I am still a little shocked that more people didn’t see what I saw. Miami may have been defending champs, but they proved over the long haul and in a miserably unchallenging run to the finals through the Eastern Conference that this wasn’t going to be a three-peat.
The Thunder was the second best team in this NBA season. They played well in their eventual series loss – game 6 in overtime – to the now NBA champion Spurs. The Spurs had to take down the Heat to make my assertion a valid point, but what I saw over the length of the season in terms of consistent team play, depth, ability to make adjustments in-game, in-season and in-series – the Heat 2013-2014 were not the team to beat. No team in the East had earned it – this season.The Spurs were the team to beat. The Oklahoma City Thunder, a game and a quarter or so behind them.
Whatever team survived the West would have survived the “First Division” as champs. I understand this is cyclical in the NBA. The East will come back – eventually. But for now… as I said in the last Sports Talk of the season at KOSU (we are on hiatus until later this summer) I felt the West would win it. To paraphrase, I said the Spurs could win it in 5 if Tony Parker plays. Spurs won it. In five games. Parker played. So did everyone else on the active roster for San Antonio.
The Spurs were consistent all season and post-season; do people really find the way they play basketball boring? Are you kidding? they are surgical when they play their game. And basketball is a 5 on 5 game. Over a series, or a season, it is a 12 on 12, or a 12 on 8, or a 8 on 8, some may argue. With all due respect to the most dynamic player in the NBA today and his very talented teammates, Lebron James and his buddies didn’t get to play 3-on-3 this year.
So when thinking about what OKC needs to do next year, remember the big picture. They have to play team defense. They have to play team offense. They have to move the basketball, rely on their big stars within the framework of a game and they have to make adjustments. Oh, by the way, they did all of those – for the most part – all season. They have the NBA M-V-P. A roster that enjoys playing defense and playing as a team, even with a superstar leading them. They just have to do it a little bit better next year if they are to unseat the Spurs and hold off the charging talent elsewhere in the NBA.