Tag:Heat
Posted on: November 14, 2010 7:35 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2010 8:46 pm
 

10 games in, Heat struggle with identity

Ten games into the Era of the Triad for the Miami Heat, big questions have arisen, even as they show flashes of brilliance.
Posted by Matt Moore






The Heat has played 480 minutes of basketball under the Triad's new era of alleged greatness. And so far? The results have been less than incredible. Miami isn't a bad team. That's important to state right off the bat. It's nearly impossible to be a bad team with the kind of talent they've assembled. But if we're looking at them honestly, game by game, there are significant weaknesses on a team that some thought would compete for 72-10. And they go way further than just "they're getting used to each other."

But to ignore the good is to fall into a very easy trap these days: overreacting to the weaknesses of a team that still has a winning record and has been within range in each of its losses of pulling it out. It's based on an emotional reaction by some to the grandiose approach the Heat gave to announcing their new superteam, most notably Lebron's little television fiasco and the whole "rising from the floor like you're some sort of wrestling superstar" bit. For others? They're simply cashing in on the easy pageviews trashing the Heat garners.

So what have we learned, ten games in? That in terms of X's and O's, this team is superb inside the rotation and weak out (as in great 2-3-4, and weak out, 1 and 5), and mentally they're superb out and weak in.

The Flames On The Floor


Watching the Heat, it's not as if you're left with nothing positive. There's a ton that you look at with this squad and marvel at. Particularly, the fast break with these kinds of athletes. There have been several times in the Heat's first ten games where LeBron James or Dwyane Wade would slip out on the break off the outlet pass, forcing the defense to overreact in abject panic as they sprinted up the floor. As the defense turned concave to guard them from getting in the paint, they gave up the backdoor to the other one sprinting, only realizing what was happening as the alley-oop sailed over their heads. Furthermore, there is not a single team in the league that possesses their kinds of players in isolation. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, man-up? Impossible to guard.

Those elements are why offensively, Synergy Sports has them pegged with shooting 62% in transition, in the top 10 teams in the league in that category, and 42% in isolation, which is in the top half of the league. The latter will almost undoubtedly rise as the season continues and 20% of their games aren't taken up by playing the best isolation defense team in the league in Boston, who constantly sends help.

Then there are the spot-ups. The Heat is the fourth best team in points per possession in spot-ups. You can probably figure out why. With LeBron James and Dwyane Wade driving and kicking to the perimeter, the defense is forced to collapse, and the Heat shooters find themselves wide open. This strategy is brilliant against teams that can't close out and don't have sound defensive principles. But against the good teams in the league, like the four teams the Heat have lost to? It's not working out so well. In wins, the Heat is shooting 45% from the arc. In losses? 31%. That's a huge difference in their games. But this element is greatly impacted by the absence of Mike Miller. Miller will have to be a better shooter than James Jones and Eddie House have been, particularly in the big games. If he's not, James and Wade will have to start taking more shots instead of jump-passing on so many plays that are contested.

But that's an element that's not clearly a disaster. What is a disaster? Their point guard play and interior defense.

Carlos Arroyo is not getting it done. Period. Arroyo is shooting fine, at 49%. His turnover ratio is low, losing the ball on less than 10% of all possessions. But he's averaging 3.3 assists per 40 minutes, 1.8 per game. The only point guard playing 20 minutes a game who's been worse at creating or teammates is... Eddie House. The idea coming into camp and that Erik Spoelstra has turned to is to let LeBron James play point guard. Which seems like a terrific idea, him being the best player in basketball.

But James too often is simply trying to bowl over opponents. Against teams like the Celtics who have the book on him, he's forced either into jump passes that go wild, off-balance leaning layups that carom off front-rim, or charges. He's not creating masterful plays like Magic Johnson. He's just running towards the rim, jumping and then throwing it in a general direction. Playing point means managing the offense, not simply lighting a fuse and hoping the charges blow.

Mario Chalmers is not the answer, that's pretty clear. But it's hard to argue that having a younger, more aggressive point guard would really be a worse option at this point. At least Chalmers will be able to give a full effort versus Arroyo, who seems largely overwhelmed by the task at hand.

