5 things from Game 5 of the NBA Finals
MIAMI (AP) -- And it's over. The Miami Heat have captured their second title, the first for LeBron James, and the offseason has officially arrived. But first, a look back at five things we're talking about after Game 5 of the NBA Finals:
LEBRON CAN WIN: Simply put, LeBron James is now a champion. And with a triple-double in the final game of the season, no less. He's the MVP, he's the Finals MVP, he's the best player on the best team in the world. The season was his, by all possible measures. There were nine votes cast for the MVP of the series. He got all nine. The series was closer than it seemed, but there was no question who the best player in the series was. It's the 14th time a player has won the regular-season and Finals MVP award in the same season.
WHAT NOW FOR MIAMI? A parade, then the draft, then some decisions to make. Mike Miller is talking about retirement, though some around him insist that it's not plausible that Thursday was his last NBA game. The roster will change, of course. And training camp is about three months away. It'll fly, but that's a nice problem to have when you know you have LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are coming back to defend a championship.
WHAT NOW FOR OKC? A young team saw what it takes to win a championship. And Dwyane Wade boldly predicted that the Heat will see the Thunder again in another Finals. Oddsmakers in Las Vegas said Thursday night that they're the odds-on choices to get there next year, but really, when doesn't a title series immediately lead to talk of a rematch? Kevin Durant will get better from this loss. So will Russell Westbrook. So will James Harden. Scott Brooks probably will, too. Be afraid, Western Conference.
HEAT CONTINUNITY: Dwyane Wade is a two-time world champion now, as is Udonis Haslem, by the way. They're the only two players left from that club in Miami. But the core of the coaching staff remains. Erik Spoelstra was an assistant then under Pat Riley; he's the sideline boss now. Ron Rothstein, Keith Askins and Bob McAdoo remain assistants from that 2006 team. And Riley is still the team president. Players are the key to any title. But in Miami, it seems like few Heat employees ever actually want to leave. Don't think prospective free agents fail to notice that.
AND WHO WINS IN 2013? Too early for a Finals prediction for next year? Oh, why not. Miami will have its share of challenges next season. The offseason will be short, the demands will be many, and there's likely no way Wade, James and Bosh will grind their way through so much of next year the way they did this one. But Derrick Rose's status is murky at best. Boston may change dramatically. Indiana should be good again. Will Philadelphia take the next step? Or the Knicks, even? And out West, will Kobe Bryant make one more run? San Antonio is San Antonio. And the Thunder will be both talented and driven. Maybe it's too simple, but look for a Finals rematch next year. It'll go seven games. Winner is the team who'll be at home for Game 7. And with that, we declare this season complete.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)