Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Finishing Quarters Key in the Finals

Finishing quarters strong is huge for building momentum. A great finish to an overall bad first quarter can propel a team into a fantastic second quarter, and so on. The value that good finishes can have doesn't change in the NBA Finals. If the Thunder or Heat finish a quarter well, they'll probably come out with the same, if not more confidence in the next quarter. As a general rule, momentum from finishing quarters or games strong only carries over in that particular game, each game has it's own feel and factors that make one team more confident. How have the Heat and Thunder done scoring the ball in the last two minutes of quarters?

Throughout the first three games of the Finals, the Thunder are +10 in points in the last two minutes of quarters. Miami lost the battle of points in the last two minutes of quarters in games one and two, but had a huge advantage of +16 in game three. What's the trend here?

The team that finishes quarters well mostly controls the stat throughout the game, but the team that scores more in the final two minutes of quarters doesn't always win. Two-thirds of the games have been won by the team scoring more in the last two minutes of quarters (game two being the exception). This magnifies how finishing each quarter does help, but even 12 minutes of NBA basketball can have massive momentum swings.

What importance will this stat have going forward in this series? The more games into this series we get, the more important finishes quarters will be. Why is that? The more pressure builds up, the more these teams understand one another and the importance of sheer skill increases, the more vital confidence is. Let's say the Thunder have a lousy third quarter, but then things begin to change around the three minute mark of the third. James Harden hits a three and the foul and the Thunder bench cheers in excitement.

Not only does that mean four points are likely going on the board, it means the team is in a better state of mind. That makes them raise their own expectations of themselves. They're thinking, "if James can hit that kind of shot, why can't I?" So the Thunder add that confidence from that one play to their game. Then they go on to finish the last two minutes of the third +8.

While that may not get them the lead, that will get their most positive leaders believing a comeback is possible. Scott Brooks will preach to the quire about how great this team can be, why they should go for the win and how to do so. Then Kevin Durant will realize it as the fourth gets underway and start putting the ball in the bucket.

The power of finishing quarters strong is it sends waves of confidence to each person involved with the team. Not only do Westbrook and Durant believe they can comeback and take that game, but Scott Brooks and Mo Cheeks will sense it too. Finishing quarters is something that's easy to track, but not easy to magnify in impact.

Finishing each quarter will always have a high importance in basketball. It's just like scoring; you can't win without it. Expect the Heat and Thunder to finish each quarter with the best of their abilities in an attempt to build team morale. Whoever does it consistently will win most of the games, the stats show. Load up and attempt to aim and fire in the last two minutes boys, they're of utmost importance!

Wanna keep up with points in the last two minutes of quarters? Follow @NBAtipoff on Twitter and keep checking NBAtipoff for updates and analysis!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Miami Heat: What Can They Do To Win Game 2?

The Miami Heat need to win game two in OKC tonight. Here's a video on what the Miami Heat need to do to win:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

NBA Finals Start TONIGHT

Via RealGM
The 2012 NBA finals get started tonight. The Thunder and Heat meet in game one tonight at 9 PM Eastern time on ABC. Are you hyped?!? This is the start of the end, everything's on the line. What should we expect in game one?

To start this series out, both teams will try and get a feel for one another. Both teams have watched film, practiced and tried to put their best foot forward, BUT there's nothing like being out there. Hearing the crazy Oklahoma City crowd, hitting the bulk of LeBron James head on and leaving everything on the floor is completely different from the days before doing so. Turnovers, early tentativeness and sloppy, up and down play may be prevalent during parts of the first quarter.

As the game progresses, expect crisp execution, especially on defense. Both the Thunder and Heat can play real solid D. Though I'm hoping for some offensive fluidity, the defense might get the best of both teams sometimes. The Thunder are real deep, expect their bench to make some offensive inroads against the limited Miami second unit.

The pace of this series should be blistering. These teams are young, athletic and excel in a speed game. The faster the game, the more the defensive ability of each team is limited. Towards the end of the game, the pace will slow down.

While slowing down the pace doesn't make sense for teams that run, it's just how teams close games. The latter half of the forth quarter should be slow and steady. Hopefully the game is fluid and not filled with free throws. That's my only worry when the game slows down.

Offensive execution in the half-court will be a huge key in this series. Which team can play best when they need to run a play? How will the continuity be throughout the game? These questions may just answer the question of who will win this series.

Don't forget about the start of the NBA finals tonight! 9 PM Eastern on ABC. Let these NBA finals be great for everyone involved!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

OKC-Celtics Finals Matchup?

My latest video:

Monday, June 04, 2012

Spurs Role Players Need to Bring It

The Spurs need to copy the theme the Thunder won with in game four. Role players coming through early (it was mainly Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka for OKC), then Kevin Durant came in and iced the game. The Spurs stars can only do so much. The game plan is designed to stop them. Nobody predicted the Thunder bigs would come out the way they did in the last game.

What's the point of the Spurs getting huge contributions from their role players? If other players get hot offensively, it opens up the floor for the whole team to attack. Maybe the Thunder are doubling Manu Ginobili, or keeping three guys close to Tim Duncan. When Danny Green hits a few jumpers, DeJuan Blair rolls for a couple easy buckets and Gary Neal drives and finishes, the whole offensive dynamic changes.

Everyone can find open looks. Fluidity becomes the norm. Playoff basketball is simple basketball. Balanced offense for the Spurs is the key to them winning this series and vital if they want to win it all. They have no chance if Stephen Jackson and Manu Ginobili are the only bench players approaching double figures. The minimum they should look for is two in double figures, with a third guy being real close or at double figures too. That way there's other players Scott Brooks and his staff have to plan for.

Both of these teams are stacked, but it's not always about offense for each player on both teams. Guys like Tiago Splitter, Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison are examples of guys who aren't offensive minded. When Kendrick Perkins came out in game four and jump started the Thunder offense, that was something totally unpredictable.

The Spurs as a team had to first just react to it happening, then they had to execute a way to slow down Perkins and Ibaka. Forcing teams out of what their main plans of attack are puts them on their heels. That's what happened in game four for OKC, and that's what's necessary in game five for San Antonio.

Going back home will be great for the Spurs. After losing game three by 20 and coming up just six short in game four, getting some support from their fans will be refreshing. They've got to come out and be the great team we know they are. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are great, but how great is a give and go between Tony Parker and Boris Diaw? That Manu Ginobili isolation jumper was money, but how about the drive and kick for a Danny Green triple? The continuity the Spurs play with will define their destiny tonight and beyond.