Speaking of overwhelmed , how about Chris Bosh? When Bosh was taking calls from teams this summer, there were rumors that he was adamant about not playing center. Those talks simmered after he signed with the Heat, because obviously, he was expected to be the top big man on the team. The problem? This is no longer a big man's league, and even acceptable centers are hard to find. Meanwhile, Bosh looks lost on both sides of the floor. For some reason the Heat isn't using him in pick and roll situations, despite him being perfect for pick and pop scenarios. He's not rebounding, not attacking, and unable to fight like you need your primary big to .

This is nothing new; we knew this about Bosh coming in . But the team is trying to get him to be someone he's not , and in the interim, have no one to take the reins. For whatever reason, the subject of Erik Spoelstra's blame in the Heat's center problems has fallen on Joel Anthony. This despite being no worse than Zydrunas Ilgauskas and more capable of getting up and down the floor. Zydrunas Ilgauskas is a pick and pop shooter. That's what he does. And he can do it against teams like the Raptors who don't close out. He cannot do it against teams like the Celtics who do, even with Shaquille O'Neal on the floor.

In wins, the Heat actually does pretty well inside. It's only against teams which challenge them that they struggle. Kevin Garnett, Paul Millsap, Emeka Okafor. These players are getting what they want and it's simply been too easy. Either Joel Anthony or Chris Bosh will have to step up, or the Heat is going to have to find another option at Center.

The Spark

The biggest problem with the Heat, however, has less to do with their ball movement and such. Their defensive numbers have been good, but fallen off against good competition. The problem has been mental. They have lacked the aggression of a team that seeks to go out and dominate. Instead, they seem meek, confused at most times, and uncertain. Their ball movement is tentative, and their offense most times seems most like a group of players trying to convince themselves to make something work they're not really sure of. That will surely improve as they learn the offense more fully. But in the interim, they need fire.

The Celtics smacked the Heat in the face. Twice. Without a home court advantage to speak of , this team of promise is going to have to look inside, to all that anger they talked so much about in regards to the haters. They have to play with passion, with desire, and most importantly, with urgency. When the Hornets came out and blitzed them, they simply went through the motions. When the Jazz stormed back on them, they acted shell-shocked. And when the Celtics blasted them from start to finish, they made their close to finish the game, but lacked the intensity to prevent the gap from being insurmountable, and the drive to finish the job. If the Heat wants to become the team they assembled to be, the team they were promoted to be, the answer is simple. They are going to have to want it more.


Posted on: November 14, 2010 7:35 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2010 8:46 pm
 

10 games in, Heat struggle with identity

Ten games into the Era of the Triad for the Miami Heat, big questions have arisen, even as they show flashes of brilliance.
Posted by Matt Moore






The Heat has played 480 minutes of basketball under the Triad's new era of alleged greatness. And so far? The results have been less than incredible. Miami isn't a bad team. That's important to state right off the bat. It's nearly impossible to be a bad team with the kind of talent they've assembled. But if we're looking at them honestly, game by game, there are significant weaknesses on a team that some thought would compete for 72-10. And they go way further than just "they're getting used to each other."

But to ignore the good is to fall into a very easy trap these days: overreacting to the weaknesses of a team that still has a winning record and has been within range in each of its losses of pulling it out. It's based on an emotional reaction by some to the grandiose approach the Heat gave to announcing their new superteam, most notably Lebron's little television fiasco and the whole "rising from the floor like you're some sort of wrestling superstar" bit. For others? They're simply cashing in on the easy pageviews trashing the Heat garners.

So what have we learned, ten games in? That in terms of X's and O's, this team is superb inside the rotation and weak out (as in great 2-3-4, and weak out, 1 and 5), and mentally they're superb out and weak in.

The Flames On The Floor


Watching the Heat, it's not as if you're left with nothing positive. There's a ton that you look at with this squad and marvel at. Particularly, the fast break with these kinds of athletes. There have been several times in the Heat's first ten games where LeBron James or Dwyane Wade would slip out on the break off the outlet pass, forcing the defense to overreact in abject panic as they sprinted up the floor. As the defense turned concave to guard them from getting in the paint, they gave up the backdoor to the other one sprinting, only realizing what was happening as the alley-oop sailed over their heads. Furthermore, there is not a single team in the league that possesses their kinds of players in isolation. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, man-up? Impossible to guard.

