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Archive for the ‘NBA Playoffs’


Heat is Really On LeBron and Miami 12

Posted on June 10, 2011 by Dean Hybl

It isn't yet clear how the 2011 Finals will impact LeBron's legacy.

From the day he announced that he was leaving Cleveland and taking his talents to South Beach, LeBron James has been under a media microscope that judges his legacy from game to game. Now after consecutive sub-par performances and with the Miami Heat trailing the Dallas Mavericks three games to two, it really is time for James to determine how people will look at him for years to come.

When James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade teamed up to form the “Big Three”, they talked about winning multiple championships and many across the league predicted a dynasty in the making.

However, many, including myself, also thought it would take the Heat a couple years to get comfortable playing together and finding the right supporting cast and that Boston and the Lakers would have one more championship battle before the dawning of the Heat Era.

That Miami dispatched of both the Celtics and the Chicago Bulls so easily in the Eastern Conference playoffs made us forget just how hard it is to get over the hump and win that first NBA Championship. Read the rest of this entry →

35 Years Ago: Celtics and Suns Play the Greatest NBA Finals Game Ever 4

Posted on June 03, 2011 by A.J. Foss

Celtics center Dave Cowens and Suns center Alvan Adams were the central figures as the 1976 NBA Finals began.

When the Phoenix Suns met up with the Boston Celtics in the 1976 NBA Finals, most observers expected a short series.

The Celtics were the dominant franchise in the NBA with their dynasty in the late 1950s and 1960s with 11 championships in 13 years.

After a brief down period following the retirement of Bill Russell, the Celtics once again rose to the top of the league when they won the 1974 NBA title.

Former Celtics great Tom Heinsohn was the coach of this new generation of Celtics that featured center Dave Cowens, Paul Silas, and Jo Jo White, but included former sixth man and Celtic hero, John Havlicek.

In 1976, the Celtics won 54 games during the regular season and advance to the NBA Finals after a pair of six-game playoff series victories over the Buffalo Braves and Cleveland Cavaliers.

On the other end of the spectrum were the Phoenix Suns, an expansion team who had not done much in their first seven years of existence.

The 1976 season seemed to be another lost effort as the Suns lost 18 of 24 games during the middle of the season.

But lead by head coach John MacLeod, the Suns caught fire in the last part of the regular season, winning 10 of their last 13 games, to finish with a 42-40 record, but good enough for the team’s first playoff berth since 1970

With a core of players that included rookie of the year Alvin Adams and Paul Westphal who Phoenix acquired in a trade from Boston during the offseason, the Suns knocked off the Seattle Supersonics in six games to advance to the Western Conference Finals, where they shocked the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors in seven games, to advance to their first NBA Finals.

The veteran Celtics won the first two games easily in Boston Garden, but the “Sunderllas” as they become to known as for their remarkable run, won the next two games in Phoenix, to force a pivotal Game 5 in Boston Garden.

What appeared to be a rout in the beginning of the game, turned into the wildest game in NBA Finals history. Read the rest of this entry →

Heat Overcome Turbulent Season to Compete in NBA Finals 2

Posted on June 01, 2011 by Chris Kent

For all their struggles in meeting the national hype this season, the Miami Heat are right where they were expected to be. Playing in the NBA Finals as the Eastern Conference Champions. The Heat are gunning for their second championship in six seasons as they take to the court against the Western Conference Champion Dallas Mavericks as the finals open this week.

Yet it has been anything but easy for Miami in getting to the finals. While the story of last summer, “The Decision”, brought superstar LeBron James to the Heat to join forces with Dwyane Wade, that hasn’t resulted in an easy path to the top. Former Toronto Raptor star Chris Bosh, a talented 6-11 power forward, also joined Miami this year. James, Wade, and Bosh were looked upon as basketball’s version of the triplets, what Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith were to the Dallas Cowboys of the 1990’s in the National Football League. Yet, at times, the Heat’s triplets were mere mortals.

