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NBA Playoffs: Star Power Versus Methodology

Photo by REUTERS/Hans Deryk

By Mark Loiselle

Does money and fame overrule methodology when it comes to applying a team in the NBA?

This question has been raised due to the Miami Heat‘s “Dynamic” Duo of LeBron James and Dwayne Wade’s under-performance year in and year out.

It makes you wonder if Miami is worried about star power rather than winning.

Going into the 2011-2012 season, the Miami Heat were favored to win the 2012 NBA Championship—which is still possible.

Looking at the roster from top to bottom, it is is hard to believe that this “elite” team is one game away from being abolished. Pat Riley’s franchise has went from high with Dwayne Wade and Shaquille O’Neal to low with Wade and MVP LeBron James.

“They’re Hollywood as hell,” Chicago Bulls power forward, Joakim Noah stated last year.

As much as I dislike Noah, he establishes a true point. Is Miami just Hollywood?

Through the course of this post season, the Heat are becoming a team characterized as a bunch of superstars who can’t seal the deal when it comes winning a NBA championship.

When Riley signed Dwyane WadeLeBron James and Chris Bosh for a sum of $328 million, many people thought the South Beach team was all-in, especially to grant James and Bosh a championship.

Two years later, the Heat have acknowledged they aren’t the favorites anymore. There are other teams looking and searching for the equivalent goal.

Teams like the Oklahoma City ThunderBoston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs come to mind for many as methodical teams. Within these teams, its not all about the bells and whistles but putting piece by piece to the puzzle.

Commencing with the Thunder.

This team is hands down the most underrated and respected team in the league. When Sam Presti and company transformed into the Thunder, expectations were skyrocketing in the eventful city of Oklahoma.

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Thunder have earned admiration for building the franchise from the ground up, starting off with the scoring champion Kevin Durant.

The former Texas Longhorn was utilized as the centerpiece for their dynasty. Then, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Serge Ibaka went as followed.

Granted, they did trade for the big man Kendrick Perkins. Looking at what they needed, he fit exceptionally when this move took place.

Oklahoma City has turned a dull franchise into a potential masterful dynasty, as they have turned piece by piece into an NBA championship caliber squad.

Two other teams that are in the running for another championship are the Boston Celtics and the San Antonio Spurs.

These teams have been profoundly criticized as being too old to compete in this year’s playoffs.

Doc Rivers’ team has a knack to always be there in the end, through the toughness, grit, and relentlessness in the demeanor of the team.

It starts off with the real “Big Three.”

“The Boston Celtics are showing the difference between a team and a couple of stars on a team,” ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith commented on SportsCenter.

“There is a huge difference.”

For a successful team in this league, you need to factor in a point guard and a big man—the rest will follow.

Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett are the foundation of the Celtics’ charge for another banner.

Paul Pierce is far beyond a complimentary player, he is essentially in his own category. He is the captain and leader of this Boston Celtics team.

Photo by Associated Press

The mechanic running this machine is Doc Rivers. This coach has presented time and time again that he is right for the job, and perhaps one of the greatest basketball coaches in all of the game, in such a small duration.

His poise and motivation to conduct this team is extraordinary.

Through timeouts, in between games or with pregame and postgame speeches, he has preached the right words to his guys to lead and follow each other.

The San Antonio Spurs are the same.

The “old and experienced” team has increasingly rose above all expectations, finishing in a first place tie for the best team in the league.

Even though they are down 3-2 in the Western Conference Finals, this team, like the Boston Celtics, has shown it’s not all about the fame.

It is about if you can get the job done.

Greg Popovich’s team has displayed a fundamentally-sound play of basketball through four NBA championships.

Miami should start taking some notes on how to build an intelligent and strong foundation that doesn’t require spending millions of dollars on players who play the same game.

Instead, they should educate themselves on what these three teams have shown— the construction of a team in a methodical way and ignorance of start power.

The focus should be on togetherness.

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