Posted on: June 12, 2011 10:14 pm
Edited on: June 12, 2011 10:18 pm
MIAMI -- Guess what folks? If there is a Game 7 in the NBA Finals, the league office will have a very difficult interpretation to make regarding players who left the bench during a second-quarter skirmish in Game 6.
After a timeout had already been called, the Heat's Udonis Hasmel and the Mavericks' DeShawn Stevenson got into a shoving match after Eddie House had hit a 3-pointer to give Miami a 42-40 lead with 6:25 left in the quarter. Several players on both teams had already begun walking onto the floor for the timeout when the altercation broke out.
Miami's Mario Chalmers, who was in the game at the time, rushed in to confront Stevenson and escalated the altercation. All three players received technical fouls.
But here's where it gets interesting: What happens to the players who were not in the game, who had started walking onto the floor for the timeout, and who got involved in the fracas? Players such as, for example, LeBron James?
A league official said Sunday night that no such players will be automatically suspended for leaving the bench during an altercation, but, "We need to review the circumstances of this particular incident, which we will do, after the game."
From page 43, Section VII, subsection (a) of the NBA rulebook:
During an altercation, all players not participating in the game must remain in the immediate vicinity of their bench. Violators will be suspended, without pay, for a minimum of one game and fined up to $50,000. The suspensions will commence prior to the start of their next game.
The rules do not differentiate among bench players entering the court during a live-ball altercation and those who'd already left the vicinity of the bench for other reasons -- such as the end of a quarter or timeout. The spirit of the rules would seem to give the players who already were on the floor when the skirmish broke out the benefit of the doubt, but if the Heat extended the series to a seventh game, the league office would have a pretty important call to make.
Posted on: May 16, 2011 6:31 pm
Edited on: May 16, 2011 9:44 pm
CHICAGO – The Heat convened for practice Monday on the University of Illinois-Chicago campus with a big problem on their hands. That problem was named Derrick Rose, who was hunkered down with coach and film junky Tom Thibodeau at the Bulls’ practice facility 45 miles away.
By the time I arrived at the Berto Center in Deerfield, Ill., Rose was seated in the corner of the practice floor next to Thibodeau, deeply entrenched in another video session. They watched, they gestured, they scratched their chins as they dissected everything the Bulls did wrong in Game 1.
To the outside observer, that wasn’t much. Chicago has a 1-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals because Rose played a nearly perfect second half, and because the defensive attention he commanded allowed the Bulls to dominate the offensive boards in a 103-82 victory Sunday night. The team with the problems, and with the adjustments to make in Game 2, is Miami.
“They’ll do different things, put different players on him, adjust coverages,” Thibodeau said. “We’ve got to be ready to handle that.”
Although Rose had only two shot attempts within five feet of the basket in Game 1, the defensive attention he attracted left the Heat vulnerable on the boards. The Bulls used this advantage to corral 19 offensive rebounds, which they converted into 31 points. That was the difference in the game, delivered mostly by Rose and the way he forced the Heat to play him.
“Any way you can get an offensive rebound, they got them,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, downplaying Rose’s impact on the Bulls’ huge night on the glass. “It wasn’t necessarily about Rose’s penetration.”
But the Heat’s disadvantage is more pronounced when they play with a true point guard on the floor: starter Mike Bibby or backup Mario Chalmers. This has been Spoelstra’s overwhelming preference, as nine of his 10 most-used lineups during the regular season featured a point guard, according to 82games.com. (If you count Eddie House as a point guard, it’s 19 of Miami’s 20 most-used lineups.)
With Rose being the single most important player for the Heat to contain, Spoelstra is in a quandary as he considers making what would be the most significant tactical adjustment of the series: going for longer stretches without Bibby or Chalmers on the floor. This bigger lineup would feature LeBron James initiating the offense and guarding Rose on the defensive end, which would limit the amount of traps and double teams the Heat have to deploy. Dwyane Wade would be at the other wing, with floor-spacer James Jones at small forward and Joel Anthony and Chris Bosh up front.
Spoelstra only used this configuration for 40 minutes this season, counting regular season and playoffs – and 30 of those minutes have come during the postseason, according to adjusted plus-minus guru Wayne Winston. It’s impractical for Spoelstra to play the majority of the game that way, but in proper doses and in the right situations, this bigger lineup with James at the point (or Wade, for that matter) would solve three of the biggest problems that imperiled Miami in Game 1.