Those elements are why offensively, Synergy Sports has them pegged with shooting 62% in transition, in the top 10 teams in the league in that category, and 42% in isolation, which is in the top half of the league. The latter will almost undoubtedly rise as the season continues and 20% of their games aren't taken up by playing the best isolation defense team in the league in Boston, who constantly sends help.

Then there are the spot-ups. The Heat is the fourth best team in points per possession in spot-ups. You can probably figure out why. With LeBron James and Dwyane Wade driving and kicking to the perimeter, the defense is forced to collapse, and the Heat shooters find themselves wide open. This strategy is brilliant against teams that can't close out and don't have sound defensive principles. But against the good teams in the league, like the four teams the Heat have lost to? It's not working out so well. In wins, the Heat is shooting 45% from the arc. In losses? 31%. That's a huge difference in their games. But this element is greatly impacted by the absence of Mike Miller. Miller will have to be a better shooter than James Jones and Eddie House have been, particularly in the big games. If he's not, James and Wade will have to start taking more shots instead of jump-passing on so many plays that are contested.

But that's an element that's not clearly a disaster. What is a disaster? Their point guard play and interior defense.

Carlos Arroyo is not getting it done. Period. Arroyo is shooting fine, at 49%. His turnover ratio is low, losing the ball on less than 10% of all possessions. But he's averaging 3.3 assists per 40 minutes, 1.8 per game. The only point guard playing 20 minutes a game who's been worse at creating or teammates is... Eddie House. The idea coming into camp and that Erik Spoelstra has turned to is to let LeBron James play point guard. Which seems like a terrific idea, him being the best player in basketball.

But James too often is simply trying to bowl over opponents. Against teams like the Celtics who have the book on him, he's forced either into jump passes that go wild, off-balance leaning layups that carom off front-rim, or charges. He's not creating masterful plays like Magic Johnson. He's just running towards the rim, jumping and then throwing it in a general direction. Playing point means managing the offense, not simply lighting a fuse and hoping the charges blow.

Mario Chalmers is not the answer, that's pretty clear. But it's hard to argue that having a younger, more aggressive point guard would really be a worse option at this point. At least Chalmers will be able to give a full effort versus Arroyo, who seems largely overwhelmed by the task at hand.

Speaking of overwhelmed , how about Chris Bosh? When Bosh was taking calls from teams this summer, there were rumors that he was adamant about not playing center. Those talks simmered after he signed with the Heat, because obviously, he was expected to be the top big man on the team. The problem? This is no longer a big man's league, and even acceptable centers are hard to find. Meanwhile, Bosh looks lost on both sides of the floor. For some reason the Heat isn't using him in pick and roll situations, despite him being perfect for pick and pop scenarios. He's not rebounding, not attacking, and unable to fight like you need your primary big to .

This is nothing new; we knew this about Bosh coming in . But the team is trying to get him to be someone he's not , and in the interim, have no one to take the reins. For whatever reason, the subject of Erik Spoelstra's blame in the Heat's center problems has fallen on Joel Anthony. This despite being no worse than Zydrunas Ilgauskas and more capable of getting up and down the floor. Zydrunas Ilgauskas is a pick and pop shooter. That's what he does. And he can do it against teams like the Raptors who don't close out. He cannot do it against teams like the Celtics who do, even with Shaquille O'Neal on the floor.

In wins, the Heat actually does pretty well inside. It's only against teams which challenge them that they struggle. Kevin Garnett, Paul Millsap, Emeka Okafor. These players are getting what they want and it's simply been too easy. Either Joel Anthony or Chris Bosh will have to step up, or the Heat is going to have to find another option at Center.

The Spark

The biggest problem with the Heat, however, has less to do with their ball movement and such. Their defensive numbers have been good, but fallen off against good competition. The problem has been mental. They have lacked the aggression of a team that seeks to go out and dominate. Instead, they seem meek, confused at most times, and uncertain. Their ball movement is tentative, and their offense most times seems most like a group of players trying to convince themselves to make something work they're not really sure of. That will surely improve as they learn the offense more fully. But in the interim, they need fire.

