Thursday, March 26, 2009

HEAT -vs- BULLS Preview

It seems like we are always playing against the Bulls these days. Not much has changed in terms of the teams approach since the last match up, but Derrick Rose has been out for the Bulls. He should be a game time decision after hurting his wrist on a dunk attempt the other night. If Rose is out, the Heat should have an advantage in quickness. They better be quick tonight, after last nights embarrassing defeat handed to them by the lowly Indiana Pacers. I expect a much better effort from Dwayne Wade, who always plays well against the Bulls.


That was just a bad loss all around. Not only are the Heat battling to keep their playoff position, but they lose what looked to be an easy win matchup wise. No Mike Dunleavy and an early injury to Troy Murphy, should have resulted in an easy win, but the team never got it together. Dwayne Wade struggled to put the ball in the hoop, and the rest of the team did not pick up the slack. Udonis Haslem had a great game, scoring 18 points and pulling down 15 rebounds, but the rest of the team just did not come to play. Their was no answer for Danny Granger or the 2 headed point guard monster of TJ Ford and Jarret Jack. Once again Mario Chalmers got torched on defense and Luther Head provided no relief on the defensive end either. This was a game to forget.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


It is safe to say that the rest of the league is looking at Dwayne Wade as a real MVP candidate these days. In the last 2 games he has powered his team to wins over Detroit and Memphis. The Detroit game showed off his clutch defense, as he had the big block down the stretch on Rodney Stuckey and then saved the ball from going out of bounds to seal up the win. Then last night against Memphis he made the plays early and often for a blow out win. He set a new single season scoring mark for the Heat topping his previous high in the 2005-06 season. Wade's versatility is on display every night and that is the mark of a true MVP candidate.
He has propelled a team that would have been lottery team into the playoff race easily. It does not look like they are going to catch Atlanta for home court in the first round, but getting the fifth seed and playing that Hawks team is better for them than dropping to the 6th seed and having to deal with Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic. Jermaine O'Neal has a much better chance of playing Al Horford evenly than he does of competing with Howard at this point in his career. Howard is just too physically gifted to contain, and the Magic have surrounded him with a group of great outside shooters, which makes it tough to double down on him. Horford on the other hand, is flanked by a bunch of good players, but yet reached the point where he needs to be double teamed every night. Earlier this year he did put up a 20-20 game on the Heat, but he can't do that for a 7 game series, whereas Howard can.
This is where Wade's brilliance comes in. He is far and away better than anything either team has to offer, and if the frontcourt is evenly matched up, no team with a player as good as he is can be counted out. They say that in a 7 game series, that the best team will win, well what about the best player? The true testament of a great player is that he makes everyone around him better, and Wade does that. Congrats to Wade on a new scoring record, and with the playoff seeding hanging in the balance I fully expect that record to get demolished here in the last few months as he puts this Heat team on his back.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

HEAT -vs- PISTONS Preview

The Heat takes on their old playoff nemesis today, this time it is in a battle for seeding in the East. Both teams have fallen off from being the top teams in the East, but they still have some fight left in them. For the Heat they seem to be on the way back up, and for the Pistons they want to show the world that they are not done just yet. They have had an up and down season, in part due to the Chauncey Billups - Allen Iverson trade, but there are some pieces in place to still get it done. They are a team you do not want to play in the playoffs, cause their core guys can beat anyone on any given night. As for this night? I think the Heat's need to salvadge this road trip will be the inspiration to get it done. I expect Dwayne Wade to lead the way often and early, and the Heat to follow suit. If Jermaine O'Neal can get some scoring opportunities the Heat should win this game.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

