Heat-Thunder Will Be Fantastic, But Should You Skip ESPN's Pregame Show on ABC?

Heat-Thunder Will Be Fantastic, But Should You Skip ESPN's Pregame Show on ABC?


Heat-Thunder Will Be Fantastic, But Should You Skip ESPN's Pregame Show on ABC?

David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun sounds about as excited as I am for the NBA Finals, but he’s panicking about the ESPN’s pregame coverage on ABC. You can almost hear the fear in his fingers typing this:

I’m excited about that, too, but Johnson’s way-over-the-top enthusiasm and litany of superlatives about the series and the matchup reminded me of how badly ESPN lost its moral compass in covering the signing of James with Miami two years. Remember that embarrassment that ran under the heading “The Decision”?

And I don’t know which was worse, that hype or one of Johnson’s co-panelists, Chris Broussard, immediately jumping in to compare the Durant-James matchup to Magic and Bird. You could hear the sound of the giant suck-up right through the TV.

For the record, Michael Wilbon and Jon Barry are the other two members of the quartet at the table, and compared to TNT’s studio show, this is four guys in a sports bar who you wish would quiet down or find a way to focus their conversation so that their chatter enriched rather than annoyed.

The solution is simple, David: Don’t watch the pregame show. (And if they’re going to put Stephen A. Smith opposite Skip Bayless in the evenings, as they apparently did tonight – damn good thing I wasn’t watching – hell, avoid the entire network until tip-time.) I haven’t done it all season, and the result is that I haven’t had my dreamy childhood memories of Magic Johnson – my favorite player of all-time, regardless of sport – shattered by his poor commentary.

The pick here: Thunder in 6, James Harden MVP. (Everyone’s picking LeBron or Durant; I’ll go out on a limb here.)

My fear is Scott Brooks trying to go “small” at the end of games like he did in Game 1 against San Antonio, and giving LeBron a free lane to the bucket. I think we’ll see a lot of Collison, Ibaka, Durant, Westbrook and Harden late. Collison to defend Bosh; Ibaka on LeBron? The only fear then is LeBron drawing Ibaka 25-feet from the hoop, and blowing by him like he did Brandon Bass in Game 7. But I’d feel much more confident if I were OKC having LeBron take 20-footers late in a tension-packed 4th quarter.

If you think having Collison out there is nuts, and want Ibaka to defend Bosh, well then the Heat are going to take the NBA’s leading shot blocker, and move him out to the perimeter, where Bosh did plenty of damage in Game 7 against Boston. That opens the lane for Wade and LeBron to attack the hoop relentlessly.

Wait, did I just talk myself into taking Miami?

No. No. Thunder in Six it is.

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