NBA Finals Game 5 Diary

Two years ago I wrote a running diary of Game 5 of the NBA Finals. The Dallas Mavericks took a 3-2 series lead, LeBron notched a triple-double but was silent in the 4th quarter (an alarming trend during the 2011 Finals), and the most trying summer of my life as a LeBron fan was just around the corner. I capped that running diary off by saying that the Heat wouldn’t die easy. Not my proudest moment as a writer. Once again with the NBA Finals tied at two games apiece, a running diary seemed like an absolute necessity. All I could do was hope that it would turn out better this year.

3rd quarter

11:18- LeBron connects on a deep two that may have been a three to start the 2nd half. Jeff Van Gundy, never content with remaining calm, is riled up because on a similar play in the first half the refs didn’t give a signal to the scorers table to review the play, but would go on to change a Manu Ginobili three to a two. Let’s just say the only people more upset about those two calls than Jeff Van Gundy were my parents.

10:43- You absolutely do not want to turn the ball over against the Miami Heat. Uncharacteristic back to back turnovers from the Spurs lead to a wide open corner three from Mario Chalmers and two free throws for LeBron. Just like that Miami trails only by two. Amazing what happens when the best player in the world creates shots on three straight possessions.

9:40- Dwyane Wade dribbles into four Spurs defenders, falls down, turns the ball over, and fails to run back on defense which leads to (let me know if you’ve heard this one before) a Danny Green three-pointer. My goodness gracious, that’s Green’s 4th three of the night and 23rd of the Finals, an NBA record. I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of this out of body experience that Danny Green is having this postseason. Over the last month he’s had more success than anyone else in the playoffs at guarding Stephen Curry, my 2nd favorite athlete in the entire world, and he may shoot my all-time favorite athlete out of a 2nd NBA Title. The only person angrier than me about this development is Erik Spoelstra, who marches onto the court and gets a timeout. I secretly love angry Spo timeouts. Spurs lead 66-60.

8:50- Ginobili gets Bosh on a switch and I actually think he licks his lips before he attacks the basket and scores. That’s vintage Ginobili right there. I joked in my Finals MVP Power Rankings that Trick Shot Titus has made more big shots over the last two months than Ginobili has. Foot, meet mouth. Ginobili has 13 points and 8 assists. Spurs lead 68-60.

8:05- Kawhi Leonard answers a Dwyane Wade floater with one of his owns over Mike Miller in the paint. One of the most surprising developments of Game 5 so far is that there have only been two mentions of how large Kawhi Leonard’s hands are. Is there a player in the league who is as widely known as Kawhi Leonard for a large body part? Wait, don’t answer that.

7:02- Tony Parker gets a wide open lane into the paint after Chalmers goes down on a screen but LeBron manages to strip him at the last possible moment. LeBron and Wade vs. Danny Green on the fastbreak. Advantage Danny Green. To everyone’s surprise but my own, LeBron dishes to Wade and Wade misses the layup. Look, you can’t give me crap for making jokes at Dwyane Wade’s expense when he makes (or fails to make) plays like this.

6:15- If I’ve learned anything from writing running diaries, it’s this: I should keep my mouth shut. LeBron vs. Danny Green on a fastbreak. Advantage Danny Green. Green (who all joking aside is a fantastic transition defender) gets a good contest on LeBron’s first layup attempt. LeBron, despite nearly crumbling to the ground after the initial contest, gets his own rebound but misses the follow. As always, a missed opportunity for the Heat leads to a Spurs basket, this time a Tony Parker floater over Mike Miller, looking more and more like a deer in headlights by the minute.

4:45- LeBron misses a contested three pointer (exactly the shot the Spurs want him to take) and Parker answers on the other end with a transition layup. He’s a magician when he gets into the paint. Just pay attention to the way he can maneuver his body around defenders and the incredibly odd ways he manages to get shots off over and around defenders. There are times it doesn’t seem possible. Wade comes back and knocks down a contested elbow jumper. 20 points for Wade, but again, that’s the shot the Spurs want the Heat to settle for. It also happens to be the shot that unites Dwyane Wade and Josh Smith as two of the only players who consistently settle for mid-range jumpers even though they are below average jump shooters.

3:05- A mini-run for Miami, now seven consecutive points, continues after another jumper from Wade and a foul away from the play on Ginobili. Battier makes the free throw and cuts the Spurs lead to one. Oh you guys didn’t hear? Shane Battier is still alive! Yeah, we had a party for him and everything. Good times.

2:50- That Heat run ends after Danny Green buries a three from inside the Alamo. I love and appreciate a good ole Mike Breen “Bang!” just like everybody else, but it’s a shame that Gus Johnson couldn’t somehow be involved in this. Brain fluid would be leaking out of his ears if he was in the building calling this game.

