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6 posts from February 2007

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Just to clarify

I don't mean to say Dwyane Wade "owes" the team anything. This could have been Jason Kapono with the shoudler injury, and it would be the same story.
If he can go through rehab with no risk of further injury, then there's no reason he shouldn't. He doesn't owe his team anything (although not even Dwyane is bigger than the game or his team), but he does owe it to himself to see just how strong he could return. Because if he does return and feels good, he could lead this team right back into the Finals, and you never know how many chances he will get to do that in his career.
Worst case scenario? He goes through the rehab, still feels weak and says, "I can't do it." Then he'll have the surgery and at least have given it a try. Unless there is a doctor that tells him the delay in surgery will harm him, then it really is something of a no-brainer.
Now, that's easy for me to say because I'm not the one with a painful left shoulder and a reckless style of play that can cause it to get re-injured. But from a distance, it just seems like the right move.
(By the way, it's pretty silly to say Shaq "coasted" through the first half of the season, like someone posted on my previous entry. Shaq didn't even play in the first half. I don't think anyone "coasted." Like Riley said, they just weren't as ready as they should have been, which means they probably coasted through the offseason. And that's hard to be critical of given how long a postseason they all had. Plus the injuries were so costly that it put the team in a difficult situation. To say the record the team has is because of players taking it easy is pretty much revisionist history. If healthy, this team could have "coasted" to a winning record throughout the first half).

Defending Shaq, guessing on Wade

I know Shaquille O'Neal is never afraid to say something controversial, but this time his words were somewhat misunderstood.
The other night -- after a frustrating loss, mind you -- Shaq was asked about Dirk Nowitzki and his MVP worthiness. He said, "I don’t know. I don’t know how y’all get that award. That award’s been kinda tainted the last four or five years, so I don’t know what y'all vote for."
Now, Shaq has been saying that for a long time, not just the last couple of years. Also, he said the last "four or five years." Yet, in Phoenix, Steve Nash was told that Shaq said the award was tainted the last two years, which would have implied that Nash doesn't deserve it. Nash replied "I'm sorry he feels that way." But Shaq was hardly singling out Nash.
So there.

Now, the bigger question: Will he or won't he?
Personally, I think there's no chance that Wade chooses season-ending surgery without at least giving the six weeks of rehab a chance. How would he look if he basically says to his teammates, "I'd love to join you, but I'm gonna go ahead and call it a season." If the injury is a lot more serious than anyone is letting on, that's another story altogether. But this seems like something Wade would definitely try to fight through.
Now, all it would take is one more hard hit or bad fall before he jars that thing loose again, which would probably force him out for the season. But as Eddie Jones said, the more he played after returning from his dislocation, the stronger his shoulder felt. And Dwyane has an even stronger frame than Jones, if that helps at all.
It's tough to ask anyone to take this kind of risk, but it might be even tougher for Wade to look his teammates in the face if he doesn't.
We'll see what happens.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Now what?!?!?!??

Worst possible scenario?
This is pretty much it.
No idea if Wade's shoulder was able to be popped back into place cleanly, but if it is and there is no significant damage in there, then he can still come back for the home stretch of the season. The problem would be that his left shoulder would still be weak and prone to further injury. So given his style of play, it's doubtful he can return to his normal self.
Suddenly, the outlook is fairly bleak.

So what has to happen in the meantime?
Well, Shaq has to pretend like he's playing against Dikembe in every game. He was very aggressive and looked to have some explosiveness back against the Rockets. If he keeps that up, he'll command a double team more often and get guys open shots.
That means guys have to hit those shots to keep the offense going. Jason Kapono will get a lot more plays called for him now, so he'll have to get more creative to get shots off. That means his percentages will slip, but oh well. He has to remain a threat.
After Shaq, though, I think the most important guy to this team with Wade out is Jason Williams. The faster he can get himself back in game shape, the better for the Heat, because he can still create tempo and he can penetrate and draw the defense. Not nearly as often as Wade did, but at this point, anything will help.