Miami's LeBron James elevates for a jump shot over Corey Brewer of the Bulls during the Heat's game five win in Chicago on May 26 (Nathaniel S. Butler)

Despite being touted as the dominant favorite to make the NBA Finals and even win it, that threesome and Miami had more than one challenge, obstacle, and drought this season. After signing James and Bosh, the Heat’s season opened with huge expectations. However a season-opening 88-80 loss at Boston raised some questions. The Celtics were the defending conference champions and had won the 2008 NBA title. Many predicted that it would come down to Boston and Miami for the title in the east. With that on the minds of the players, fans, coaches, and media, the Heat were facing national scrutiny right from the very start of the season.

James led Miami with 31 points in the opening loss while Wade scored 13 with Bosh adding just eight points. The Heat never lead in the game and Boston showed why the experience of their key trio – Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett – made a difference.

The aftermath of that opening loss had the talking heads raising questions. Could Wade, James, and Bosh exist together and function? Was there enough points and plays to go around the three of them? What about the rest of the team? Every team, no matter how talented their top players are, needs supporting players to provide a cohesive nucleus. Forward Joel Anthony and guard Mike Bibby, the team’s other two starters in the opener against Boston, needed to mesh well with the trio. These were only some of the questions.

Additionally, there was the all-important issue of how the reserves would fit around Wade, James, and Bosh. Veteran centers Udonis Haslem and Zydrunas Ilgauskas each provided quality experience in the pivot. How would they adjust to the trio? Youngsters like Mario Chalmers and James Jones would have to find their niche as well. Read the rest of this entry →

Counting Down the 20 Greatest NBA Finals of All-Time 3

Posted on May 31, 2011 by A.J. Foss

Willis Reed scored only four points in the seventh game of the 1970 NBA Finals, but his mere presence on the court helped lift the Knicks to a championship.

The NBA Finals begin tonight, as the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks battle it out for the Larry O’Brien trophy.

With that in mind, it’s time to take a look back at the 20 greatest NBA Finals of all time.

These are the 20 best series, not best moments, so moments like Magic Johnson’s “junior, junior” sky-hook are not on this list.

To get on this list, the series had to feature multiple close games or more than one classic moment or performance.

So, here are the 20 greatest NBA Finals of all time:

20. 2010 Lakers-Celtics
The latest edition of the Lakers-Celtics rivalry was another seven-game series as the Lakers avenged their loss to Boston in the 2008 Finals, with a win over the Celtics in 2010.

Five of the seven games were decided by single digits and featured Ray Allen’s record-breaking performance in Game 2 with eight three pointers.

Game 7 was low-scoring but memorable as the Lakers overcame a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter, to pull out an 83-79 win.

19. 1974 Celtics-Bucks

The home court advantage was worthless in this series as the road team won five of the seven games in these Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks.

The series also featured a pair of overtime games, including the famous Game 6 double overtime win by the Bucks on Kareem Abdul-Jabaar’s 17-foot sky hook in the second overtime for a 102-101 win in Boston Garden.

Game 7 went to the road team, which was the Celtics, as they defeated Milwaukee 102-87 win, for the franchise’s 12th NBA championship and first without Bill Russell.

18. 1958 Hawks-Celtics
The St. Louis Hawks got revenge for their loss in the 1957 Finals, as they defeated the Celtics in six games, with all four of the Hawks’ wins by a combined eight points.

The most memorable moment from this series came in the clinching sixth game, as Hawks forward Bob Pettit poured in 50 points, including 18 of the last 21 points in St. Louis 108-107 win.

17. 1951 Royals-Knicks
No team in NBA history has ever won a best-of-seven series after falling behind 0-3, but the 1951 New York Knicks came very close.

After losing the first three games of the series, the Knicks won Games 4 through 6 to force a Game 7 against the Rochester Royals (now Sacramento Kings).

