooks. You know this the right thing, Perk.


Thabo,

You should be defending the point guard. You are the best perimeter defender on the team, but you can’t stand in the way of Kevin and Russell’s battle. Besides, you could do so much more damage wreaking havoc in passing lanes than trying to stay in front of LeBron and Wade the whole game. Remember what you did against the Spurs? That’s how you get fast-breaks started.


James,

You know better than to get down on yourself like you did in Game 4 after that layup miss. Wade pushed you from behind, we both know he did it. Next time that happens, don’t be afraid to flip out and draw a tech because at least you’ll be blaming someone other than yourself. I’m not seeing the emotion from you that I know you have. So, the only other advice I can give you is to just have fun. Open shots have a way of eventually falling for good shooters like you.


Fisher,

You have my permission to read everyone else’s note, and if you feel like I did something wrong, please explain to them what they need to hear. There’s nothing else I can give you other than my confidence that you know what to do. If you don’t know the answer, after 8 Finals appearances, it means you haven’t thought hard enough about it.


Serge,

You are doing plenty that’s right, but you need to start boxing out, man. Your team is getting crushed on the boards, and you are letting it happen. There’s more to protecting the rim than getting blocks. Talk to Perkins about it. He can help you.


To everyone else,

We could be reliving that stupid celebration from the Summer of 2010 if the Heat win in Miami tonight. I’m not going to post the video. I don’t need to see it right now to remember what it looks like or hate it any more than I already do. Just remember that celebration when you watch tonight’s game. I tried my best to stop it. I don’t know if they’ll listen, but I tried.

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