We're down to five teams in the hunt for an NBA championship, and the drama is building.
Saturday night will top it off with a Game 7 which gets us to the final four teams. I can't wait for the Conference Finals to start. With that in mind, here are five quick takes on what's been going on around the league.
1. Shaq the general manager in Orlando: I almost fell off my chair the other night when I heard the news/rumors about him interviewing for the vacant spot. Come on, let's be serious.
He was a wonderful player, a great talent, a future Hall of Famer and a funny guy. I don't see him as a fit for the GM role in Orlando. Don't forget, he left there under less than positive circumstances bolting for LA. Being a GM is a hard job and there is a great deal of work involved on a day to day basis that I don't see a guy like Shaq rolling up his sleeves to do over a long period of time.
Glad he pulled out of the running. Thankfully, common sense prevailed here.
2. Erik Spoelstra (Miami): I'm personally and professionally a fan of him and his abilities as a head coach.
A true test of a head coach or leader is how you 'circle the wagons' when things get tough. He was down 2-1 to Indianapolis, lost Chris Bosh to injury and then the Udonis Haslem to suspension. He had his team prepared on the road to close a series out and totally outplayed the Pacers.
Their defense was excellent forcing turnovers and contesting shots consistently. Yes, he and D-Wade had a run-in during Game 3 - good for them. Sometimes you've got to get after folks to get results. He and Wade have had a great working relationship over a long period of time and stuff like that happens.
Bottom line, the results the past three games were awesome to watch.
3. The Big 2 (Heat): LeBron and D-Wade – The past three games have been really special to watch as that's as good as I've seen them play together in the close to two years they've been in Miami.
Both of them responded beautifully to the pressure of the moment and rose to the occasion. That's what great ones do. Thing that impressed me was how well they gelled and played with chemistry and complete and total focus/purpose.
I'm not a fan of the Heat and all the nonsense associated with the story over the past 22 months but I'll tell you what, between the lines, they've got my respect.
4. Boston vs. Philadelphia (Game # 7): There have been a bunch of lousy/dull moments in this series that have disappointed me. Here's hoping that we get an entertaining final game.
Bottom line, Rajon Rondo has to be a force in this game. Philly did a terrific job of keeping the Celtics out of the lane and he's a nightmare for opponents when he can get to the rim. I said it a while back--'He's the straw that stirs the drink.' Stop him and the 76ers have a fighting chance. Rondo gets in the lane and creates havoc and now Garnett, Allen and Pierce get easier shots.
Boston better get out of the gate strong and set the tone. Don't want to be under the gun late against a team like Philly with nothing to lose. I like the Celtics in this game by 6 points.
5. Spurs vs. Thunder (Spurs in 7): I Love the dynamics in play with these two teams as we approach the Western Conference Finals.
Both can score a bunch of points and each team has outstanding stars (Durrant-Westbrook-Harden vs. Duncan-Parker-Ginobili), Excellent coaches and management, top-notch fan bases.
This series has all the makings of being sensational. The difference in my opinion will be who has the better depth/second Unit, and I think the Spurs have a slight edge here. The Spurs also get the nod with regards to experience, but the Thunder have the edge in scoring/athleticism and skill.
When it's all said and done, this is a 'Pick em' series. I've gone back and forth a hundred times on whom I like better and I lean a slight bit to the Spurs, but not by much. Keep an eye out for Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins for OKC, if they can be a force inside and on the glass, they can give the Spurs fits if they're effective. Remember the Grizzlies series last year for the Spurs, they got their tails kicked inside, but they're a deeper and better team this time around.
Sit back and enjoy--can't wait for this one.