Game 7 was tied at 75-75 with almost a minute to play until Royals guard Bob Davies sank two free throws to break the tie as Rochester went on to win the game 79-75 and their only NBA title.

16. 1976 Celtics-Suns
The 1976 Finals is remembered most for the Game 5 triple overtime win by the Celtics over the Suns in perhaps the greatest NBA Finals game of all time.

But the series itself was pretty exciting as the heavy underdog Suns came back from a 0-2 deficit to win Games 3 and 4 in Phoenix to force the memorable fifth game.

Much like they did in Game 5, the pesky Suns did not go away as they held a 67-66 lead in the fourth quarter of Game 6, before Boston outscored Phoenix 21-13 over the last 7:25 of the game to pull out an 87-80 victory and clinch their 13th NBA championship. Read the rest of this entry →

Boston Celtics Quest for Banner 18 Will Have to Wait 11

Posted on May 16, 2011 by Raj Prashad

Banner 18 or Bust?

Every Celtics fan must have gone through the 2010 summer slump, as we sat and watched the Lakers celebrate, then thought, “Next season is 18 or bust.”

Honestly, as a fan, was that fair of us or to the organization? Was it fair to think, “This team has to win a title, or this season will be a total failure.”

Most teams consider finishing the season .500, making the playoffs, getting to the second round, or making it to the Finals a success. In Boston, we have a championship atmosphere. This last decade has provided the greatest city on earth some breathtaking moments, but is it fair to think championship or bust on any given season?

I was one of those fans sitting there after game seven, saying “If Perk….If Rasheed….If If IF.” The offseason would prove difficult as many pieces, including Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen were thought to be moving on. Then Danny Ainge made some incredible moves with such a restricted salary. Doc came back and Ray Allen re-signed. Then Paul Pierce made the ultimate sacrifice, he took less money to stay in Boston and allowed the management to do what they could. Ainge signed Jermaine O’Neal, Von Wafer, Delonte West, Marquis Daniels, and Nate Robinson all for bargain deals. He got the legend of LA, Shaquille O’Neal, to sign for the minimum and put together a pretty solid bench. We were given hope. Hell, the motto for the regular season was, “It’s All About 18.” Read the rest of this entry →

Heat Knock Off Celtics to Reach Eastern Conference Finals 2

Posted on May 12, 2011 by Raj Prashad

Lebron James punctuated the series victory for the Heat over Paul Pierce and the Celtics.

For the last time in the 2011 NBA season, the Boston Celtics failed to close out a game they had in their grasps.

Lebron James and Dwayne Wade finally conquered their biggest test from the heavily stacked Eastern Conference Wednesday night in a 97-87 win over the Celtics to move forward to the Eastern Conference Finals series.

Lebron scored the final 10 points of the fourth quarter on his way to sending the veteran Boston team packing for the summer. While playing against the struggling Paul Pierce, five fouls entering the fourth quarter, James had space he normally wouldn’t to attack the rim and change direction at will. Pierce was forced to play off the athletic big man and allowed James to control the pace on the offensive end of the court en route to two consecutive dagger threes in the final minutes. Without their attacking captain, the C’s went scoreless for the last 4:15 of regulation as the Heat went on a 16-0 run to finish the original Boston Big 3 that has controlled the East for the last three years. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Stan Jones – Weight Training Trailblazer
      October 11, 2020 | 1:48 pm
      Stan Jones

      The Sports Then and Now Athlete of the Month was one of the great linemen of his era and is considered a trailblazer for using weight training and conditioning to develop his skills.

      After a standout career at the University of Maryland, Stan Jones spent nine seasons as an offensive lineman for the Chicago Bears, making seven Pro Bowl appearances and earning first team All-Pro three times.

      In 1962, assistant coach George Allen suggested Jones move to defense to help solidify that unit for the Bears. He played both ways in 1962 and then in 1963 moved permanently to the defense.

      Read more »

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