The Celtics smacked the Heat in the face. Twice. Without a home court advantage to speak of , this team of promise is going to have to look inside, to all that anger they talked so much about in regards to the haters. They have to play with passion, with desire, and most importantly, with urgency. When the Hornets came out and blitzed them, they simply went through the motions. When the Jazz stormed back on them, they acted shell-shocked. And when the Celtics blasted them from start to finish, they made their close to finish the game, but lacked the intensity to prevent the gap from being insurmountable, and the drive to finish the job. If the Heat wants to become the team they assembled to be, the team they were promoted to be, the answer is simple. They are going to have to want it more.


Posted on: November 13, 2010 2:37 am
Edited on: November 13, 2010 2:54 pm
 

Did the Miami Triad spoil Carmelo's escape plan?

LeBron James' free-agency escapades may have held up Carmelo's intent to relocate this summer.
Posted by Matt Moore




Ken Berger's post on Carmelo Anthony contains a wealth of information on the Carmelo Anthony situation. Among the information relayed is this particular nugget of note which  contains a reference to our favorite Triad currently struggling down in South Beach:

This is precisely where the Nuggets began to lose their leverage with Melo, according to a rival executive and a second person familiar with the dynamics. As teams that would've been attractive to Anthony began scrambling to use their cap space on Plans B and C after striking out on LeBron and Wade, Anthony and the Nuggets were stuck in limbo. Melo's representatives at Creative Artists Agency -- the same operation that had been preoccupied all summer orchestrating the Miami signings -- didn't begin making noise about Anthony's desire for a trade until August. By then, the Nuggets' front office had been blown up and several promising trade partners had spent their money elsewhere. It was too late.
So what to take from this? Well, most prominently, if Carmelo Anthony does in fact want out of Denver and into a more attractive market, you know, like the five that were fawning over James and his cohorts this summer? Then CAA's distracted stance with those three overshadowed the situation regarding Carmelo and in doing so, was slow to enable him to move, and subsequently landed him firmly cemented in the Mile High City.

Not that this will affect Carmelo's relationship with the Triad, those guys are thick as thieves. But there's still a level of complexity here where when you look at it. CAA was so wrapped up in "The Decision" and the formation of the rather epic PR disaster going on in Miami at the moment, it allowed Carmelo Anthony to become cemented in Denver, even while he was not signing a very available extension.

So. If following this logic we come to the conclusion that Carmelo Anthony is unlikely to win a championship this season, and if he does in fact want out (and again, Carmelo's been very clear that's not the case... maybe... probably... something), then this is kind of a lost season for him. And that's unfortunate.

Which would make the list of things damaged by LeBron James' free agency and related decisions: Cleveland, Ohio and all its residents, Cleveland Cavaliers fans worldwide, the New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers, New Jersey Nets, Jim Gray's career, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade's public reputations, several members of the Miami Heat ticket sales office and the ability of Carmelo Anthony to expedite his relocation.

Look, you may hate the guy, but even you have to admit that's impressive.

Posted on: November 12, 2010 1:35 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2010 1:40 pm
 

Friday 5 With KB: KG the Jerk, Heat fail, and BRI


Posted by Matt Moore

1. Kevin Garnett is not exactly the most popular guy in the world right now. Garnett seems to be the kind of guy who is loved by his friends and close circle and is abrasive to everyone else. Do you have any thoughts on his evolving legacy from lovable lunatic lose to hated psychotic champion?

Ken Berger: I think your evaluation of KG is spot on. He is like the crazy uncle that everyone is wary of and constantly nervous about what he might say or do next. But he's family, so you tolerate him. You know, the old, "He's a jerk, but he's our jerk." At this point, Garnett could care less what people think about him or what his legacy is. He's perfectly content to continue yapping and thumping his chest and winning another championship. And I don't see anything wrong with that, as long as he doesn't care that he'll never be named man of the year or Mr. Congeniality. To me, the funniest aspect of this whole episode recently was Joakim Noah calling Garnett ugly. Hey, Jo, I don't think GQ is putting you on the cover any time soon.

2. Not exactly a banner week for the Heat. Scale of 1 to 5. How much should fans  (if there are any) be pushing the panic button?

