TSN's Jack Armstrong offers his thoughts on the NBA Finals, the Rockets' big name free agent pursuit, the next step for Jason Kidd, officiating and coaching vacancies.
1. The NBA Finals: I picked the Heat in seven and after watching two games of this series so far, I'm even more convinced that it's going to go seven games. I still like the Heat but the margin of error between the two teams is quite small. Both teams make good adjustments and both have excellent coaching and smart veteran players who can adapt on the fly which is so critical this time of year. It's so important to keep an eye on two areas that are developing as major points of emphasis for both teams: the usage of the three-point shot and the turnover margin battle. The team that wins these categories is going to have a terrific chance to win that night's game due to the style of play that both employ. There will be less prep time between Game 2 & Game 3 and between Games 3 & 4 so these upcoming games in San Antonio are more about what your 'seasonal habits' (both good and bad) have been and less about the extensive attention to detail that both teams thrive on.
2. The Houston Rockets: They are being mentioned in the free-agent pursuit of both Dwight Howard and Chris Paul. Whether the chatter is legit or not it's the right approach for the Rockets. It's very important for them to get it into the minds of agents, media, opposing teams and - most importantly - those two players. They must show others that they mean business in this thing and to swing for the fences. That always helps with selling your message and creating a perception that the Rockets are going places. Will they land one or both? It's too early to tell. But they'll surely get their attention and an audience. You gotta be in it to win it.
3. Jason Kidd: I respect the wonderful career that he had as a Player. Reports are now swirling that he's going to sit down with the Nets to address his interest in being their head coach. With Mark Jackson having an excellent second year after a rough first one in Golden State as well as ex-players like Doc Rivers and Larry Bird having early success as head coaches after retiring it helps his argument if he surrounds himself with 'qualified' assistant coaches rather than some buddies. I'll say this though, if you're an owner, president and/or general manager of a team, you've got tons of cash invested in your business. Are you willing to take the risk to see if it might work with a novice coach? I'm not saying it won't work. You just don't see this approach too often in the NFL, NHL and MLB. Must make sure he's the 'right' guy for your particular challenge and he must have an excellent staff not a bunch of guys on 'lifetime scholarship'.
4. Joey Crawford: He officiated Game 2 last night and on the whole there were no real issues. Yes, we all remember his showdown with Tim Duncan and that he has a penchant for being 'strong minded' but to be perfectly honest with you, I've watched this guy officiate for 15 years in my time as a broadcaster and if I were coaching again, I'd have no reservations whatsoever with him calling my games. He loves the game, works hard at it, knows what he's doing and isn't afraid to make the big call. Particularly if I'm the road team, I have complete faith that he won't allow the home crowd and/or the home coach to sway him into making a call. I want a guy like that on a big game.
5. Coaching Vacancies: It's been open game on NBA head coaches this season. To whom much money is given, much is expected. I get all that. I'll say this, though, some folks in many NBA markets need to come to grips and be more realistic. Only one team wins it all. We're all obsessed reaching the 'Holy Grail' of winning an NBA Title, yet it's important to remember that there are so many factors that go into that special/unique season and few ever experience it. Simply put, the fact that you win a bunch of games and then don't win it all doesn't make you a failure. You came up short. Not every team is blessed with great talent and the proper ingredients. I'm not saying that Coaching changes aren't necessary at times but I do think that more often than not it's a matter of a lack of realism about what a Team truly has at its disposal and what they can/can't accomplish. Crazy Business.