« April 2006 | Main | June 2006 »

22 posts from May 2006

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Hurry up and wait

So, the Phoenix wins means the Finals won't start until June 8, which means if the Heat wins in Game 5, the team will have SEVEN days off before playing again. Don't know if that would be good or bad, but there are arguments for both sides.
I'm convinced that Phoenix series is going seven. Every time it seems like a team figures out Phoenix, the Suns explode and change the equation all over again.

One last thing about Game 4. People seem to want to point out that Jason Williams was scoreless and Antoine Walker took just five shots, and if those players are on the floor for offense, then what's the point of keeping them out there?
Well, regardless of their numbers, the Heat won pretty comfortably, so they must be doing something right. I seem to remember J-Will stripping Billups on a spin move, leading to a fast break basket, and he makes smart decisions in the halfcourt and on the break. And when Antoine is on the floor, the Pistons zone becomes that less effective because they have to at least consider him a three-point threat, even if he's not shooting. So just because those two aren't scoring, it doesn't make them useless.


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Just plain better

Can't really blame Flip Saunders anymore for the Pistons problems. The Pistons went back to what they do best: Tayshaun and Rasheed in the post, Billups orchestrating early (one shot in the first half) and getting aggressive late, playing off Rip Hamilton and moving the ball, and defensively they were playing about as well as they can play.
And yet, the Heat still won. It's because they're just a better team. It makes you wonder that if last year's team was healthy, would it have been in the Finals?

Rasheed's act may be wearing a little thin in Detroit. He acts like he wants the ball in the post and wants to dominate the game, but then he settles for bad shots at times and sets half-hearted screens and goes through the motions at other times. He concerns himself so much with the officiating (king of the conspiracty theories) so much that it takes him out of his game. I'm pretty sure his teammates are starting to wonder if Sheed will remain interested if this team remains on the decline (from champs to runner-ups to no Finals at all).

Dwyane Wade is the key to wrapping the series up in five. He'll have to keep the Heat afloat early in Detroit, then demoralize the Pistons defenders as the game goes along. A Game 6 would be very dangerous, if necessary.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Pop quiz, hot shot

Season's on the line, down one, five seconds left. Dwyane Wade is double-teamed immediately at halfcourt, forcing the ball out of his hands. No time to get it back to him.
What do you do?
Lineup on the floor?
Who makes the play?
Who takes the shot?
What's the result?
No Big Shot Bob here. What do you do?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

It gets bigger

The Heat might have won a big game Saturday, but that only makes Monday's game the biggest this team has ever played. If the Heat goes up 3-1, the team is almost guaranteed a spot in the Finals. If Detroit ties it at 2-2, the team will be in for a nearly impossible road to the Finals.
That said, the Pistons have no one to guard either Shaq or Dwyane, so that makes the Heat's chances of winning Monday that much better.

Here's another reason I think the Pistons are in trouble: They're not very happy with their coach. It's more than just Rasheed's gesture as he walked back to the bench with two fouls Saturday. Apparently a lot of the Pistons players are annoyed that Flip doesn't use the guys they brought in defend Shaq and use their fouls. Rasheed shouldn't have to be defending Shaq and picking up fouls. It's the equivalent of the Heat protecting Dwyane from foul trouble by putting Posey or Payton on some of the best offensive players. Putting Sheed on Shaq is just plain dumb. Why not use Dale Davis? I mean, Ben Wallace isn't an offensive force, but the Pistons win anyway. So use Davis for defense and the offense will still work just fine.
I mean, Flip used Hunter, Delfino and Davis for six minutes or less Saturday. That makes little sense.

Game 4, there's no way all the Heat players will play the way they did Saturday (only Gary Payton had an off night) so that means the turnovers have to come WAY down. Eighteen turnovers and 11 assists doesn't usually translate into a win. So that'll have to change if Heat wants to go up 3-1.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Bring it back

The worst part about the Heat losing to the Pistons on Thursday is that it guarantees another trip to Detroit. I'm considering buying some property up here.