KB: I'd say 3.5. On one hand, some of this could have and should have been expected, given that basketball is a team game and you can't just plug talent into the equation like in baseball and automatically win 70 percent of your games and waltz to the championship. I know that you know that in basketball, how the pieces fit together are every bit as important -- if not more so -- than the talent itself. Eventually, the talent will shine through, and LeBron and Wade will become as deadly a combination as we thought they'd be. But there are several areas of concern that need to be watched closely: The misuse of LeBron's and Wade's best attributes when they are on the floor with a point guard, meaning neither one has the ball in his hands for too many possessions. This can (and should) be solved when Mike Miller comes back. Instead of a point guard, you put Miller on the floor with LeBron and Wade acting as interchangeable wings who take turns initiating the offense. In my mind, LeBron fits this role best. Two, the lack of size is becoming a major issue. Erick Dampier, please pick up the white courtesy phone. Three, Erik Spoelstra struck a chord when he lectured the team at halftime Thursday night about ego. It has been a real wakeup call for these three free-agent darlings who came together so effortlessly. Winning in May and June is going to prove a lot more difficult than winning in July.

3. In the Post-Ups you alluded to the improving situation in New Orleans. Now that the team looks like it's ready to compete in the playoffs again (though it's still early), is it time to start looking for what can get them to the next level, and what is that?

KB: I think it's a positive sign that the Hornets are trying to get someone CP3 would consider to be a top-tier running mate. But they're a little stuck in that regard, and here's why: Peja Stojakovic and his $14.3 million expiring contract could be easily deal to a team trying to get off a lot of future money, and if one of those pieces coming back is an elite 3-point shooter, New Orleans is better in the short run. But they future money they'd have to take back in such a deal would hamper their ability to make moves next summer -- or whenever the lockout ends and under whatever new rules exist. The most valuable asset on the NBA market right now is cap flexibility heading into the uncertainty of a new CBA, especially for low-revenue markets. So the Hornets can't allow themselves to be tempted by the prospect of getting better in the short term at the expense of hampering their flexibility heading into a new deal. 

4. You also wrote in the Post-Ups that Kevin Love is garnering offers. Why is it that the Wolves are so reticent to trade him if they won't play the man?

KB: Ah, this is a question that goes straight to the heart of the most mysterious figure in the NBA, David Kahn. I'm told in recent days that Love isn't the only player who wants out of Minnesota. Corey Brewer does, too -- but Brewer isn't making any noise publicly, or even privately. Love is doing both. Right now, the Wolves like Love's talent but are disenchanted with his attitude. I think if the right deal came along, they'd move him. Because that locker room is too fragile right now to risk keeping a malcontent on board. Maybe Kahn can trade Love for a few more point guards.

5. BRI up 3 to 3.5%, record ratings across the board. Selling the NBA store for $300 million. The league is booming. Are owners really going to walk away from the most prosperous time in recent history to prove a point? Really?
KB: Yes sir-ee-bob. A hearty contingent of owners see this as a once-in-a -lifetime opportunity to change the economics of the sport in their favor. They also know the vast majority of people will side with them, because of their inherent biases against "greedy millionaire players." This is silly, of course, but it's just the way things are. There are a couple of reasons to be encouraged: 1) sources tell me numerous owners were impressed with the players' presentation of their proposal at a recent CBA meeting, realizing that the union was offering some creative ideas as how to make the business better for everyone; and 2) there's still a lot of time. The next key time-marker in this battle is All-Star weekend, when both sides concede significant progress will need to have been made. But as in all negotiations, the real progress doesn't happen until the 11th hour. Will there be a lockout? Yes, in my opinion. Are the owners and players short-sighted enough to let it wipe out an entire season, or even as much of the season as the '98-'99 lockout did? I don't think so. Both sides realize there's too much at stake.
Posted on: November 12, 2010 11:56 am
 

Mike Miller back for Christmas?

Heat guard trying to beat expectations and return for Christmas game against LA. Posted by Matt Moore

Mike Miller was expected to be out until January. That was the plan. But Miller knows how much the Heat miss him and is doing everything he can to get back sooner than expected. Particularly in time for the Heat's biggest challenge yet, the Lakers on Christmas day.

