We're through four games in each Conference Finals series and we now know that starting next Tuesday, we'll be starting the NBA Finals right here on TSN. Should be fun. Here are some quick thoughts on Kevin Durant, Billy King and more.
1. Kevin Durant (Thunder): The cream rises to the top and one of the great players in the game put on an absolute show late in Game #4 on Saturday night. I love his poise and the focus he plays with. Mature in his approach and you can clearly see that he has put the time in each day on his game that when the big moments come, he's totally prepared to deliver. Input equals output and it's evident that this gym rat has paid the price and can deliver. His game is all about substance and his length is a huge help in his ability to get off tough shots over folks. Series now at 2-2 and a big reason why is the improved OKC defence, play of their Big's and most importantly, they have a star who is a true pro.
2. Billy King (Nets): The GM is under a ton of pressure to deliver this off-season. The lottery was a disaster for them losing their pick to the Blazers due to the Gerald Wallace trade. Now Wallace can opt out of his deal as well and demand a longer term deal. I like Wallace but he's got lots of 'city miles' on him from all his great hustle over the years. Not sure he's a guy that you give big money or a long-term deal. Deron Williams can walk as a free agent, which would be a devastating development. Dwight Howard? Who knows how that will work out. Moving to Brooklyn, the expectations will increase to produce W's and compete with the Knicks for the back page. Lots of moving parts in play and a huge deal of scrutiny will exist in the next few months. Better produce on the big stage.
3. Nate McMillan: Former Blazers and Sonics coach is a free agent and his name has been mentioned in a few openings. He is a sound coach who has improved year-by-year as a tactician and leader. Gets a lot out of his players which is crucial over a long season. Will and should be on the short list when it comes to any job. Holds guys accountable and has shown me the ability to keep things together when times are tough and pull his teams through. I look at the big picture and when you view his overall resume, it gets a thumbs up.
4. Jeff Van Gundy: As a former coach who works as a TV analyst, I can relate to the transition from the sideline to the broadcast world and it's an adjustment going from making decisions and being under a ton of pressure to having 'the best seat in the house' with the ability to first and second guess players, coaches and referees like everyone else. He has made an excellent adjustment to his new career and can have a long successful run if he chooses to stay in it. I'm sure he'll end up on the bench again at some point but in the meantime, I'm enjoying his candor, insight and humor. He's got 'it' for the gig he's in. Everyone thinks they can do it but few do it really well and he's one of them. Refreshing listen.
5. Heat/Celtics: All knotted up at 2-2 as well in this series and home court is a big key in both Conference Finals. Bottom line in this series, who has the better compete level will win it. Obviously, in Wade and James, the Heat have great wing guys but Rajon Rondo's ability to create pace and easy scores for his team is a big factor that Miami has to tighten up on. Still like the Heat due to the fact that they hold home court and I strongly feel they will increase their defensive effort; first half defence Sunday night was brutal. Love how hard the Celtics have played last three games. The moment of truth has arrived for the Heat; can't get beat by the Celtics, even without Chris Bosh. The old guys in Beantown have stood their ground. Response time.