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3 posts from December 2005

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Chronicles of 'Toine

Antoine Walker's not the most difficult person to read. So when you saw his body language on the floor against the Pistons on Thursday, it was pretty depressing. His game that night was even more so, putting up weak shots that got sent back by Ben Wallace and Tayshaun Prince and banking in a three-pointer from the top of the circle.
Fortunately 'Toine decided to bounce back rather than sulk. His game against the Wizards was as active and productive as he has been since the first game of the season in Memphis. He was hitting the boards, which I think is his best chance of staying involved regularly, reading the defender and taking what was given to him rather than just put up a shot because he happened to be by the basket.
It was encouraging to see, and probably more encouraging to hear Pat Riley say after that he still wants to get more stuff in for Antoine so he can be that true No. 3 option on the team and not a random one. That may include more of Walker at the small forward, so look for more of that against bigger lineups -- even though it seems like no one ever goes big anymore.
On an aside, Riley made a great point Friday night about these huge scoring nights this season all coming from guards because the new "you-can't-touch-me-or-it's-a-foul" rules benefit the perimeter players. When was the last time a big man scored 40? I can't remember off the top of my head.
Back to Antoine. If he's ever going to be a consistent threat on this team, other guys are going to have to accept him as a playmaker and play off him when he has the ball rather than just watching him operate. He can pass it, you know. I think Dwyane has done it pretty well, cutting to the rim when 'Toine is driving. So others are going to have to follow suit.
Happy New Year!

Piston effect

So maybe this blog didn't start along with the Heat season, but the start happens to coincide with the first Heat game this season that really meant something. Pat Riley doesn't want to admit the game was a measuring stick, but that's exactly what the Pistons game was, and if you're the Heat, you have to be encouraged.
Having played all of of three games with its starting lineup intact, the Heat hung with the Pistons in Detroit in a game the Pistons happened to be playing very well. The Spurs can't say the same thing about their performance on Christmas Day.
It is obvious, though, that the area in need of most improvement is the defense, which allowed the Pistons to get into a comfort zone right from the jump. It's asking a lot of him, but Dwyane Wade really needs to pick up his defense in games against Richard Hamilton, because Rip does it against him. Granted, Rip gets away with putting his wiry body all over Dwyane and it's Dwyane who ends up getting called for offensive fouls, but Dwyane's still got to hang with Rip on the other end to keep Riley from having to adjust the lineup.
Even though the Heat lost, it's the type of game that reminds the team exactly where it wants to be and kind of refocuses the players on reaching the Pistons' level of play.
The Heat coasted to a win in Washington the very next day, and don't be surprised if the team wins six of its seven games on the upcoming road trip.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

On the Beat:

Miami Heat



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