ESPN.com reports that Miller told reporters he is trying to make it back for when the Heat and Lakers play on Dec. 25th. From ESPN.com:

"My goal is to get out there a little quicker than we thought. I'm looking to be out there ready to go when we play the Lakers."
The Heat need Miller badly. Eddie House and James Jones are making an entire village out of the bricks they're throwing up, and Wade and James need someone to take the constant doubles off. Miller's not an answer for all their problems, but he's a pretty good start.

Posted on: November 11, 2010 5:22 pm
 

5 Things to Watch: Boston at Miami

5 Things to Watch in Celtics-Heat. Posted by Matt Moore



With Boston visiting South Beach to meet the suddenly-reeling Miami Heat, it's time to look at this game and it's importance. The opening night game? Sure, you're new to one another. These things happen. Boston had a bloodthirsty home crowd, the Celtics like to set examples, and you still almost pulled it out. The Hornets loss? Hey, when you're hot, you're hot, and the Hornets are jalepeno right now. But the loss to the Jazz? After being up 20? That's a bad sign. Three losses in less than three weeks of the season and you're looking at a Heat team that looks nothing like the juggernaut it was supposed to be. And now? The Celtics come calling again. Not even the friendly confines of South Beach look so comfy after the Jazz stole one earlier this week.

So what's the story with this game? Here are five things to keep an eye on as the Heat face the Celtics for the second time this season.

1. Weapons Point Blank: Rajon Rondo. Chris Paul. Deron Williams. 38 points. 50 assists. Three wins. In the three losses the Heta have suffered, point guards have absolutely detonated them and them kicked dirt on the debris. And one of the arsonists is back in the house this eveining. Say that they're great players. They are. Say they made plays. They did. But if the Heat are going to have any shot against a Boston club that likely wants to put the foot down on the throat again, they're going to have to at least distract Rondo long enough so that he doesn't single-handedly rip them apart with his bare, headband-less head and hands. Which means that finally, maybe, it might be time for Erik Spoelstra to give Mario Chalmers some burn. Why? Because he can't do worse than Carlos Arroyo and some combination of LeBron and Wade have. Chalmers is young, hungry, and after being buried on the bench? Very angry.

Sick 'em, kiddo.

Even if Chalmers gets torched, at least you'll have your guys defending the other options on the C's while trying to make Rondo a scorer, which is in his repertoire and yet not his specialty. It's time to attempt desperate matters. And Mario Chalmers? That's pretty desperate.

2. Let The Big Dog Eat: This is going to sound nuts. But the Celtics need to allow, nay, encourage LeBron James to play point guard. Last time out, he wound up with 8 turnovers. And watching the other Heat games, instead of becoming the ultimate facililtator, against good defense, James is forced into bull-in-china-shop mode. And against the Celtics, that's preferable because they can close at the rim. Otherwise you're forcing Paul Pierce, Marquis Daniels and/or Rondo to chase James off screens and deter a monster in motion. Similarly Wade at point requires more pure speed and that's dangerous in and of itself. Pressuring James off-ball to get him on and then backing in will probably help the Celtics out. Just like it did last time.

3. No Cute Puns, Just Keep The Ball Out Of The Role Players' Hands In Crunch Time: "James Jones, for the tie!" CLANG. "Eddie House, for the win!" CLANG. Over and over, the Heat have provided what I can only describe as a disgusting number of opportunities to Eddie House and James Jones to step up and deliver and in the biggest games? They've whiffed. Well, okay, not whiffed. They got a whole lot of rim. If this one goes down to crunch time, the Heat need to let the guys they pay the big Bucks to earn them. No more role players. Let the stars shine. They're great players. Let them be great and quit telling them to jump pass to guys who haven't shown their ready right now, despite their history in the clutch.

4. Big Baby Gotta Eat: Glen Davis has been the most important bench player, arguably in the NBA not just the Celtics. He tore up the Heat in Round 1 with 13 points on 6 of 7 shooting. In doing so, he hammered them while also drawing charges on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.  The Celtics need that from Davis. The works: the mid-range jumper, the inside reverse that looks like a drunken seal trying to toss a ball over his head, the offensive tip-in, all of it. He can be the difference in this game, because so far, Udonis Haslem has been unable to be what he needs to be for Miami. Big night for the Big Baby.