2:03- Ginobili connects on a tough fade away runner over Norris Cole. 18 points, 8 assists for the recently resurrected Ginobili. “Manu Manu” chants are echoing throughout the arena as the Spurs lead is pushed to 9. Norris Cole has been the recipient of serious abuse from Parker and Ginobili tonight, and I’m pretty sure Mario Chalmers just got yelled at for it.

2.6- Really all I could say at this point is Ginobili is a basketball savant. Good lord. Apparently shooting left handed was getting too easy for him so he opted to try out a right handed runner. The Spurs are up 87-75 and you can almost feel the panic of the Heat through the television screen.

4th quarter

12:00- The Heat start the 4th quarter with LeBron, Mario Chalmers, Ray Allen, Udonis Haslem and Shane Battier on the floor, a 6 point underdog to the 2009 Cavaliers lineup of LeBron, Mo Williams, Sasha Pavlovic, Anderson Varejao and Wally Szczerbiak. By the way, WHERE THE HELL IS BIRDMAN BIRDMAN?!?

10:41- After we see a replay of Boris Diaw forcing LeBron into taking a tough shot in the post, Mike Breen comments Diaw has given Pop 23 good minutes tonight. In return Pop will treat Boris Diaw to a $23 worth of McDonald’s after the game. Ginobili hits another floater in the lane. Spurs are up 89-75.

10:10- Kawhi Leonard drills a corner 3 to extend the Spurs lead to 17. Breen again neglects to mention Leonard’s large hands. He’s caught up in the excitement that the Spurs have hit eight more three’s than the Heat have tonight. Understandable, but he’ll be getting a notice in the mail tomorrow from the league office telling him that he’s been fined $5,000.

9:30- Two contested misses by LeBron leads to a Duncan tip in on the other end. A very quiet 15 point, 12 rebound night from Duncan. The Spurs are on a 19-1 run and leading 94-75. Coming back from the 143rd Angry Spo Timeout of the series, we hear a Coach Pop tell his players to, and I quote, “Knock the stuffing out of em!” If the game wasn’t over before, it is now officially over. So what do we know going into Game 6? Not much.

The three biggest mysteries stemming from ABC programming over the last two weeks are how did Jesse Williams get his sideline reporter gig, will Whodunnit? last more than seven episodes, and who would win the Finals MVP if the Spurs won the series—you can make a compelling case for Green, Leonard, Duncan or Parker. We also don’t know if there will be any correlation between what happened tonight and what will happen in Game 6 since there has been virtually no carry over from game to game this series. I may not be in a position to give you any of those answers, but I can guarantee you Miami won’t die easy… Wait, that didn’t turn out well last time.

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NBA Finals Preview Podcasts

The NBA Finals begin tonight and since it’s such a significant matchup I figured one podcast to preview Heat/Spurs wasn’t enough. On Tuesday night podcast veteran Paul Clark joined The Captain’s Corner to discuss who the biggest breakout star of the postseason has been, whether Kevin Durant’s performance during the playoffs changed our perceptions of him, how injuries have impacted the postseason results, and who will win the Finals.

On Wednesday night, my cousin Gianni Zambito made his Captain’s Corner debut and offered his insight on what it’s like to be a lifelong fan of Tim Duncan. We break down Tim Duncan’s career, Tony Parker’s ascension, the differences and similarities of our respective favorite players, and make our Finals picks.

The Heat Do The Harlem Shake

Everyone has seen it. In two days on YouTube it’s already garnered nearly 7,000,000 views. Now, it’s time for the running diary recap of the downright hilarious Miami Heat Harlem Shake video.

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0:02- We’re introduced to the Miami Heat locker room which has the Larry O’Brien trophy plastered all over the place (as if we were going to forget), highlighted by a large trophy in the middle of the carpet, with the word “Champions” running through the middle of it. We’ve got thirteen Heat players standing and sitting around in the locker room and as always, they’re acting totally oblivious about what is to come. But the lingering question two seconds in remains, where is Birdman?

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0:04- Ah, there’s Birdman. He comes moseying in from off screen with a little hop in his step. I wonder what he’s going to do.

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0:06- Oh God, Birdman is flapping his wings.

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0:12- There has been a 7’0 tall man with a Mohawk and tattoos covering 80% of his body flapping his arms as if there were wings for 6 seconds and all the Heat players are focused on right now is getting a good stretch in. He’s standing in the middle of the room and no one has a care in the world. LeBron is just focused on staying loose for his pre-game dunk contest. I love the Harlem Shake.

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0:14- Uh oh! Birdman is getting dangerously close to the camera right now. I think I know what’s coming.

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0:16- “And do the Harlem Shake!”

