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7 posts from January 2007

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Wade's no orator

Like most athletes of his caliber do on occasion, Dwyane Wade said something he might eventually regret after Monday's loss to the Knicks.
He was asked about what this team needs to wake up, and Wade said:
“I’m not a motivator. I’ve never been. Everybody is looking for me to come in and say a speech. It’s not going to happen, man. I’m just gong to go out there and play and hopefully my play speaks for itself. Guys got to look at themselves in the mirror more than anything. But I’m not a motivator. That’s not my job. My job is to prove and show my teammates what I’m going to bring to them and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Personally, I don't think that paints him in a great light. But like I said, I think he might have spoken out of frustration and doesn't fully realize the impact a few words from him could have on his teammates. I wonder what others will take from that comment.

One thing's for sure. The guys are very, very, very frustrated after these last two losses, in large part because the ball doesn't move at times, and because the defense is so erratic. If they don't put together a decent string of wins now that they have the big man back, it'll be hard to keep this group from imploding. Also, this points to Riley very likely looking to make a trade. Not sure for who just yet, although I know they remain interested in Corey Maggette.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Shaq's back

Shaq's starting tonight against the Pacers, so he must be 1,000 percent.
Should be interesting to see how much he plays, and whether or not he plays both nights of Friday-Saturday back-to-back against the Knicks and Bulls.
Also should be interesting to see if he's any less physical now that he's lighter than he was last year.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Random thoughts

... Thought it was amusing that Udonis Haslem missed his first eight shots on Sunday and all the crowd managed was some groans. But Antoine takes one bad three and had a turnover late, and he gets flat-out booed when he leaves the game. Is he really that hated? I mean, he was the starting small forward on a championship team. He has to deserve some slack, doesn't he?

... If the Bulls manage to get their hands on Pau Gasol, which has been rumored, does that make them the team to beat in the East? Personally, I don't think Gasol has the personality to handle Scott Skiles, or the defensive ability to play in that system. But he does give them exactly what they're missing, which is a scoring presence inside.

... Didn't think Nowitzki looked particularly like an MVP on Sunday. I still think Arenas and Nash are ahead of him in that race, with Dirk and Kobe next in line.

... Also thought it was funny how many times I heard people in the crowd yell "Kapono!" late in that Mavs game because they wanted him to take every shot. Shooters become crowd favorites pretty quick.

... Lastly, some perspective. As much as people would surely want Dwyane Wade to come back from this ankle injury right away, it's the second time in a couple weeks that he has turned it. The last thing you would want is Dwyane developing some long-term problem with it, a la Richard Jefferson, who just underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his ankle. As frustrating as this slow climb back to .500 has been, it's not the All-Star break just yet. And that's when things have to start coming together.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Shaq's choice

Shaq's timing on this return couldn't be much worse, if only because of the tough decision he has to make.

He can either come back after just one real practice, admittedly being less than 100 percent, or he can wait until he gets another practice or two. The problem with the second option is the Heat might not practice again until Jan. 29 because of a busy part of the schedule, which would mean he'd be out until Jan. 30 against Milwaukee.

That's why the smart bet is that Shaq comes back Thursday against the Pacers, plays 20-some minutes, then if he feels some soreness or pain, he can sit out the second game of the back-to-back in Philly. Sounds safe to me, even if he won't look great in the process.

And if anyone out there thinks the Heat is sitting on their hands as everyone else in the league is making impact trades, you shouldn't include that Warriors-Pacers trade as one of those examples. Other than maybe Sarunas Jasikevicius, there's nothing on either side of that trade that makes much sense for this team. Dunleavy is a disaster, and Murphy would only make sense if Antoine Walker weren't here.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Look familiar?

It probably shouldn't look familiar right now, actually. Because this version of the Heat is scoring way easier than last year's team. In the four straight wins, the Heat has averaged 109.3 points.
The biggest reason, I think, is Jason Kapono's shooting. He's opening up the floor for everyone else because he's absolutely deadly from out there. I mean, he's shooting 55.6 percent from three. Who does that? And his release is so quick, it doesn't matter that there might be a defender in the vicinity.
And it's because of Kapono's shooting that I think this team will probably be better at the end of the year, assuming health of course, than last year's team was at the end of the year. That's not saying they'll win a title, necessarily. That all depends on matchups. But they'll be better.