5. Keep Up The Pressure, Stay In The Game: Both teams have surrendered big leads. Both teams have come back from behind. Whichever team establishes itself early has to stay in constant focus to be able to convert a lead into a win. Let up, start letting go, and the game will get tight again. The Heat have been bad in the clutch. But they also have a tremendous roster of guys that can deliver (if they don't jump-pass, see No.3). Focus and consistency will be the answer for whoever comes out with the win.
Posted on: November 10, 2010 10:06 am
Edited on: November 10, 2010 12:07 pm
 

Game Changer 11.10.10: Fluke or Fact?

Was the Jazz win a fluke or a sign of the Heat's cooler underbelly? Did the Hornets just win with their bench? And are the Cavs leading their freaking division? All this and more in today's GameChanger .
Posted by Matt Moore


Each game is made up of elements which help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the night before's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what lead to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer.  

THE BIG ONE: JAZZ PULL A FAST ONE ON THE HEAT


So the question is... was this fluke a not? Because the implications are rather significant. Let's not, for a moment, take anything away from the Utah Jazz. They were on the road, in a hostile sleepy environment, and they simply scratched, clawed, and pounded their way to a win over the most star-studded team in the NBA. Down by 20 last night, they roared back in a 72-point second half to defeat the Heat. A huge win for coach Jerry Sloan, a win the team needed, and an amazing night for Jazz fans that shows their tenacity, their heart, and their talent.

Now, then.

The Heat won the rebounding battle, 46-44. The Heat split the turnover battle, with each team losing it a dozen times, nothing too egregious. The Heat fouled only 20 times to the Jazz' 32. And until the fourth quarter, they held a significant advantage in shooting percentage, with the Jazz shooting 41% to the Heat's 47%. There were a lot of things that would have to go right in the fourth for the Jazz to force overtime.

They happened.

For starters, the Jazz shot 17 of 23 in the fourth, not Indiana numbers , but still an absurd streak. This was of course capped off by Paul Millsap. Millsap entered last night's game a career 2 of 20 3-point shooter (10%). In the final minute of the game, he drained three 3-pointers, making him perfect on the season, as they were the only 3-pointers he's taken this season. Swish. Swish. Swish. Throw on top of that the 46 point detonation he leveled with the other 37 points, including the two on the tip in to force overtime, and you have an amazing night for Millsap, and a huge outlier in terms of predictable results. The Heat suddenly found themselves dropped from an airplane and happened to land right in the middle of a tornado. That's what we're talking about here in terms of probabilities.

So was it a fluke?

I don't think so.

We see the same pattern carried out across the Heat's three losses. A scoring forward down low who's able to use his size to create points amid the barren trees of Miami (tall, sure, but not great defenders). And a point guard who can tear you up (Deron Williams tallied 14 assists last night). In Boston it was Rondo and Glen Davis; in New Orleans it was Chris Paul and Emeka Okafor. Now Millsap-Williams scratch their names onto the tree trunk of inside-out combos that have cooled the Heat. Furthermore, we see the same kind of discombobulation we've seen all season, especially in crunch time, the same reliance on sub-par players to take the biggest shots ("Eddie House for the win... clang!"), the same lackadaisical performance out of the Heat mentally, and the same defensive breakdowns in the biggest moments.

Adding to the improbability of the night was the fact that the Triad gave the kind of performance you'd want from them. Dwyane Wade had 39 and 6 rebounds, LeBron James had a triple-double with 20, 11 boards, and 14 assists, and Chris Bosh had 17 and 9. And they still lost .

The Jazz needed a few more things go their way in this one, that's for sure. The problem is the Heat handed the Jazz those things on a platter. And trying to establish exactly how to resolve those things isn't going to be easy for head coach Erik Spoelstra, who's got to be feeling a little hot this morning either way.

Great win for the Jazz, tough loss for the Heat.

GO-GO-GADGET LINES OF THE NIGHT:


Paul Millsap: Yeah, we'll go ahead and notch him down with 46 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block.

LaMarcus Aldridge: 19 points, 17 rebounds, and Aldridge seems more and more like he's taken a big step into becoming a legit big.

Kevin Love: 23 points, 24 rebounds. Amazing what happens when a good player gets playing time, isn't it?

