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9 posts from November 2006

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Supporting cast

Before these last two games, I've had people tell me a few times something to the effect of, "Now that Shaq's out we'll really see how Dwyane compares to Kobe and LeBron."
First thing I thought was, "Didn't Dwyane already do this last year?" But then I just started wondering who, right now, has the better supporting cast around him, Kobe, LeBron or Dwyane. Supporting cast includes the coach, in my opinion, because he's the one who has to devise the best possible plan for the team to win.
So right now I think it goes Kobe, Dwyane, then LeBron.

The Lakers have the best No. 2 option with Lamar Odom and have more quality depth than any of the three, with Phil Jackson obviously a quality coach. But I might be thinking too highly of guys like Luke Walton, Vladimir Radmanovic and Andrew Bynum.

The Heat has strong defensive options with Zo and Payton and Riley coaching it. Jason Williams gives the team a whole different dimension. Dorell Wright has proven to be a nice piece, not only because of his rebound and defense but he also doesn't get in anybody's way offensively. And when Antoine is playing well, he joins Posey and Kapono as guys who can score from the edges.

LeBron doesn't really have the point guard that can create tempo, unless you consider a healthy Larry Hughes that guy. And with the new offense the Cavs are running, they don't really have a post-up game to go to. They have some energy guys in Varejao and Gooden and some shooting with Damon Jones and Pavlovic. But on the whole it still seems like LeBron has to do most of the work. And their defense and coaching are kind of non-descript.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Nice moves

I like what Riley did starting Dorell and Kapono. Dorell is showing he can contribute no matter when he plays, so there's no reason to keep his energy on the bench at the start of games. And Kapono can provide some floor balance early in games to keep defenses from collapsing on Dwyane from the start.
The problem remains what to do when Wade sits for his few minutes a game. Ideally, Antoine would be the guy who holds it down for a few minutes, but the way he's playing right now it's hard to justify giving him the ball at all. I would like to think it's just some sort of slump, but Walker's confidence is about as low as it gets right now, and it seems like he's just trying to force the ball up and hope it goes in just to start feeling good about himself. He's not playing with any instincts right now. He's thinking about everything he does.
Having Jason Williams and Posey back would help settle the offense some, but it still looks like it's going to be a long regular season for Dwyane.

Friday, November 24, 2006


Not that Pat Riley has a ton of options with his lineup, but he hinted Friday morning at a lineup change, saying only "We'll see tonight," when asked about it.
He could start Dorell ahead of Antoine Walker, which could make sense if you believe Antoine will get more offensive chances if he's not starting the game alongside Dwyane. But that isn't necessarily true because Dwyane plays almost every minute of the game.
Could be Posey, but he would have to be healthy, which no one's sure is the case.
Or maybe it's no one at all and it's just Pat making threats. Should be interesting.
Also, Jason Williams is not necessarily a scratch. Even though he said he came back too early and wants to get his leg stronger and all that, Riley implied Jason will still play, but probably not on both night of back-to-backs, or for too many minutes while he's strengthening his leg. Riley's main concern is that Jason's confidence isn't hurt while he's playing at less than 100 percent.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Mo' problems

Gotta love ESPNews showing worst starts for defending champions graphics already. The Lakers were 3-7 after the 02-03 championship without Shaq and recovered nicely. But this Heat team has more problems than just missing Shaq.
J-Will's knee is hurting now, not just stiff. And that could mean more time off for him. But it also could mean this is just going to be a recurring problem for the rest of his career, a la Brian Grant, who had chronic tendinitis and every surgery in the world couldn't relieve it. I'd be willing to bet he doesn't play tonight.

Also, Antoine Walker is struggling horribly, and he dropped this one on us last night: "For me to be effective and for me to make plays, I have to have the ball in my hands a number of times."
If he had said that at any point last year, he would've gotten torched for being the wrong guy for this team. But now it might actually be helpful if he gets the ball more (assuming he does something productive with it) because it will take some of the eyes off Dwyane for a while and maybe balance things out.
'Toine plays better off Shaq, for some reason, than he does off Dwyane. I don't get it, but he'll have to figure it out if the Heat's gonna even play .500 ball until Shaq gets back.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Heat on the road

It's Game 2 of the Heat's three-game road trip Tuesday, and they're playing in a place they got torched last year. But that was with the traditional inside-out style and Shaq in the lineup. They might matchup a little better this way against this team. But someone's going to have to contain Chris Paul, because that kid's only getting better.

Don't really get Pat Riley's response to the idea of Fratello coaching here eventually. Not that I think it would ever happen as long as Jason Williams and James Posey are on this team, but it's just a bit of a surprise that Pat would react that way to a simple suggestion. It wasn't a news story, just a random thought from a writer. Oh well, at least now we know how strongly he feels about his current staff.

Don't expect Riley to sit and watch this team find its way without Shaq. Even before Shaq went down, the front office was trying to find another piece to shake things up a bit. So I'm sure they're still looking now. Don't think there's much out there, though, otherwise something would've happened by now.

