« March 2007 | Main | May 2007 »

6 posts from April 2007

Monday, April 30, 2007

Issues

First, a quick explanation of why this series and season, ended horribly. It all has to do with Dwyane's injury and how it exposed the Heat for what it is. When the Heat won the title last year, they needed a great, great, great, great, once-in-a-generation type of performance from Wade, who not only scored but drew the attention of every defender and made his teammates relevant.
This year, Dwyane was about 60 percent of what he was last postseason because of his shoulder, which made him look more like gunner who turned the ball over too much because his injuries didn't let him think straight as he's penetrating, didn't allow him to be explosive, didn't allow him to make his teammates better.
What that also does, though, is remind you that, unless Dwyane is going to be as good as he was in last year's playoffs every postseason, then Pat Riley needs to find ways to diversify the offense. Not just Shaq inside, not just Dwyane outside. That would require a couple more ball-handlers/creators. And it would also require allowing Antoine to do a bit more ........ I'm going to give you a few seconds to soak that in, because I know it's hard to accept........
OK, that said, there are other issues the Heat has to address before next season.

--If Jason Williams doesn't get traded (and I only say that because he's entering the last year of his deal and some team might want to take him to clear space for the following year), then the Heat still needs one more starting quality point guard. Not only will that give the Heat two options at starter, but it will allow for Williams, who has been playing injured for two years, not to have to play through these injuries and get worse.

--To help diverisfy that offense, the Heat needs at least one wing player who handles the ball better and creates off the dribble. Posey did that a few times this year, but he's not exactly what you would call a creator off the dribble. Plus, after the way he was treated this year (getting deactivated for supposedly having too much body fat and then Riley saying him staying out until 4 a.m. was "unprofessional"), I wouldn't expect Posey to want to re-sign here.

--To make up for Shaq's declining rebounding numbers, some more athleticism up front would help. If Alonzo retires, they need a pogo stick type -- something as close to Nene that they can get. They could use that even if Zo does stick around, which I think he should.

--If Jason Kapono ends up somewhere else (kid's got to get paid after four years in the league and coming off his best season), they need another capable shooter. If they can find that creator and shooter in the same guy, that's a bonus.

I would say that's about it. I also don't think they should have to find a new coach. When it's said and done, Riley's going to have a hard time putting Shaq in the hands of some young coach. And finding a coach that's experienced and available and respected and willing to coach here isn't exactly easy, nor is it what Riley said he would do when he steps down. Unless Riles leaves the organization altogether, I think he'll eventually talk himself into giving it another go on the sideline, especially if he has a tweaked team that intrigues him. Also, it will help his cause that the team didn't win a title this year. They'll be hungry again, and that goes a looooong way with this group of guys, as cliche as it sounds.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Messages

A few messages I would leave if I had any of these people’s primary cell phone numbers (meaning, the ones they actually answer).

Message to Dwyane Wade:

Take off the sleeve. It’s a target. It’s a mental block. It probably isn’t necessary to keep your shoulder warm because it looks like you’re going to be playing 40-plus minutes a night anyway. It’s not going to keep you from getting injured again. But it will keep you from forgetting, even momentarily, that your shoulder is vulnerable. And until you are able to do that, you probably won’t be able to play the way you want to.

Plus, it’ll probably freak the Bulls out if you come out without it.

Message to Pat Riley:

Your team is being out-jumped and outrun because it’s not as athletic as the Bulls. That explains all the tip-outs and offensive rebounds and fastbreak points. Know who on your team has the best rebounding performance against the Bulls this season? Here’s a hint: He’s 21 years old.

I know, I know, Dorell’s going to turn the ball over, and that’s going to stick in your craw (whatever that means) more than if anyone else turns the ball over. But if you tell Dorell he can’t turn the ball over, he might not. And if you tell Dorell to rebound and run the floor and use his length to contest a shot or two or 12, he DEFINITELY will. Sounds like a decent trade-off to me. Whose minutes should he take? You can figure it out.

Message to Shaquille O’Neal:

Play faster but don’t rush. You’re killing the shot clock while you wait for traffic to clear. Then you’re missing too many easy shots by rushing after you make your move. Whether or not that has to do with Ben Wallace, who knows, but I don’t think I’ve seen you look over your shoulder in a game as many times as you did Tuesday. Oh, and post up on the other block a few more times. It frees up your right hand on the baseline spin move.

Message to Scott Skiles:

Taking out your players one at a time late in Game 2 was a bit much. It wasn’t Senior Day. Plus, it doesn’t help deadline.

Message to mom:

Hi mom (she actually doesn’t have a cell phone. Also, I’m 100 percent sure she doesn’t know what a blog is or where she could find one).

End of new messages.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Down, not out

Probably the best thing that happened to the Heat on Saturday night was Dwyane Wade scoring on those isolation plays late in the game that almost brought the team back.
Not only did that give him confidence coming into the next game after what had been a relatively crappy game for him, but it also probably opened up Riley's eyes to the idea that he can just isolate Dwyane and force good things to happen that way.
He can still get by his defender, and without the screener to muddle things up, Dwyane is in good position to either score on his own or break down the Bulls defense and find an open guy.
Dwyane will definitely be asking for more situations like that, because he was already complaining to Riles after he called a play in which Udonis Haslem came up to set a screen and it resulted in a turnover and a Deng three-point play.

