Freeman Cebu Sports

Heart of a Champion

EVERY POUND COUNTS - Allan 'Coach A' Choachuy - The Freeman

My crystal ball prediction of an all-Los Angeles showdown in the West has been broken into pieces as the road to the NBA Finals is down to four teams. This is the most playoff games I have watched and could be the toughest going to the conference finals. So if you have missed the first two rounds, here are some of my TOP 5 moments:

TOP 5.The Oklahoma City Thunder came close to upset the Houston Rockets in the first round of the series as it went the length of seven games. Chris Paul,  OKC’s floor leader, showed brilliant performance reminiscent of his younger playing years that’s a glaring proof to his championship DNA. Houston was just lucky to escape and played haplessly in the second round against the Lakers. I wasted my time watching the series. It was awful and unworthy for the NBA fans. I would have loved the OKC to play against Lakers.

TOP 4. Miami Heat stunned the league’s best team Milwaukee Bucks, 4-1. The Heat built a strong defensive wall against reigning MVP and 2020 Defensive player Giannis Antetokounmpo, who looked lost especially at the endgame. The resurgence of Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic, Jae Crowder and sensational rookies Tyler Herro and Kenrick Nunn provided spark for the Heat. It’s back to the drawing board for the Bucks but for me, Milwaukee should just review the LAST DANCE documentary.

TOP 3. Boston vs Toronto series. The Boston Celtics dethroned the defending champion Toronto Raptors in an epic series that lasted the full Game 7. Actually Boston was up 2-0 and ready to close out Game 3 if not for a miracle shot by OG Anunoby from a nifty assist by Kyle Lowry. The Raptors then came back and tied the series 3-3 before finally bowing to the mighty Celtics. For me, the Raptors overachieved in their playoff run and even came close to a second straight conference finals appearance. Lowry took over from last year’s Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and showed us championship DNA. Lowry work hard and gave everything, earned praises from Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith. Pascal Siakam was a disappointment as he played indecisively and hesitated to take charge. 

TOP 2.Luca Doncic’s step-back 3 for the win vs Clippers. The wonder kid from Slovenia has been shooting the lights out this season as he continues to improve his game. In his only second year in the league, Luca has been a dominant force scoring at will. With Luca around, expect Dallas to come back stronger next season.

TOP 1. The Denver Nuggets historic feat of coming back from a 3-1 deficit twice in the same postseason. The Nuggets are responsible for sending the heavy favorites LA Clippers home. Nikola Jokic, one of the best passing centers in the NBA annals, has the resemblance of the great Larry Bird with his sweet shooting and passing ability. Jamal Murray was like an energy bunny who keeps on going and going, banking timely 3-pointers when it mattered the most for Denver.  The Clippers,  on the other hand, were a big disappointment. Both Leonard and Paul George laid a big fat egg in the 4th quarter during Game 7 that sealed their doom. All the hype built upon the Clippers-Lakers West Finals came tumbling down.

Meanwhile, the Heat are now 2-0 against the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. The greatest block shot by Bam Adebayo on Tatum nailed it for Miami in the opener. In Game 2, the Heat climbed back from 17 points down to whip Boston again. But just don’t count out Boston yet though Game 3 set on Sunday is crucial. Boston needs to find their rhythm and should be patient in running their offense. Miami, on the other hand, looks like the championship team of San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors with their never ending movement of players, cutting and passing, making them difficult to defend.

The Western Conference Finals is happening today between the LA Lakers and the Denver Nuggets. Although everyone is giving the series to the Lakers, everyone must be reminded of the old saying that the ball is round. Denver has nothing to lose and looks like a team on a mission. The Lakers have the championship DNA of LeBron. On their part, Murray and Jokic are still learning the curves of having the heart of a champion. Good for the Nuggets if they will be able to summon that character in their tough series against the formidable Lakers. As what famous coach Rudy Tomjanovic said:“Never Underestimate the heart of a Champion”.



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