Finally, the defense has to get down and dirty. The defense and Shaq have to define this team while Wade is out. That could mean ugly games, it could mean lots of fouls, but it's the best chance the Heat has to stay above .500 and get itself a playoff seed (any will do at this point, right?).

Personally, I think this team, with a healthy Jason Williams, is still a .500 team or better. And I don't think this means Riley will get desperate and make a silly move at the trade deadline because, let's face it, Dwyane Wade is not available via trade. And if Wade doesn't come back at full strength this year, a repeat title might be out of the question.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

A better idea

So Scottie Pippen wants to come back to the NBA, and he wouldn't mind playing for the Miami Heat.
With the swing positions already taken for the Heat, here are some better options for Miami.

John Stockton: Who else better to get the ball to Shaq and D-Wade? And I believe the Heat has some old short shorts for him to use somewhere in the equipment room.

Steve Kerr: Remember that shot of him laying in his bed with a back problem that kept him from calling a game on TNT? Well, he's all better now. And he can taunt Jason Kapono every time he shoots so Kapono won't break his record for three-point shooting in a season.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: He still looks like he's in shape, right? And he can teach Shaq the sky hook.

Gary Payton: Oh, wait. He's already on the Heat.

Rick Barry: Shaq hates him because he tries to get him to shoot granny-style free throws, but Barry averaged more points in a Finals than D-Wade did. Plus, if the Heat faces the Spurs in the Finals, Rick can lock-up Brent Barry just by giving him a stern look.

Bill Russell: The Celtics will probably end up drafting Russell's older brother, Greg Oden, so it'll make for a nice rivalry. And it's an easy transition when Zo retires.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Posey's place

The more I watch James Posey play, the more I question whether the Heat should be willing to part with him for a point guard (there's a popular notion around the league that Posey, with his expiring contract, is the most attractive piece the Heat has to trade) . With Posey and Eddie Jones on the floor at the same time, the Heat has probably the best perimeter defensive group that is has since Shaq has been around. And with the depth Jones, Kapono and Posey bring to the swing positions, Dwyane Wade can spend quality minutes at the point guard spot, even if Jason Williams is healthy. That way, Gary Payton's minutes can be held to a minimum, and that has always been the idea anyway.
Posey brings perimeter defense, a knack for taking charges, defensive versatility, timely offensive rebounds, steady three-point shooting, clutch three-point shooting and he runs the floor well. Not sure how many available point guards will have an effect in that many areas. Not to mention, he's a very well liked guy in the locker room and considered a great teammate.
If J-Will gets healthy and the team remains healthy for the rest of the season, I'll say it again, I think this team will be better at year's end than it was at the end of last year. And Posey's energized play is a huge part of it.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Final tweaks

Even if the Heat puts together a nice winning streak, which it has the potential to do with the Bobcats, Celtics and Cavs coming up, don't assume the team will look the same for much longer.

With Jason Williams' health an issue and Gary Payon's age (and short temper) being an issue, the team is really in need of one more point guard.

The question here is, with Dorell Wright being the only truly attractive, tradeable piece (don't think Doleac will draw enough interest, and personally don't think the team can afford to trade Posey), is it worth trading a young talent like Dorell for a rented point guard?

It would be tough to lose a player of Dorell's potential, but Pat Riley is always in win-now mode, even more so now with Shaq's age. And he might be able to justify giving up a young piece because in this year's deep draft, with the Heat likely picking in the mid-teens, it can get another young talent with potential. Plus, Riley might be doing Dorell a favor by sending him to a team that will play him without hesitation.

On the other side, there's a clear bond between Dorell and Dwyane, and the two of them three years from now could be a pretty darn formidable duo to build around.

It's a tough call. But I'm guessing the Heat is already leaning strongly in one direction (trade deadline is Feb 22).



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