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0:17- And do the Harlem Shake they will! Wow, we have a lot going on in this locker room right now. I don’t even know where to begin. At very first glance you see LeBron decked out in a king costume (appropriate) right in the middle, absorbing the majority of the attention (typical). Right behind LeBron is a dancing disco bear, being played by Dwyane Wade, who is paying homage to his city, and rapper Kanye West. Chris Bosh is holding a gold boom-box while wearing a baby blue bathrobe and black cowboy hat. And it appears as if Super Mario has joined the party as well.

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0:21- LeBron hasn’t moved from the front, but a few new characters are establishing themselves. Norris Cole’s pants are almost up to his high top fade, but not quite. Birdman is standing in the back left corner of the room looking intimidating as hell with a bandana over his face. And it also appears as if we have a man in a sombrero pushing a man in a Santa-style Christmas cap in a cart. This should be fun.

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0:25- Mike Miller (sombrero and luchador mask) and Joel Anthony (Santa cap) have passed in front of LeBron, but that doesn’t stop LeBron from dancing like a maniac, making faces like a 6 year old kid whose dancing like a maniac, and still maintaining the edge over Birdman for MVP of this video so far. It also seems as if we have a horse floating around in the back of the locker room. You can’t make this stuff up.

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0:32- The regular portion of the Harlem Shake video ends, but now some of the guys will get their own time to shine. To no one’s surprise, LeBron is first. And I’m not totally sure what he’s doing. It just looks like he’s shaking furiously in front of the camera, but I’m in no place to judge the best basketball player in the world.

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0:35- Granted I don’t spend too much time at the dance clubs, but Chris Bosh is doing some kind of dance that I’ve never seen before. In bigger news, we get our first good glimpse of James Jones who will later be making a strong push for MVP of the video. His multi-colored Jeri Curl wig, overalls, high socks and outlandishly large and colorful tie is just high quality comedy.

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0:38- It’s Dwyane Wade’s time to shine, but he’s out done by the introduction of Shane Battier: Horse-tronaut. I love it. Even in the Harlem Shake Dwyane Wade will remain in someone’s shadow. But in all seriousness, I love that Wade was the one who apparently went and got the costumes for the entire team. This makes me become 20% more of a Dwyane Wade fan.

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0:39- Ray Allen (or his mother, not sure which one it is) is in a Phantom of the Opera mask and cape. James Jones is inching closer to the spotlight, and I just realized that when Wade (in the giant Bear head) is standing still, he could easily be confused for a psychopath in a horror movie.

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0:41- Rashard Lewis doing his best mime impression is working on getting himself out of a box. He might want to work on his corner jumper so he could get on the court a little bit more.

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0:42- It saddens me deeply that I only get to watch one second of a James Jones close up in this video. Someone on YouTube needs to make one of those ridiculous ten hour loop videos of Jones dancing.

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0:43- Norris Cole can do just about anything with that haircut and make it look cool.

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0:45- “It’s-a-me, Mario!”

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0:46- Besides James Jones, this is my favorite part of the individual portions of the video: Birdman looking intimidating as hell with 8,000 tattoos, black bandana, black sun glasses and a Mohawk, making the usually intimidating Udonis Haslem look tame. It could be because Haslem is wearing a blazer, a fireman’s helmet and the WWE Championship belt around his waist.

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0:50- The group together. Maybe it’s the current 13 game win streak. Maybe it’s LeBron James playing basketball at a level that has never been seen before. Or maybe it’s this goofy ass Harlem Shake video. But I’m falling in love with the Miami Heat all over again.

The Captain’s Corner 2012-13 NBA Preview

In my favorite annual podcast of the year, Paul Clark and I discuss the entire NBA landscape in a two-part discussion. In part one we look at the Las Vegas odds for win totals for all of the Eastern Conference teams. We discuss the defending NBA Champion Miami Heat, the evolution of LeBron James, the improved Boston Celtics, and Pauley manages to make me hate myself for taking the over on the wins for the Cleveland Cavaliers. In part two we take a look at the Western Conference. Can the New Orleans Hornets possibly make the playoffs? Do the Clippers possibly have too many guys? And can Pauley’s Lakers make a push for Kobe’s 6th NBA Title.

Everything Basketball: With Paul Clark

About 2 hours before we recorded the podcast, familiar Captain’s Corner co-host Paul Clark texted me and told me it would be our greatest show ever. He may be right. If you are a basketball fan and have 100 minutes to spare, check out this edition of the Captain’s Corner where we discuss what life is like in a world where LeBron James is an NBA Champion, how the Lakers off-season moves will help them next season, the Dwightmare, 2012 USA Basketball vs. 1992 USA Basketball, and basketball at the 2012 Summer Olympics.