First, a bigger, stronger defender would be able to limit Rose’s penetration and bother his jump shot without overloading the floor with help. Staying at home defensively would give Miami a better chance to keep the Bulls from dominating the offensive boards, and a better defensive rebounding performance would ignite the Heat’s transition game – or, at the very least, get them into their offensive sets faster, before Chicago’s disciplined defense has a chance to get set.
Aside from how long Spoelstra is willing to play with Jones instead of James guarding Luol Deng, the key factor in deploying this strategy is James’ willingness to give up scoring opportunities while being more of a facilitator on the offensive end and also embracing the challenge of guarding Rose.
“It doesn’t matter,” James said Monday. “I’ve guarded all five positions throughout this regular season and postseason. Whatever it takes for us to win. If it means guarding Rose from the start and playing more point guard, I’m up to the task.”
One Eastern Conference coach familiar with both teams agreed that playing James at the point with Jones at small forward is “feasible,” but added, “Not full time.” One problem is Jones’ defensive matchup against Deng, who scored 21 points including 4-for-6 shooting beyond the 3-point arc Sunday night with James guarding him. The other issue is whether James has enough quickness to check Rose, and how he would handle defending pick-and-roll situations.
To that extent, Wade could defend Rose some of the time, with James on Keith Bogans or Ronnie Brewer. And whatever problems this presented defensively, the Heat would more than make up for it by putting tremendous perimeter pressure on the Bulls’ defense. With James and Wade penetrating from either wing, they’d have options: kicking out to each other, to Bosh on a pick-and-pop, or to Jones for an open 3-pointer. This way, Miami would steal Chicago’s offensive momentum and force the Bulls to come up with something to counter it.
In 30 minutes of floor time during the playoffs, the lineup of James, Wade, Jones, Bosh and Anthony has performed 20 points better than average, when adjusted for the strength of the opponent, according to Winston. That’s only slightly better than the plus-19 rating for 73 minutes with Bibby instead of Jones. When Chalmers plays with those players instead of Bibby or Jones, the Heat have played 30 points better than average during a 75-minute stretch.
The first step in Spoelstra’s tactical adjustment will be to play Chalmers more than Bibby when he goes with a true point guard on the floor. With Chalmers on the floor during the playoffs, the Heat have played 12 points better than average and only three points better than average with Bibby.
If that doesn’t work, look for Spoelstra to step up his experimenting with a bigger lineup featuring James and Wade as co-facilitators on offense and co-Rose-stoppers on D. As I've said before, the Heat should’ve played without a true point guard more often during the regular season – a look that would’ve made better use of their transition and off-the-dribble skills – so it wouldn’t be such a significant adjustment now.
But like LeBron said: Whatever it takes. And it might just take an unorthodox approach to beat a team like the Bulls, and to stop a disruptive force like Rose.
Posted on: September 22, 2010 2:28 pm
You may have heard that the Miami Heat are a bit of a big deal. They ran the table during free agency in July, executing the ingenious plan hatched by mastermind Pat Riley without flaw. Riley even assembled a quality, veteran supporting cast in the blink of an eye, surrounding Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh with shooters, defensive toughness and quality support players. Free-agent center Erick Dampier could be next. Was it enough? Will the Super Team execute as well in June as Riley executed in July? It's time for the Miami Heat preseason primer -- which has all the questions, some of the answers, and none of the fanfare that went along with LeBron's "Decision."
Training camp site: Dark Side of the Moon. (Just kidding. It’s actually on less accessible property: Hurlburt Field at Eglin Air Force Base near Ft. Walton Beach, Fla.
Training camp starts: Sept. 28
Key additions: Smush Parker (fantasy signing), Jason Williams (none of your business), and three of Michael Beasley’s better-adjusted cousins. This is a joke, of course. You know who the key additions are. Besides them, the most important ones are Mike Miller (free agent), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (free agent), Eddie House (free agent) and, um, Juwan Howard (free agent).
Key subtractions: Quentin Richardson (free agent), Jermaine O’Neal (free agent), Beasley (trade), Daequan Cook (trade).
Likely starting lineup: Wade, G; Mike Miller, G; James, SF; Bosh, PF; Joel Anthony, C. (Or maybe Dampier.)
Player to watch: Aside from the circus atmosphere starting Sept. 27 with media day on the University of Miami campus, the most interesting X’s and O’s to examine will be Erik Spoelstra’s use of Wade and LeBron as interchangeable point guards. I expect a token go at it with Carlos Arroyo and/or Mario Chalmers at point, but ultimately Spoelstra’s best lineup will be using Wade and LeBron as interchangeable wings with either one able to initiate the offense.