Don't know if you saw Dwyane Wade crossing both hands across his face after he hit that three at the halftime buzzer, but it was something new the team has been messing with. It's from Talladega Nights: "Now you see me, now you don't." Pretty funny.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Web(ber) log

From my freelance column on hoopsworld.com.....

...    If he gets his way, Webber will land with either the Pistons, Lakers, Heat, Spurs or Mavericks at the start of next week. He wants to win a title, which all these teams have the potential of doing. But if he wants to contribute to a championship contender, he may want to shorten his list.
    The only team on that list that would seem like a sure fit for Webber is the Lakers, who run the triangle offense that can take advantage of Webber’s passing skills as well as his ability to occasionally score in the post or with the mid-range jumper. The Lakers also have enough question marks at the power forward position that Webber can come in and claim a regular rotation spot right away.
    Even when Lamar Odom returns to his starting power forward position, which despite his fondness for the small forward spot remains his best position, there are plenty of opportunities to play behind Odom. Brian Cook and Ronny Turiaf are decent change-of-pace options that will still find some time but are hardly big-minute guys, and Vladimir Radmanovic can split time between both forward spots. Odom, too, can score some minutes at the small forward spot, and would be an intriguing frontcourt mate for Webber. And given his playoff battles with Kobe Bryant while with the Kings, Webber knows well how Bryant operates and will certainly be willing to pass the ball to Los Angeles’ biggest superstar.
    Though the drop-off is significant, the Pistons are the next best suited team for Webber. He can work from the top of the key or in the post and still make sense in Flip Saunders’ offense, which is mostly run for guards Rip Hamilton and Chauncey Billups. The problem for Webber here, however, is on the other end of the court. The Pistons still intend on beating people with their defense first, and given his lack of lateral mobility, Webber could be a liability on that end of the floor, especially with Ben Wallace no longer there to clean up any mistakes. Plus, he would likely have to spend some minutes playing out of position, with Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess and Jason Maxiell claiming dibs on the power forward spot.
    Then there’s the intrigue of Miami, which initially wouldn’t seem like a great idea. But if Heat coach and president Pat Riley is willing to deal with the repercussions of sitting Antoine Walker for good, there would be an opening at the backup power forward spot. Webber can hit the mid-range shot as well as Udonis Haslem, if not better, which means he can be the kick-out option for either Dwyane Wade or Shaquille O’Neal. And with the Heat now playing Jason Kapono heavy minutes, we’ve all seen Webber is fond of finding his quick-release shooters like Peja Stojakovic and Kyle Korver.
    The question would be whether having Webber and O’Neal on the floor at any given time would be good for a team that attempts to pride itself on defense. And, of course, how Walker would react if Webber were to take his minutes. An acquisition of Webber would seem to be a signal of another move to come....

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Can't get no worse

How bad can it get? Nothing against Ron Rothstein, but with Riley leaving, Shaq and Dwyane out and Antoine Walker and James Posey now given official reason to be bitter, the recovery from a poor start has been delayed yet again.

The question I have is, would any of this be happening if the Heat was 18-13 instead of 13-18, would any of this have happened? I think Riley's medical procedures are an unanswerable part of that question, but if the kick of the door that came after a loss didn't happen, maybe the knee surgery could have been delayed, and the hip thing would have been a matter of pain tolerance for Riley.
As for the Walker-Posey thing, I'm not so certain if the record were different that they would still be deactivated. Maybe the punishment would have been more financial and less embarassing as this. This might be as much statement than anything else.

I don't believe the team was slipping away from him. But losing has taken its toll, and Riley is trying to keep things together before they slip away.
And I wouldn't be surprised at all if he pursues trades seriously while he's out. I'm told the Mavericks are looking to move Anthony Johnson, who could be of interest.

But if this is the low point, then it's really not that bad. Consider that the Bulls were 0-9 before they made the playoffs last year. And as long as the Heat makes the playoffs and is healthy, then they still have a chance in this conference.


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