Anybody else notice Jason Williams limping against the Hawks? He has become such a vital piece to this team that another in-and-out-of-the-lineup season would be pretty awful. But maybe I was just seeing things.

As for that extended comment about me speculating too much... Um, what better place to speculate than on a blog? Second, my speculation is probably a lot more informed than some random guy on the street because I talk to these guys basically every day. Maybe it's more than just speculation, actually. But whatever... I hear there are casinos near Oklahoma City where I can gamble away my aggravation.

Monday, November 13, 2006

J-Will appears

Jason Williams had what Riley called a great practice on Monday, and said he could spot him some minutes as early as Tuesday against the Nuggets.
My guess is if they leave it up to J-Will, he'll be out there in a minute. But I would think they might want to be cautious with him and give him another couple practices first. Even after that, expect Jason to come off the bench for a while until he's back in proper condition.
Riles also said he was considering a lineup change, but it was clearly just a threat. He even joked about it afterward. But he's not thrilled with Antoine right now, even if he's not saying it out loud.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Kid

All those things we said Dorell could do for this team, he's doing so far, and that's pretty impressive. The kid hasn't played real minutes in two years, and he comes in and feels comfortable enough to throw behind-the-back passes and lead the break at times. It goes to show that those two years on the bench weren't wasted sulking.
I thought the biggest sign that Riley trusts Wright was when he had Wright covering Ray Allen at times in the fourth quarter. At 6-9 with long arms and good feet, Wright can probably cover any perimeter player and do a decent job.
...It'll also be interesting to see how teams cover Posey now that he's starting to get a reputation as a clutch shooter late in games.
...Though Antoine Walker has only hit a three-pointer in one game, and has gone 0-for-14 in the other three games from distance, he has shot 16 of 25 from inside the arc (64 percent). I think that'll only encourage him to get to the rim more often, and that's what most people want to see anyway.
... And finally, the Mavericks are officially on a seven-game losing streak, dating back to last year's Finals. Just pointing it out.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

"Figure this out"

For the time being, it looks like Gary Payton will have to play 40-plus minutes a night, which will be OK as long as he gets some practice time off to balance that.
Now, Pat Riley said something after the game, though, that would suggest he would prefer some sort of roster move. He said Gary will have to suck it up until he can "figure this out." Personally, I think the system he's using now, which includes using some Dwyane at point guard while Gary sits, is a good option while they wait on Jason Williams. Unless an obvious, strong option comes available at point guard -- a guy that won't mind slipping back to third-string once J-Will returns -- then I think they should stay put for a little while. If Jeff McInnis comes available, I don't think he's that guy, because he's such a malcontent that he'll just cause problems if he's not playing later in the season.
When Dwyane's playing point guard, it's probably a good idea to keep Jason Kapono in the game because he can keep the defense spread and honest, and Antoine Walker to give the team another ball-handling option.
Good luck to Payton, though, if he has to play 40 minutes and guard Allen Iverson on Sunday afternoon.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Beat down, wake up

I think a day after watching the Heat get killed by the Bulls, it's time to gain some perspective.
Maybe the Bulls were just a bad matchup for a Heat team that basically had no time together in the preseason. We learned last season that the Bulls offer a difficult matchup for the Heat, and unless Miami is at the top of its game as far as help defense and ball movement on offense, the improved Bulls will give the Heat serious problems every time they play. The Bulls did lose to the Magic on Wednesday, so it's pretty clear they're not world beaters, just a bad matchup for the Heat. I think New Jersey is also a difficult matchup for the Heat, so it'll be another good test. You'd think Miami will be better prepared for this one.

One thing I still think should be addressed is the team's current lack of athleticism. The Bulls were running past and jumping over the Heat for much of Tuesday's game, hence the 49-29 rebounding edge for Chicago and the 21-6 advantage in fastbreak points. Now, I'm going to sound like a broken record here, but I'm gonna say it again anyway. Dorell Wright needs to play. I'm sure he has some flaws that are probably exposed in practice. But he is the most athletic player on the team, can rebound, can run the floor, can finish, can shoot and has a long enough frame that he can probably do a decent job of keeping players in front of him. In the regular season, the Heat needs an injection of energy and life, and he can provide it. I'm not saying he needs to play 30 minutes and should be an integral part of the team come April and May. I'm just saying that there's no reason not to throw him out to the fire right now and see how he responds.
Also, you're talking about a player in his third season who has yet to really been thrown a bone. Eventually, no matter how nice a kid he might be, it's gonna get old and he's going to get discouraged and have a bad attitude.

Finally, my take on the Jalen Rose situation. If he's coming here, it's for the minimum because the Heat is not going to go over the tax for this guy. And the more I think about it, I don't think he's the answer to help out at the point guard spot, even in the short term, primarily because his defensive matchup would be a nightmare. I just think he's a talent who, at the minimum, is worth signing. And if he gets in shape and can contribute some minutes, great. Of course, that could mean even a bigger challenge for Dorell Wright's search for playing time. And if he's not considered a point guard, that would probably mean Rob Hite would be the player cut to make room for him rather than Chris Quinn.



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