Dwyane Wade: 39 points, 6 rebounds. Hard to argue that Wade didn't do his part last night.

LeBron James: 20 points, 11 rebounds, 14 assists. His first triple-double as a member of the Heat. And again, they lost. So weird.

Al Farouq Aminu: 20 points, 8 rebounds. Look at the rookie make progress!

WHAT YOU MISSED:


Brandon Roy had his knee drained .

Our Power Rankings are out , and we went 3-Up, 3-Down .

Oh, and the Pacers went freaking En Fuego .

KB lays out how the Bret Bearup situation affects Melo .

HORNETS KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON (WINNING)


This time they didn't even need Chris Paul to be amazing. The Hornets had every reason for a let-down game after their last week and hot start. Hey, they've got to lose sometime, don't they?

Don't they?

The Clippers are a bad team, but again played well last night, enough to hang until the fourth, with Al Farouq Aminu emerging from the shadows looking like an actual NBA player. But this time it wasn't the starting superstars that did it for the Hornets. It was the bench mob. Jerryd Bayless ran the show, Willie Green filled it up (19 points on 7-10 shooting), and that was enough for the Hornets to pull away and not need Chris Paul to press his knee anymore. The Hornets just keep finding ways to get it done. The Hornets are running a weird modified break, where they force the issue, pulling teams inside, then using smart passing around the perimeter to get the job done with open jumpers. It may not be sustainable, but by God, it's working right now.

YOUR DAILY SIGN OF THE IMPENDING APOCALYPSE

The Cleveland Cavaliers lead the Central division at 4-3.

WHIMSY


"Hold me... "




HERO OF THE DAY


Uh, yeah, I think we'll go with MANSAP.



ONE FINAL THOUGHT

The Minnesota Timberwolves played a great game last night. It'll get glossed over in the headlines and be forgotten within about, oh, four hours, but they really did. Kevin Love was just tremendous on the glass and they had some good things going. They just couldn't get the last burst to get past the Lakers, who had one of their "Do we really have to care nights?" And the answer was no. But still, good stuff from the Wolves who responded to their beat downs lately with a respectable performance. And yet another loss.

Follow F&R on Twitter at @CBSSportsNBA and check out our RSS feed . This has been your daily edition of the Game Changer.

Posted on: November 9, 2010 10:37 pm
 

At the Buzzer: Jazz' Millsap detonates Heat

LeBron James gets a triple-double, Dwyane Wade gets 39, and the Heat are overtaken again as Jazz' Millsap scores 46 in overtaking Miami in overtime.
Posted by Matt Moore


Those in the NBA spheres who were waiting to start the clock on Pat Riley taking the reins of the Miami Heat may have held off after two losses in the first two weeks to two great teams. This will likely get them pushing those buttons if they're going to at all.

The Heat gave up 72 points in the second half after a 20-point lead in the first half to lose in overtime, at home to the Utah Jazz 116-114 . Paul Millsap was ridiculous, scoring 46 points with 9 rebounds while Deron Williams filled it up with 14 assists, as if to say to Chris Paul after his Hornets beat the Heat, "Match!".

The Heat are now 5-3, with three losses in the first three weeks of the season. Not exactly what the Triad was thinking would happen when they rose up from the floor to the excited fans. Oh,and those excited fans? They were nearly in a coma tonight, and tickets still remain for the Boston freaking Celtics' visit to American Airlines on Thursday.

As much as this was to some degree a fluke game, with Millsap draining three 3-pointers (!) for crying out loud, there are no excuses for this team. And the Heat still seem out of sorts, discombobulated, and without a guy they can definitively turn to. Dwyane Wade had 39 points, LeBron James had a triple-double, Chris Bosh had 17 points and 9 rebounds, and they still lost. The one thing that had been helping them in games, their defensive effiiceny, took a tumble as the Jazz simply picked them apart.

For the Jazz, they're finally starting to look like the team they need to be this season. Williams is getting back in the act, and even when Al Jefferson had a terrible night, Millsap more than made up for it.

It was recently reported that the Utah Jazz would start extension talks with Jerry Sloan. You have a feeling Erik Spoelstra will not be having the same conversations any time soon.

The temperature rises.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com