Tim Crone: NBA Finals prove interesting with different teams

The Examiner
Tim Crone

The month of July is a good month to follow many sporting championships. 

Novak Djokovic has won a Wimbledon title for the third year in a row and the sixth during his career. He has won 20 grand slam events during his run. The Tampa Bay Lightning won hockey’s Stanley Cup. The British Open golf tournament will have a chance to crown a winner after last year’s pandemic cancellation. Major League Baseball showcased the All-Star Game after a year off. The NFL will begin to open camps at the end of the month. 

The one sport that does not draw much media coverage around this area of the country is the NBA. I have watched the games since the beginning of the playoff season (the Royals have become too difficult to watch).

The NBA is still light years away from drawing the level of interest given to the NFL. Seven million people watched the second game of the NBA Finals. Last year in an NFL makeup game that the Pittsburgh Steelers played on a Wednesday at 5 p.m. because of COVID-19 protocols had eight million viewers. 

This year the NBA has two teams that are not regulars to the finals – the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks. The Suns have a great young team led by a veteran point guard Chris Paul. The Bucks have a two-time MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo, better known as the “Greek Freak.” 

Both teams have made an impressive run through to the finals. The Suns had a much easier time in getting to the championship series. They beat the Los Angeles Clippers in six games but had about five days of rest before they met the Bucks. 

The Bucks are interesting to watch. They are either good and blow teams out or they make some of the dumbest moves of any team in the league. They are much better on the road. 

The Suns have two young superstars in Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. Booker can shoot lights out and can create his own shot. Ayton has established himself as special at the end of the year, especially during the playoffs. 

Booker is one of three guys who will be playing for the U.S. Olympic team. The other two Olympians are Bucks standouts Jrue Holliday and Khris Middleton, who are both unpredictable. When the Bucks are playing well, these two play like the stars they are paid to be. 

The current NBA strategy is to spread the floor to let the offensive creators penetrate and then kick out to the 3-point shooters on the perimeter. If either team goes cold from the 3-point line they are in trouble. Free throw shooting also sticks out like a sore thumb. The Suns are the top free throw shooting team in the league. The Bucks, and especially the Greek Freak, have had their problems in that area. 

An interesting phenomenon in the series is that guys off the bench have played a key role in the win, not one of the big three of either team. 

The officials have been abused by the talking heads throughout the game. Admittedly it has been hard to figure out what is or is not a foul. However, the games have been entertaining and worth watching. 

For local fans – thank goodness the college and NFL seasons are only a few weeks away. The Chiefs have a legitimate shot at the playoffs. 

• The quote of the week comes from Boston Celtics Hall of Fame player John Havlicek: “Confidence comes from preparation and the only way to be fully prepared is to practice something until you have it down so well, you’re sure it will work.” 

Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at t.crone@comcast.net.