-From a Heat's perspective, I think I liked Dwyane Wade calling out the Pistons for never giving any credit (we call that the Stan Van Gundy approach) and Rip Hamilton for his bump-and-run defensive style. I think the second comment will bring some more attention to to Rip's defense, which will likely help Dwyane in terms of officiating. And the first will just fire him and his teammates up a little more (on an aside, anybody else think ESPN's Scott Van Pelt has a bit of a man crush on Dwyane?... Not that there's anything wrong with that. Matter of fact, SVP is my favorite Sportscenter anchor).

-Not a big fan, however, of Shaq saying he didn't get the ball enough. I think he didn't get it enough either, particularly in the first half, but I'm not sure it's the time to come out and say so. Plus, he kind of looks bad after the second half where he got a couple offensive foul calls and missed another couple of crucial shots. But it might just get him revved up for Game 3, also.

-Thought Pat Riley's decision to play Alonzo Mourning with Shaq in the third was a bit too desperate. Zo can't cover Rasheed Wallace on the perimeter. Besides that, Zo and Sheed got into it in Game 1, so Sheed is just waiting to go off on Zo, which he did by scoring nine straight points on him. For those who think Zo and Shaq is the perfect way to defend Sheed and Ben, think again.

-Those back-to-back threes from Posey and Dwyane when the Heat was down six in the fourth quarter were both bad shots. They weren't the only bad shots in the game, but they were probably the most crucial. It's just the type of three-point shots Riley says no one should take. It's got to be inside-out. They'll probably learn from it.

-Saturday's gonna be an emotionally charged game. Should be fun.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

That boy bad

Dwyane Wade was about as good as I've seen him in Game 1. I bet if he would've played 40 minutes, he would've had at least 35, or the Pistons would've doubled him at the top and made life easier for the rest of the Heat, because Dwyane was UN-stoppable.

Dwyane decided to prove Rip Hamilton couldn't guard him. First, he always got to where he was going quickly against Rip, not letting him do that slappy defensive thing he does with his hands and get all in Dwyane's kitchen before flopping to get a call (it sounds harsh, but that's really what Rip does, and it aggravates the people he's playing against because they don't really think it's basketball). Rip might be the most fit athlete in the league, but he can't hang with Dwyane for a second when it comes to quickness or speed. So Dwyane got to his spots and did his damage before Rip could even get settled defensively.

As for Lindsey Hunter, he's the real deal defensively because he's super quick. But there are two things that can work in Dwyane's favor for the rest of the series with Hunter. First, he needs to just use the screen rather than try to get around Lindsey. It'll avoid foul trouble and get him some airspace between him and Lindsey. Second, he just needs to wait it out without picking up fouls. Because no matter how good a defender Lindsey is, he's not playing more than 15, 16 minutes in a game. There's no way Flip Saunders will play him heavy minutes ahead of Rip and Chauncey.

As good as the offense was to start this game, the defense will be the key to start Thursday's Game 2. You gotta assume the Pistons will send another defender at Wade, making the Heat offense adjust, which might take time. So that means the Heat can't let the Pistons take a big early lead. Also, you know Rasheed is going to try to get off, and he's the whole key to the Pistons offense. Tuesday the Heat sent the Pistons to the line 13 times in the first quarter alone. If they can defend, and do so without fouling, they'll have a great shot at taking Game 2, also.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Can I get a witness?

Love how people say the Heat can learn how to beat the Pistons from the Cavs. Not much of what the Heat does resembles what the Cavs so, other than some situations for LeBron that are similar to what Dwyane does. But with LeBron being four inches taller, he can see the floor so much better and has better passing angles to his big men. Dwyane can't always get the ball over bigger defenders as easily.

Other than that, the Heat has so many more options so that the Pistons can't simplay sag in the lane waiting for LeBron to get there. When Eric Snow was in the game, the Pistons didn't have anyone within 10 feet of him. If they try to sag of Dwyane like that, he'll either pull up for his newfound three-pointer or still find a way to make the defender pay. Either way, the personnel is too different to really learn much from the Cavs.