CELTICS 112 HEAT 108 in OT

  • So this is what life without Dwayne Wade looks like and it started very ugly.
  • Looks like Wade will not be reaching his goal of playing in all 82 games this year.
  • The Celtics shot 68% in the first half despite missing Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen. That is just unacceptable if you are Coach Spoelstra. Stopping Paul Pierce had to be the agenda, and 12 points in the first quarter is not the way to do it. Double Team Him!
  • Once again the Heat found itself down after the 1st quarter, this time down 34-21.
  • Beasley came out aggressive to start the 2nd quarter scoring and the squad followed his lead. He needs to a consistent effort like this when Wade is not playing if the Heat is going to beat anyone.
  • He scores the majority of his points with face up jumpers, but if he is going to be a star in this league he is going to have to work on his post game this off-season. The Heat need him to be a guy that can get easy buckets on the block.
  • Luther Head continued to play strictly as a 2 guard. He is a good scorer, that will be a nice addition in the playoffs.
  • James Jones is shooting the rust off. Just in time to secure his spot in the rotation. He played decent defense too.
  • Chris Quinn had a nice first half, but there is no reason to have the guy on the court in the 4th quarter guarding Rajon Rondo.
  • Paul Pierce is too good not to double team him. With so many injuries on their squad, why does the Heat not treat Pierce like teams treat Wade and double him as soon as he touches it. Double Team Him!
  • Eddie House is joining the list of Heat killers. The only guy on the court outside of Pierce that could hit a jumper and the Heat still could not stop him.
  • This is the kind of game the Heat needed to play, a shootout without their leader Dwayne Wade to take over. Chalmers was very aggressive attacking the hoop for layups and kickouts. I like it.
  • The Miami Heat were 5-0 going into overtime, but the poise of Pierce and Rando was just too much.
  • I like Chalmers attitude, he was pushing and jawing with Rando on and out of bounds play, then hits a three in his face with the shot clock running out. Then hits an off balance 3 pointer to cut the game to 3points, yet it was just not enough.
  • A tough loss for the standings, but a moral win for a young squad trying to find themselves. If they can get an effort like that from Chalmers, Beasley, and O'Neal this team is going to make a stir in the playoffs. We know what Wade is going to give us, so if the supporting cast steps up, watch out.

HEAT -vs- CELTICS Preview

After winning 3 out of 4 games last week in memorable fashion, the Miami Heat got a much needed couple days of rest to start this week off. They are back at it tonight against the same undermanned Celtics team they beat last week by 8 points. The Celtics have struggled of late, due to their injuries, dropping 4 out of their last 5 games. Tonight they again will be missing their star inside, Kevin Garnett, but unlike last weeks game, they will have starting point guard, Rajon Rondo, back. Rondo has become the motor of their squad and is a good player for our own Mario Chalmers to model himself after. Rondo came into the league as nothing more than a pesky defender, but he has turned himself into one of the best penetrators in the league, while continuing to develop his outside shot. That matchup tonight will be very interesting to watch, cause when Chalmers plays well the Heat usually collect a win.

With Rondo back a lot of the load no longers falls on Paul Pierce and Ray Allen's shoulders, but unless they can get some help inside, the Celtics are going to have a hard time collecting a win. Leon Powe, who has been filling in for Kevin Garnett, hurt his knee the last night and is questionable for tonights game. This should allow Dwayne Wade to attack the rim without much opposition. The Heat need to get the ball early and often to Jermaine O'Neal and Michael Beasley inside, cause Kendrick Perkins and Mikki Moore are no match for them. O'Neal has scored 20 or more in his last 2 games.

The injuries to so many key players for the Celtics put them at a considerable disadvantage going into tonights game. However, any team that has Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo can't be taken lightly. Hopefully the two days of rest did Dwayne Wade good, cause we are going to need a big game out of him again if our inside guys do not play up to their potential tonight. This is the type of win a Heat team trying to lock up the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference has to win.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


He is a household name now, but most of us came to know of Dwayne Wade in the 2003 NCAA tournament when he put his Marquette team on his back and took them to the Final Four. In honor of that coming out party, here are some of Wade's best college highlights.
An Insane Shot:

Marquette's Final Four Video:

Friday, March 13, 2009


With the Heat having the night off, I thought it would be a great time to analyze the Shawn Marion for Jermaine O'Neal and Jamario Moon trade. A lot of fans have been hard on the trade, because O'Neal has not been the dominant force on the boards that they had hoped, but they are missing the big picture. Yes, if they are to succeed in the playoffs, he needs to be grabbing 8-10 boards a night instead of 6. However, this was a 2 for 1 trade and the numbers of both must be taken into account. Combined, the Heat brought in roughly 20 ppg, 10 rpg, and 3 bpg. Those are numbers that would be a dream out of one player, but hey I will take it from two guys if I have to.
Shawn Marion was not fitting into the system run in Miami, and it was obviously clear to management that the best thing to do would be to move him while still adding value to a team that is going to be in the playoffs. What did the team really lose in Marion? Defense? I would say that Moon has been just as solid as Marion was on the perimeter, but he has not been able to cover players in the post as effectively. That is where the addition of O'Neal comes in. Granted he is not on the level of the great big man in the league anymore, but no longer do we have to worry about guys like Brad Miller lighting us up. O'Neal has given the team a scoring presence inside, a much needed dynamic since they reelied too much on perimeter play. This has not fully taken form yet, as the squad still manages to forget he is on the court after the 1st quarter most of the time, but each game has been a bit better. It is the job of the coaching staff to keep O'Neal active even when he is not getting his touches, so when the 4th quarter comes around he can be that featured low post scorer that can get a few easy baskets.
Playoff basketball is played at a slower pace, and O'Neal's skills were brought in for just that. Marion was not a guy you could throw the ball to anywhere on the court and expect a bucket, unless he was wide open under the hoop. O'Neal is aplayer that can work on the block or the hight post. Since the trade Moon has really come on as a solid wing player. He has energized the squad with his wicked dunks, mostly a result of a Dwayne Wade alley oop, and he has also hit is fair share of three point shots, something Marion was not so good at.
Shawn Marion's contract runs out after the season, but the Heat were not going to use the money saved on him to add any big name players in the offseason, cause they are structuring the finances of the squad to make a push to keep Wade in 2010, while also adding another big contract. With this in mind, the deal makes great sense. Moon's contract runs out after this season and O'Neal's after next year. They have been using the 2nd half of the season to see if Moon fits in with the squad, which I would say he does. Expect management to try to sign him to a cap friendly deal, if they can find a way to move James Jones and his long term contract. O'Neal will be gone after next year, unless he is willing to take a minimum contract, so the Heat is positioned perfectly to make a play for a big named complement for D.Wade in 2010.
In order for the deal to be a smashing success, they are going to need to get production from the two players in the playoffs. Something that is going to be easier now that the roster is more balanced. No more Joel Anthony, Jamaal Magloire, or Mark Blount starting in the middle, which has to make Coach Spoelstra the happiest man in the league. Nice trade by the Heat.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


The Heat keep the streak alive against an undermanned Celtics squad. It should have been a much easier win, but in the end they got it done.
Here are the highlights:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


It is an interesting game to prepare for tonight, because Boston will be missing two starters and three key reserves against the Heat. Most notable of these absences are forward Kevin Garnett and point guard Rajon Rondo. Garnett has missed 8 straight games and Rondo is sitting for the second straight game. Newly acquired Stephon Marbury started in Rondo's place the other night and had 4 points along with 0 assists. Not the kind of production the Celtics were hoping for when they signed the mercurial star, but they are hoping that is just takes a little time for him to get into game shape and learn the teams system. While 2 major stars are missing tonight for the Celtics, they still have 2 All Stars playing great basketball, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. These 2 will have to carry the load tonight if they are to have a chance against Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat.
Wade is coming off of when of the all time great performances Monday night against the Chicago Bulls and looks to capitalize on that. He did not get much help on the offensive end the other night, except for the 2 rookies, so look for the team to try to get Jermaine O'Neal a lot of looks early. When O'Neal gets in the flow early in the game, he is usually more connected throughout the game. He was ineffective most of the night against Chicago, but did have 2 huge shot blocks in the 4th quarter. Coach Spoelstra needs to find a way to get O'Neal going, because he is a proven offensive commodity that they need to take some of the load off of Wade and Michael Beasley.
While Beasley has been a nice complement to Wade, the team still needs to find a 3rd scorer. There have been times during the season when it has looked like Mario Chalmers or Daquan Cook would be that player, but both are still too prone to mental lapses to be that guy. So the burden falls on O'Neal, and tonight's matchup with the Celtics could be just what he needed. Without Garnett, Glen Davis, or Brian Scalabrine up front, the Celtics are left with Kendrick Perkins, Leon Powe, and Mikki Moore, all of which are no match for O'Neal. Powe is the best player of the bunch, but he does not have the height to take on O'Neal for most of the game. I would expect that he is going to be matched up with Beasley and Udonis Haslem tonight. Perkins and Moore should be considered nothing more than 12 fouls at this point.
With the Celtics missing so many key players, the Heat might finally have come across a team that they can afford to rest Wade against without fear or a run by the squads second unit. Expect Spoelstra to limit his stars minutes, while trying to get guys like O'Neal, Chalmers, and Cook back into the offensive flow. With the season closing and the battle for the 4th spot in the East heating up, every win is vital. The Heat can ill afford to lose especially to a team so banged up.
Prediction: Heat by 10

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


If there was anyone who did not believe that Dwayne Wade should be in the MVP debate, then all anyone needs to show them was highlights of last nights thrilling double OT win against the Chicago Bulls.
Wade's numbers on the night: 48 points, 12 assists, 6 rebounds, 4 steals, and 3 blocks.