Chemistry check: There won’t be many clues in the cloistered environment of training camp as to how Wade and LeBron are going to work out their all-important pecking order. But the seeds will be planted for how they divvy up the pressure, credit and blame months from now.
Circus act: The fact that the Heat have chosen a secluded Air Force base for training camp, making it temporarily inconvenient for media to besiege them, is no surprise. Even when the Heat were a .500 team and no lock to get out of the first round, they were one of the most challenging teams in the league to cover. Under Riley, they like their space and they love to control the message. The creation of this super team – as star-studded a locker room as has existed in the modern NBA – will be a daily challenge. Everywhere they go, they’ll receive the rock-star treatment. It’s legitimate to wonder if the attention, and the pressure of converting the coup of July into a championship in June, will have a cumulative effect.
On the spot: The sharing of the ball, the big shots, and the blame if things go wrong will be fascinating to watch as Wade and LeBron navigate their co-superstardom together. But at some point, someone outside the realm of the dynamic duo will have to make a big shot, a defensive stop, or a smart play at the end of a close playoff game with elimination on the line. At that moment, the spotlight will perhaps shift to Bosh, who clearly wasn’t up to that task in Toronto, or Miller, who may have to deliver a corner 3-pointer with a hand in his face at the buzzer of a Game 7.
Camp battles: Chalmers vs. Arroyo for backup point guard. Anthony, Jamaal Magloire and perhaps Dampier for starting center. Pat Riley and Magic coach Stan Van Gundy for best preseason insult.
Biggest strength: In Wade and LeBron, Miami has two players who, individually, are nearly impossible to guard. Putting both of them on the floor at the same time will be enough to make even Tom Thibodeau’s head explode. For 82 nights, and then the playoffs, the challenge for the rest of the league will be: How do you guard them? Which poison do you pick?
Glaring weakness: Size and interior presence. An asterisk goes here based on the likely addition of Dampier, who would give Miami the kind of size and length they are currently lacking with the combination of Anthony, Magloire and Howard at center.
Posted on: December 16, 2008 10:52 am
* In a sign that his sense of self importance knows no boundaries, Stephon Marbury is planning to attend Tuesday night's Knicks-Lakers game at Staples Center. How, you ask? Hasn't he been banished from the team? Why yes, loyal BergerSphere reader, he has. But that $22 million he's getting paid is good for something, like buying a courtside ticket. This is strange, and sad. Where does strangeness and sadness end and stalking begin? The Knicks could become the first team in NBA history to take out a restraining order against one of their players.
* Strange but true: All six coaches fired this season share the same agent, Lonnie Cooper. If I were Jim O'Brien, also a Cooper client, I'd be sweating profusely. Just for grins, guess which infamous basketball figure also is/was represented by Cooper? You got it, Isiah Thomas. A proposed position paper for any and all aspring sports agents out there: Did Isiah Thomas ruin Lonnie Cooper's career? Discuss.
* Dime starts a good debate about which NBA team has the best local TV announcers. If you live in the NYC area, gotta love Mike Breen and Clyde Frazier, as long as you are experienced at reading between the lines of their Cablevision-filtered commentary. I have to admit, Clyde's fluidity, his shakin' 'n bakin' 'n percolatin' have grown on me. If you're a Lakers fan, you can't do better than Joel Myers on play-by-play. I would add a wrinkle to Dime's unofficial poll: Which team has the worst local TV announcers?
* Empty The Bench names six double-double machines who aren't household names.
* Mark Jackson struck out in his bid to become the Knicks' coach this past summer. But with at least six teams in the market for a new coach next summer, Jax's chances of landing a job are off the charts. I'd quibble with his approach in this one respect: Maybe he would've been better served to pursue an assistant's job so that he could parlay that experience into his pursuit of a head coaching job in '09.
* When TrueHoop pointed out an ad for a "Derrick Coleman Estate Sale," it was only natural to wonder if DC had squandered the more than $90 million he earned in his NBA career and needed to sell stuff to raise money. Not so, Coleman insists.
* My favorite stat lines from Monday night's games were in the losing teams' box scores: Miami's Mario Chalmers had 20 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds in a 98-83 loss to the Bucks, and Paul Millsap had 32 points and 10 rebounds in a 100-91 loss to the Celtics.
* Breakin' Down The Game takes you around the NBA link-o-sphere, including an item on Bonzi Wells signing with a team in China for $40K? How could that be?