Thought Rasheed had an interesting comment about the officiating (doesn't he always). The Pistons complained the entire series about not being able to defend LeBron without getting called for a foul (for the two games I was at that series, I only saw one questionable call, by the way). Then Sheed said it won't be that way when playing against Dwyane. That's actually true, because Dwyane rarely gets that hand-check call when he's driving. But what that means to me is that Rip Hamilton and Lindsey Hunter will take more liberties against Dwyane, which can only help frustrate him. That's one thing maybe he can learn from LeBron: Just shake those guys off and make the refs call the foul. I actually wouldn't be surprised if Dwyane calls LeBron before the series to get his thoughts.

Right now I got Pistons in seven games. But it's a tenous choice. I think the Heat can take one of two in Detroit to make the series interesting from the start.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Mythical concept

I've been guilty of falling for the idea that Dwyane Wade struggles against the Pistons and the defense of Lindsey Hunter and Rip Hamilton. Maybe it's because I vividly remember his 3 of 15 game in Detroit on March 22, and his frustrations with Rip and Lindsey at times during games. But I guess I should've looked at the numbers earlier.

Dwyane's numbers against the Pistons this season in four games: 43.5 minutes, 28.0 points, .512 shooting percentage, 7.0 assists, 6.5 rebounds. Take out the 3 of 15 game, and he's averaging 33 points and shooting 57.9 points.
In fact, Dwyane has only scored more total points this season against the Cavs, Magic and Wizards.

Combine that with Shaq's 28.0 points on 58.3 percent shooting against the Pistons this season, and it's pretty clear that a series against the Pistons will come down to the supporting cast.

So, a lot of that will fall on Antoine Walker, who averaged just 6.5 points and shot 27.8 percent against the Pistons this season. But then again, I also remember Antoine not knowing where his shots were coming from in three of those games, which contributed greatly to his struggles.

Not all my fault

I've already gotten three emails, two text messages and one blog response calling me a jinx for talking about the next round as if the Cavs were a sure thing.
I couldn't possibly have been the only person, could I?

Anyway, I was in "the Q" for the game, and the atmosphere was crazy. Way different than anything the Bulls or Nets could offer. I honestly think the Heat would've had a hard time winning in that building anyway (See what I did there? I'm trying to jinx the Pistons this time... unless of course saying what I'm trying to do only reverses the jinx. Whatever).

The Cavs had soooo many ways they could have pulled that one out. I usually don't buy the whole "experience" reasoning, but the Cavs looked like they were content just watching LeBron down the stretch, while all the Pistons seemed to be doing something to pull out the win, whether it was Rasheed with the big three, Chauncey with the tough shots, Ben and Rip with the offensive rebounds or Prince with the tip-out for an offensive rebound.
Meanwhile, no one for the Cavs even attempted a shot in the last four minutes other than LeBron, not including that last desperate tip from Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

So, as it was meant to be, it looks like it'll be the Pistons and Heat in the conference finals after all (see, more reverse jinxing) and I may as well get a time share in Troy, Mich. If you see my family, tell them I said hi.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Wade's slogan

I like Dwyane's "Fall Seven Times, Stand Up Eight," Converse slogan and all, but if he and LeBron are going to match up in the Eastern Conference Finals (did I just jinx that? My bad.), then he needs something to counter the whole "We are all witnesses" thing LeBron's got going. I mean, I think those "Witness" T-shirts are pretty cool.
Any suggestions?

First of all, because he has made his name on falling down so much, every time he does fall during the game, the arena people need to play a quick "Stand up!" from the Ludacris song.

Maybe that's the T-shirt right there: A picture of that time Dwyane crossed over Eric Snow nastily (I'm confident that's a word) and Snow falling to the court. Then at the bottom, it says, "Stand Up!"

Or maybe a shot of Dwyane dunking over Jermaine O'Neal or KG, or him hitting one of his game-winners with the word "Behold" at the bottom. If you think about it, it's kind of playing off the "witness" thing, because while witness is a noun, it's also a verb, synonymous with "behold."
OK, so maybe that's a stretch. That's why I'm not in advertising.

You do better. This isn't my job, anyway.



Powered by TypePad