Also, it kind of hit me as I was watching Eddie Jones try to explain something to his teammates at one point after a they allowed a score: Why not start James Posey?
I know the idea is to put Eddie on Ben Gordon and all that, but Gordon almost had a triple double, and any good defense on him is probably going to take a team effort. With Posey in there, he can be more physical with Deng, maybe throw him off his game, and he'll definitely mix it up by taking charges when other guys drive.
But the main reason is this: Posey was there last year. He knows how to win with these guys, and they know him. When he hit his first three that he took of the game, he just looked like he should have been out there the whole time.
There was one play where Dwyane got an offensive foul after he chose not to pass it out to an open Eddie, who was struggling from the field. He would never have passed up an open Posey.
Not doggin' Eddie, just saying Posey would seem like a good fit to start.
On to Game 2...

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Early test

So the Heat's playing the Bulls in the first round instead of the conference finals, which basically means the team is going through the postseason in reverse. The Heat's getting the toughest test first, a Bulls team that plays Miami tough, has the homecourt edge to boot and is getting the Heat before it gets into any sort of playoff rhythm. Plus, Dwyane hasn't yet felt the brunt of playoff force on his bum shoulder.

If the Heat can get past the Bulls despite all those challenges, the Pistons would likely await, and that would look to actually be an easier series. Not many agree with me, but I believe the Pistons are a bit fraudulent despite having the best record in the conference. I don't think they're built for the playoffs.

After that (and, yes, I know I'm WAY jumping the gun here, but there are no restrictions on this blog), it would be either the Cavs or Raptors or Nets waiting for Miami in the conference finals. And let's face it, would be like taking an open-book quiz after taking your LSATs.

Early predictions for the Heat-Bulls: Andres Nocioni will flop 18 times in the first two games of the series. James Posey will "accidentally" body check Ben Gordon into the scorer's table (then again into the first row of seats). Dwyane Wade will keep his wrist as far away from Kirk Hinrich as possible when going through screens. Alonzo Mourning will block Tyrus Thomas three times. Tyrus Thomas will dunk on Alonzo Mourning twice. Mourning will accidentally pass the ball to P.J. Brown five times. Scott Skiles will threaten to throw down with Antoine Walker "Joey Crawford style." The Heat will win the series in six games.

Monday, April 09, 2007

new challenges

First thing's first, Dwyane Wade looked pretty good last night. He obviously is avoiding contact on that left shoulder on things like screens when he's on defense, which is smart because even though it might feel strong, there's no reason in jarring it if you don't have to.
But on offense, even in just his first game back, he was doing spin moves, which was encouraging because that's something of a blind move where you can't anticipate contact. That shows he has some confidence in the shoulder. He also took a couple of hits/falls, after which he glanced at his shoulder but was OK.
Offensively, his jumper still looks off, as does his free throws. That probably has nothing to do with his shoulder and is just a matter of getting his legs back and getting back into a rhythm.
It should all have been a very encouaging sign for Heat fans, especially because he has five more games, presumably, to work things out before the playoffs.

Now, to this other "challenge" that just came up Monday morning. James Posey getting arrested for a DUI is clearly a distraction, it makes Posey look bad and it probably aggravates the hell out of Pat Riley, who already dealt with one of these issues this year with Rob Hite.
But what should it matter in the long run to the Heat? Not a whole lot. Drunk driving arrests happen fairly regularly in pro sports, and in most situations, they don't tend to linger.
Consider Kings coach Eric Musselman and Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, both of whom were arrested for DUI before their respective seasons began. Neither situations has been an issue for either team since.
Now, this might have a slight effect on Riley's decision whether or not to re-sign Posey, a free agent after this season, but dollars will still likely be the deciding factor there.
As for whether this is any kind of sign that the Heat won't repeat this season, it's nonsense. Riley won't cut Posey the way he basically did Hite, a rookie who would've been on his way out anyway once the Heat signed Eddie Jones. Posey will eventually make some apologetic statement, and the team will move on from there.

Oh, and Shaq won't be around for Tuesday's game in Charlotte because of the death of his paternal grandfather. And his status for Wednesday's game against the Wizards is unclear.
That will be an actual challenge, and could mean the Heat is locked into that No. 4 seed to play either the Cavs or Bulls in the first round without homecourt advantage.
The Heat is two games back of the Raptors for the No. 3 spot with five games to go.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Wade plan

I find it a little weird that Dwyane wants to practice starting tomorrow but not come back and play until the last game or two of the season.
The reason is, he'll be practicing with the team, so he'll clearly want to get involved with everything they're doing. But then the team will go out on the floor in meaningful games without him. So what's the benefit to everyone else that he's practicing?
Also, if he comes back in just the last two games, that gives the team very little time to adjust to playing with him again, because practice is no substitute for games.

I understand him not wanthing to come back until he's full strength and that he doesn't want to risk reinjuring himself in a regular season game. But it would seem like four or five games might not be the worst thing in the world. He could get in three full practices and a few more days of individual work and still get back in time for the final five games of the season.

But, hey, having him back at all is better than the other option. It just seems weird, that's all.


Categories


Archives


Powered by TypePad