Monday, March 9, 2009

HEAT -vs- BULLS Preview

The Heat take on the Chicago Bulls tonight at American Airlines Arena and try to rebound from a tough loss on Saturday to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Heat overcame a 14 point first quarter deficit in that game to make it close, but the Cavs were too strong down the stretch, frustrating Wade with their physical defense. The Heat look to find a way to start the game off strong tonight, and their old rival Bulls might be the perfect team to do that against.
The Heat has beaten the Bulls twice this year, both times with strong play from their backcourt. We will get another chance to see the top pick from last years NBA draft, Derrick Rose, take on our rookie point guard, Mario Chalmers. In the matchups so far Chalmers has played Rose evenly, but Wade's outstanding play has been the real difference. Wade loves to play against his hometown squad, so this should be a fun one. Wade will be matched up tonight with offensive stud Bed Gordon and defensive annoyance Kirk Hinrich. Hinrich is a master at grabbing Wade when he is moving around screens. It often gets missed by the referees, but not by Wade, who has been injured before by Hinrich from such a move. The Bulls backcourt is tough, but no team has had an answer for Wade so far this year, so the Heat have the edge.
Both teams frontcourts have been a work in progress all season long. Both squads made a move to improve this issue at the trade deadline and are working to get acclimated with the new pieces as the season progresses. The Bulls, Luol Deng will miss this game with a leg injury, so the frontcourt scoring will fall on new arrival John Salmons. Salmons is a smooth scoring wing player, from the U, who has averaged 22.0 over his last two games. The rest of their frontcourt is manned by one dimensional players. Tyrus Thomas is developing into a good defensive player, who gets his points off of transition buckets. Joakim Noah is another guy who can not create his own offense, but can make a difference with his hustle. It will be the job of Jermaine O'Neal and Udonis Haslem to keep those guys off of the boards. The Heat need O'Neal to keep up his offensive output, but really need stronger play on the boards. He is due that breakout game, and hopefully tonight will be that night. Jamario Moon's scoring has been up and down since his arrival, but tonight's matchup with an uptempo squad should provide him opportunities to get out in transition early and get into the flow.
The Bulls best players off the bench are Hinrich and Brad Miller, so the Heat should have the edge with Daquan Cook and Michael Beasley. It would be nice to see the addition of Luther Head pay off tonight, but it is more likely that Cook and Beasley will be the only bench players making a difference. Both players have been scoring the ball well as of late, and the Bulls provide them with good matchups to keep that up. Do not underestimate Beasley's drive to outperform Rose, who was picked one spot ahead of him in the draft, and was getting all the Rookie of the Year talk during the first half of the season. A great game tonight could put Beasley back in the talk for R.O.Y. as the season comes to a close.
Dwayne Wade is just too much for the Bulls to compete with right now. Heat by 5.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

HEAT 135 SUNS 129

So this is what the Heat connecting on all cylanders looks like...and I like it. From the opening tip to the final buzzer, they played their hearts out. Chasing down loose balls, getting in the passing lanes, and hitting the offensive boards.
  • The young guys, Mario Chalmers, Daquan Cook, and Michael Beasley, really came to play last night
  • Dwayne Wade played like an MVP again last night, but is that surprising anymore? It was nice to see his patience in the halfcourt offense last night, after it was questioned in the 4th quarter collapse against Cleveland.
  • Wade's block on Grant Hill in the 4th quarter left Reggie Miller with nightmares of Tayshuan Prince again.
  • 16 assists for Wade has as much to do with him as it does with his teammates finally hitting shots. He tied his career high and now has 45 assists over the last 4 games.
  • How great is it to look at a box score and see Cook and Beasley with 27 points and 28 points respectively.
  • Cook finally broke out of his shooting slump in a major way with 6 three pointers. Maybe the addition of Luther Head inspired him?
  • Beasley had his best game of the season last night, finally putting together a complete game. 28 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 steals is a major night for the rookie. It was great to see Beasley attacking the rim and not just spotting up for jumpers.
  • The Suns really missed Amare Stoudamire, who held Beasley to 0 points in their first meeting.
  • Shawn Marion had to be envious of the alley oops that Wade was throwing last night. Jamario Moon with the dunk of the year, a la Grant Hill when he was at Duke.
  • The high scoring game does not take away the fact that the Heat gave up 129 points, but the tempo that Phoenix plays at makes it difficult to play your normal defense. Their '7 second or less' offense is just too chaotic to really prepare for. The Heat played the best they could, switching between man and zone. Good decision by Coach Spo.
All in all a great win by the Heat. So good in fact, that I did not even mention that it was the return of the Shaq.
With Dan Majerle back in the house as a coach of the Suns, it is time to rehash one of his greatest highlights:

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


I personally can not wait till March 30th when the Miami Heat retire a jersey for the first time of a player that actually played a minute of basketball for them. Alonzo Mourning's number 33 will be hung from the rafters in a home game against the Orlando Magic, and it could not come soon enough. I am a huge fan of Michael Jordan and Dan Marino, but come on couldn't we have at least hung their retired jerseys out by the food court at the arena, instead of from the rafters? Zo deserves the honor for your years of excellent on the court and in the community. So it got me thinking, for a team that has 7 division titles in its 20 years lifespan, who else might warrant a retired jersey?

