During the 1960s, Adam West and Burt Ward took command of the airwaves by finding multiple ways to escape danger and come through and catch criminals on the hit television series Batman. The caped crusaders were so resourceful and efficient that they carried the nickname the Dynamic Duo.
Indeed, they became an incredible twosome that really had no equal.
In keeping up with the clever word play, fans and media members of the NBA have bestowed that very same title on a few truly great pairs of NBA greats. Heck, NBA.com has a whole post titled Top 10 Greatest Dynamic Duo that features the names of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, John Stockton and Karl Malone, Tim Duncan and David Robinson, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal and obviously Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen to name a few.
But if we fast-forward to the present, we will notice that the league currently has two very dynamic and entertaining pairs of wing players that have the potential to perhaps one day end up on that NBA.com list.
Granted, both are still in the early stages of their partnerships, but this past weekend exhibited a sign of possible things to come from the NBA’s current dynamic duos, who just happen to play in opposite conferences.
On Saturday night, the Oklahoma City Thunder had a chance to steal a game at the Staples Center to take a 3-1 series lead at the expense of the Los Angeles Lakers. But in order to do so, they would need a quality performance from their stars given the purple and gold’s ability to rise to the occasion at home.
And for most of the second half, it just seemed as though Kobe Bryant and his teammates would find a way to keep the Thunder at bay and go back to OKC for Game 5 with the series tied.
Indeed, the Lakers spent most of the third quarter with a lead close to double digits and even had a chance to pull away and turn the game into a rout. But Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant had other ideas.
Westbrook got himself to the rim and converted a few midrange jumpers on his way to a 13-point quarter while KD hit a few long-range shots as well as a couple of freebies. By the time the quarter ended, the stars combined to score 21 of the 25 Thunder points as OKC trailed by nine points to open up the fourth quarter.
With the score well within striking distance, Scott Brooks decided to ride his stars and play them the rest of the way. Together, they helped stymie the Lakers who scored 20 points on 31.8 percent field goal shooting in the final period.
Their biggest contributions came on the offensive side of the ball, as they combined for 21 points on 6-for-9 field goal shooting and 8-for-11 free throw shooting.
Westbrook probed the paint a little and continued to do damage from midrange all the while helping set things up for his partner in crime. And with the game hanging in the balance late with the scored tied; OKC put the ball in the hands of Kevin Durant who hit cold-blooded 3-pointer that essentially ended up being the game-winning shot.
The twosome were at that point in time the undisputed best one-two punch of the weekend thanks to their combined 68 points, 15 rebounds and 7 assists on 25-for-44 shooting from the field.
But then, Sunday happened…
Most would say that on paper LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are the one and only dynamic duo that truly matters today in the NBA, but then again there have been times where their union has seemed to be somewhat uneasy. Much like their counterparts in Oklahoma City, some have said that the partnership might be doomed to fail because it often looks as though one of the players is overstepping his boundaries.
Everyone knew who the Batman in Miami and OKC was, and yet there were occasions where doubts lingered given how things unfolded late in ball games.
The narrative became that Dwyane Wade had to be the closer in Miami and that Russell Westbrook was sabotaging his team’s chances by asserting himself at times in the closing seconds of contests.
LeBron and KD were the lead characters, but occasionally had to take a backseat; and that seemed to be a foreign concept to most.
Kobe and Michael always had the final play called for them and that’s the standard that most had been accustomed to: one guy showing up to make plays in the clutch, not two.
That’s the perception now a days, and it’s entirely off.
KD doesn’t drill a game winner in L.A. without the help of RW and Miami doesn’t win Game 4 in Indiana if James and Wade play as solo acts.
With the Heat needing a win to avoid a 3-1 series deficit, they turned to LeBron James to lead them to victory; except the three-time MVP had other ideas.
Instead of submitting another phenomenal individual performance, James did something that we hadn’t seen him do often because it had never really been needed before: he got Wade going.
James started out the game by looking for his shot to establish a tempo and lead his team. In the second quarter however he looked for his All-Star teammate and got him going as the former Finals MVP produced eight points.
The strategy paid off as Wade essentially went nuts in the second half and gave the league MVP a partner in crime to help lead the way. How good was the pair in the second half of Game 4? Look at their production after halftime:
- Dwyane Wade: 22 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists on 10-for-13 field goal shooting.
- LeBron James: 21 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals on 6-for-13 field goal shooting.
In the second half alone, the Heat teammates produced statistical lines that could be a considered career games for most NBA players.
Both superstars played with a great amount of energy as they were quite active on the defensive end and on the boards with their team truly needing outstanding play from them. On offense, they played well in unison, foregoing the isolation route and instead playing with movement and crisp passing.
The Indiana Pacers have done a great job defensively in this series loading up on the stars and forcing them to pass out to shooters who seem to be in a funk. However, in Game 4, the Heat played more like a team as the stars looked to score but also looked for each other thanks in large part to a greater activity level off the ball that brought back memories from the Boston-Miami playoff series from last spring.
Wade and James were bullies on offense. They got to the basket for thunderous finishes, took hits and kept coming, made a few jumpers to keep the defense honest, hit a series of floaters and bank shots, and they always found each other.
Prior to the end of the game, Wade and James shared a dap/hug that seemed rather symbolic of their performance. One great player leaning on the other as they combined for an impressive 70 points, 27 rebounds, 15 assists, 3 steals and 4 blocks on 27-for-50 field goal shooting.
An argument could be made that Westbrook, Durant, Wade and James were the best players in the postseason this past weekend and that’s a testament to their skill, talent and ability to play together.
Once again, it’s premature to put them in the pantheon of greats at this point, but 14 years after Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen gave us one of the greatest dynamic duos in league history; isn’t it funny that we now have two great one-two punches that feature a small forward and a guard?
Seems like the NBA is in a great place for the foreseeable future…
Statistical support provided by NBA.com.
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