Mike Krzyzewski could have a lot to scowl about if his three best players come to the Olympics exhausted.
Hey, Olympic fans: We need to start rooting for a Celtics-Spurs Final. Right now. Allow me to explain.
Fact 1: The first games of Olympic Basketball begin on July 28.
This is not new. The Olympics take place once every four years, which means that the event schedule is released with plenty of time for professional sports leagues that send athletes to the games to plan accordingly.
Fact 2: Due to a lockout, the NBA Finals may not end until June 23 or so.
Also due to the lockout, players have played more games between January 1 and right now than they are used to, with shorter recovery times than they are used to.
So let’s consider this possible scenario:
The Miami Heat go seven games with the Boston Celtics and manage to prevail (NOOOOO!!) in overtime. Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Thunder scrape by in a seven-game series with the San Antonio Spurs.
After these grueling conference finals, the Heat and Thunder go seven games in an epic finals performance. LeBron James and Dwayne Wade carry Miami for stretches at a time, but Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant respond with huge games of their own.
For purposes of this scenario it doesn’t matter who wins, because there is a major loser in such a scenario.
That would be Team USA Basketball, who would have to contend with…
-An exhausted Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook
-An exhausted LeBron James and Dwayne Wade
-An injured Chris Bosh who may or may not be able to play in the Olympics at all
-An exhausted James Harden, who is on the 2012 roster
Will the lockout-shortened schedule come back to haunt USA Basketball in London?
That might be a problem come Olympic time, being that there is only one month for those players to practice, get over to London and play significant minutes in a tournament of increasing difficulty. But hey, maybe we can trust Carmelo Anthony to play for Jim Boeheim, who is an assistant on Team USA (So is Mike D’Antoni…).
Maybe Lob City could put on the Team USA uniform and turn into Lob Nation. Or, maybe we would prefer to have the three best basketball players on the planet as rested and healthy as possible, which is why we need a Celtics-Spurs finish.
For reference, no Spurs and no Celtics appear on the Team USA roster. No Kevin Garnett, no Paul Pierce, no Rajon Rondo, no Tim Duncan. This is their chance to contribute to the Olympic effort by saving the stars of Team USA from having to go up against each other in the NBA Finals.
Rondo, Pierce and Garnett can chip in for their country as early as tonight by putting Miami on the brink—six games is less wear on LeBron and Wade than seven, after all, and maybe Bosh gets healthy if he doesn’t sneak into this series—and finishing them off in the TD Garden on Thursday.
This would be a good time to start appreciating Tim Duncan for the great player he’s always been. Duncan coming back on the Thunder saves precious mileage on Kevin Durant that Mike Krzyzewski could use.
Imagine Coach K trying to deal with his team if Durant, Westbrook and Harden are running on fumes. Yes, Team USA is deep, but things would be a bit easier with the NBA’s best scorer available to score in London.
Every game the Heat and Thunder continue to play takes a toll on them that could limit them in London.
It’s not like the rest of the team has had an easy year. Kobe Bryant played a lot of games in 2012 as well. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin played quite a few as well. Andre Iguodala was still playing until very recently. Lamar Odom (yep, he’s on the roster) had a rough year. Deron Williams’ future is uncertain and will continue to be uncertain when he arrives in London.
Suddenly, Olympic basketball is not the slam dunk we’re used to. So we need to root for the Celtics and the Spurs in their respective conference finals. You know, for America.
Of course, this couldn’t have a thing to do with me being a Celtics fan or anything…