What about Tim Hardaway? He is the Miami Heat's all time leader in assists and three point field goals, but did he shoot his hopes in the foot with his anti-gay comments in 2007? Glen Rice? 6 seasons does not make a retired jersey. Steve Smith? Again, not enough seasons on the Heat. Shaquille O'Neal? No chance, 2 good season does not make a retired jersey. What happens if Dwayne Wade bolts Miami in 2010 when he becomes a free agent, would you still want to retire his jersey for how excellent he has been since being drafted?



Tonight marks the eagerly anticipated return of former Heat big man, Shaquille O'Neal to American Airlines Arena. It is his first time back since he was traded last season, since he is playing his best basketball in years, it is fair to wonder if the Heat made a mistake by trading him for Shawn Marion in the first place?

When Shaq was traded, the Heat were last place and the future looked dim , while he and Dwayne Wade missed game after game with various injuries. It became obvious to the Heat front office that the leftovers from their championship run in 2005-06 were not a nucleus they could not succeed with anymore. Therefore it was a practical move at the time to trade him for Marion and Marcus Banks. Those players would not put Miami back into contention by themselves, but it was feasible that they could help Miami transition into a up-tempo squad, while also putting themselves into position to get a top draft pick.

While the Heat never quite became that high octane squad, they were able to get Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers in the draft. This marked a turning point for the franchise as they were able to get 2 foundation players in one draft. Add these 2 guys to an MVP season for Dwayne Wade, a healthy year for Udonis Haslem, and the Heat quickly jumped back into the playoff hunt. Marion provide the Heat with strong play from both forward positions, but he was not good enough to keep Beasley off the court so he became expendable. So the Heat moved him along with Marcus Banks to Toronto for oft-injured center Jermaine O'Neal.

Jermaine is not the All Star Center that he was in his Indiana days, but when he is healthy he can still get a double double and play solid defense. That is more than they Heat was getting from the center by committee they were using before. With playoffs a guarantee, barring a Dwayne Wade season ending injury, the Heat needed to get bigger upfront. So bringing in Jermaine made sense, as he is a solid complementary piece to the young core. He has been through his fair share of grueling playoff series, which is essential when you have so many core guys that have never been in a single playoff game.

As Jermaine has struggled a bit to fit in with the Heat, Shaq has played his best basketball in 3 years, so the debate is on, but if the Heat had not gotten rid of Shaq when they did, they would not have the young nucleus they have now and Wade would not be the unquestioned leader. It is interesting to note, that as well as Shaquille has played for Phoenix this season, he was still being shopped heavily at the trade deadline. I guess that hefty contract and even heftier ego can weigh heavily on a squad. In that case, Jermaine is the better fit, now if only we could find a way to get him rebounding again. Here is to hoping that headband helps him hit the boards tonight.



The Miami Heat added scoring guard, Luther Head, to their roster, taking the spot left vacated my Marcus Banks when he was traded at the deadline to Toronto in a 2 for 1 deal. Since the All Star Break, the Heats bench has been struggling to find some consistent scoring. Forward Michael Beasley has been the only threat, because Daquan Cook seemed to leave his shooting stroke in Phoenix at the 3-point contest. In hopes to fill this need the team has signed Luther Head. Head is a 6-3 guard out of Illinois who has played both guard positions in his 3 year career, but will be used primarily for the Heat at the point guard spot. The combination of Mario Chalmers and Chris Quinn has not been working out recently, so Head could get lots of minutes right away. Head is not a traditional point guard, but that is probably not needed with Dwayne Wade being the lead guard in the 4th quarter. Head can focus on what he does best which is space the floor with his outside shot, while Wade penetrates and dishes. He is a career 39% 3-point shooter, who connected on 177 3's only 2 seasons ago. He is never going to be thought of as a lock down defender, but he has the size and quickness to make much more of a mark on that end than Quinn had been. Opposing point guards eyes light up when Quinn covers them, and that has been an issue for the Heat all year. Chalmers has been great as a rookie, but as we saw the other night in the Cleveland game, he is still just a rookie, and can not be expected to be at the top of his game on a consistent basis. The Heat hope that in adding Head they can put a 2nd unit on the floor that can really fill up the hoop, with Head, Cook, James Jones, Beasley.