Miami Heat finally come through


Miami Heat finally come through

Coming into the NBA Finals, if there was an area where theOklahoma City Thunder seemed to have a distinct and clear advantage over Miami itwould be in the supporting cast category.Most believed that once you got past the Finals big-timestars Miamis LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and the Thunders Kevin Durant andRussell Westbrook that the Heat were in trouble.I know I did. But not so fast.While there is no doubt James was the best player of theseries, and that Wade proved to be the perfect complement, Miami doesnt winthe thing unless it gets above-and-beyond performances from the rest of thecrew.And it sure didnt hurt that on the other side, theThunders role players werent very good at all.Thats not to take anything away from James, who won hisfirst NBA title in his third try. James is going to get plenty of credit forhis play this season, this postseason and this series. And rightfully so. Hesthe best player on Planet Earth and now hes a champion. Only a fool would tryto dissect his game toward the negative at this point.But on all championship teams, the superstars must get somehelp. Bill Russell needed it, Michael Jordan needed it, and so did Larry Bird,Magic Johnson and any other Hall-of-Famer or all-time great out there withjewelry.James and Wade were so effective that the Heat only neededsporadic contributions from other players during the course of the series. ButMiami got better than that.Shane Battier hit 3-pointers all series long, Mario Chalmersmade big plays throughout the series and Mike Miller had a monster Game 5, theclincher.All the while, Chris Bosh was steady, though notspectacular, and Norris Cole and Udonis Haslem were positives when calledupon.On the other hand, it would be tough for any OKC player notnamed Durant or Westbrook to feel good about his Finals performance. JamesHarden, the teams sixth man and an integral part of the Thunders offense justcouldnt find any consistency in his game.He didnt create like he did in past series, didnt makeenough 3-pointers and had little to no impact when matched up againstJames.Kendrick Perkins, the alleged defensive anchor of team, wasineffectual. He didnt defend the rim well, didnt use his fouls wisely and hisoffense was cringe-worthy.Serge Ibaka had been what analysts like to refer as anX-factor throughout much of the playoffs, but he didnt do much of note,either. That jumper hed been knocking down for most of the postseason wentmissing. And his shot-blocking with the exception of Game 2 -- left,too.The versatile Thabo Sefalosha was instrumental in defendingpoint guard Tony Parker in the Western Conference finals, but he couldnt doanything to slow down James.Meanwhile, Battier made 15-of-26 3-pointers in the series,Chalmers threw in 25 points all of which seemed meaningful in a criticalGame 4 win for Miami, and Miller pretty much went nuts in Thursdays clincher,draining 7 of 8 from beyond the arc and finishing with 23 points in just 23minutes.James deserved his MVP award, but you can only rack up thekind of assist numbers he did how about 25 total in the final two games when your teammates are making shots.On the way to the Finals, the Thunder got terrific play fromtheir role players never more so than in the Western Conference finals whenthey rallied from an 0-2 deficit to win four straight vs. San Antonio.Most assumed the Thunder already had come of age, but aspressure-filled as their run through the West was, the NBA Finals are different they just are.Chalmers, Miller, Bosh and Haslem were all around lastseason, when the Dallas Mavericks turned back the Heat. On Thursday, it becamecrystal clear that experience counted for something.Hey, the Heat obviously doesnt win the title without LeBronJames. But then again, LeBron James doesnt win his first title without hisrole-playing teammates getting the better of their OKC counterparts.

Warriors' championship-level defense may never get recognition it deserves

Warriors' championship-level defense may never get recognition it deserves

The Warriors talk defense from sunup to midnight, and maybe beyond. They explain why defense is essential to their offense, which gets universal praise -- accolades that should go to their defense.

The latest example came Monday, when the NBA announced its All-Defensive teams.

Warriors forward Draymond Green was voted to the first team, one vote short of unanimously, and none of his teammates joined him on the five man first team.

Or the five-man second team.

Guard Klay Thompson finished 12th in the balloting, with 45 votes, including 16 for first place. He was omitted from 71 of 100 ballots.

Forward Kevin Durant finished 23rd, with six votes, all second place. He was omitted from 94 ballots. Guard Stephen Curry finished 29th, with three votes, omitted from 97 ballots.

Forward Andre Iguodala finished 30th, with three votes, including one for first place, and was omitted from 98 ballots.

As always, there was some dubious voting, including the omission of Green from one ballot and the inclusion of Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas -- who ranked 410th among the league’s 411 defenders with a rating -- on one ballot.

But the Warriors continue to be identified by their No. 1-ranked offense while being more accurately defined by their defense, which ranked No. 2 in defensive rating.

It ranked No. 1 in practically every other category that matters. The Warriors were tops in field-goal percentage defense (overall and from 3-point distance), fewest points per shot, blocks and steals.

But if they were hoping for more recognition for the primary reason why they’ve won two championships in three seasons -- and more regular-season games in a three-year span than any team in NBA history -- that’s not happening.

Not now, and maybe not any time soon when folks are so mesmerized by the offensive fireworks provided by Curry, Durant and Thompson.

Draymond Green receives most votes on 2016-17 NBA All-Defensive Team

Draymond Green receives most votes on 2016-17 NBA All-Defensive Team

For the third straight season, Draymond Green is considered one of the best five defenders in the NBA.

The NBA announced Monday that Green was named to the 2017 NBA All-Defensive First Team.

Of the 100 ballots submitted, according to the NBA, Green received 99 first-place votes, but no second-place votes, meaning one voter left Green off their ballot.

Green is joined by Utah's Rudy Gobert, San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles' Chris Paul and Houston's Patrick Beverley.

Gobert and Leonard also recieved 99 of a possible 100 First or Second team votes.

Green, Leonard and Gobert are the three finalists for the Defensive Player of the Year, which will be announced Monday night during the NBA Awards Show in New York.

Green is the first player in Warriors franchise history to earned All-Defensive First Team honors three years in a row.

In a season when he had several game-saving plays, Green averaged 10.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 1.38 blocks and a league-leading 2.03 steals in 76 games. Green was also the first player in franchise history with at least 150 steals and 100 blocks in a season.

Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson received eight First-Team votes and 29 Second-Team votes for a total of 45 points. NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant received six Second-Team votes. Sixth Man of the Year candidate Andre Iguodala received one First-Team vote and one Second-Team vote. Two-time MVP Stephen Curry received three Second-Team votes.

Below are the voting results for the 2016-17 NBA All-Defensive Teams. The balloting was tabulated by the independent accounting firm of Ernst & Young LLP. Complete media ballots will be posted at tomorrow (Tuesday, June 27).