Tag Archives: heat

Breakfast: Whoops.

Chicago's Jimmy Butler celebrates during a timeout. His 17 points helped Chicago to a 101-97 victory (Rob Grabowski/USATodaySports)

Chicago’s Jimmy Butler celebrates during a timeout. His 17 points helped Chicago to a 101-97 victory (Rob Grabowski/USATodaySports)

Wow, my bad.

I don’t usually put a curse on these type of things, that is, unless I’m making a monetary wager. BUT I DIDN’T. Actually, TheOrangeWedge has a guy for sports betting, but we’ll get to that another time.

The record still stands. Did Jerry West pop a bottle of champagne? I’d love to say yes, but we’ll never know for sure.

The Bull’s physical brand of basketball was enough to hold off the Heat as the Bulls ended the streak last night with a 101-97 victory.

The Heat didn’t win 27 games in dominating fashion. In fact, eleven of those wins needed fourth quarter comebacks to keep the streak going. Tight games in Sacramento, then Orlando, then Boston will have LeBron and Co. battle-tested come June.

But do they even need it? The way they’ve been playing, it would be lucrative to think that anyone could beat the Heat once, let alone four times in seven games.

In the late game, my Brooklyn Nets looked in fine form without “Iso” Joe Johnson for a second game. Johnson is suffering from a quad bruise, and his absence allows for two developments. First, Deron Williams, on what look like his healthiest metatarsals in years, was allowed to be more aggressive to the basket. The second is that without Johnson, the Nets are bigger, tougher, and more active in the post. Last night was all about the latter, as the Nets looked great on the road, winning 111-97 in Portland.

The difference maker for Brookyln was Reggie Evans, who finished with a career high 26 rebounds to match a career-high 22 points. Evans was a monster, working all his post moves and getting putbacks all night long.

The Nets are now just 2.5 games back of both Indiana and the Knicks for the 2nd best record in the Eastern Conference. Last night’s win has to provide some motivation as they move to 4-1 on their current 8 game road trip.

As for the Blazers, last night may have effectively ended their season. Rip City has been fighting for the 8th seed in the West, but now trails 10th place Dallas by two full games. Late in the fourth quarter, Blazers coach Terry Stotts emptied his bench, a sign that fans may want to watch the Sweet 16 for potential lottery picks.

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Dinner: Oh, What Could Have Been

The Big Three were almost Windy City bound.

The Big Three were almost Windy City bound.

Tonight, maybe as you’re reading this, the Heat will be cruising past the Bulls in Chicago for a 28th consecutive win. They’ve looked like basketball Gods as certain points during their pursuit of 33; heating up at the right moments and almost toying with lesser teams. But lets, for a moment, take a time machine trip back to 2010. The summer of 2010 to be specific, one of the most dramatic times for the NBA in which there was no basketball involved.

Take a look, if you will, at this video,  where Chicago is LeBron’s destination of choice according to oddsmakers. Miami comes in at a risky 15-2.

This was, of course, before the rumored-then-confirmed meeting between the Big Three in which they decided where they would play.

After the meeting, it seemed pretty clear that Bosh and LeBron were set on joining Wade in Miami, leaving the other potential suitors to scramble for deals on players like Amare, Carlos Boozer and Joe Johnson.

So what happened? Was it something Chicago said?

Of the Big Three as we know it, it was Wade who was most inclined to become a Bull. And at first it seemed he was actually going there. But as we learned it articles like this one, D-Wade didn’t feel like Chicago honored it’s former players enough. Loyalty is imporant to Wade, one of the qualities that sets him apart from many modern athletes. And the Heat are considered one of the more tight-knit organizations in sports (see: Erik Spoeltra), making Chicago an even tougher sell in comparison to South Beach.

But it almost happened. Almost!

Throw it in NBA history as one of the greatest “What-if” scenarios, but Wade and Co.’s unwillingness to join D-Rose and dominate the basketball universe has to raise some eyebrows, right?

Will this be a defining mark on the career of Derrick Rose? His inability to recruit? It has been suggested, but recruiting doesn’t seem like something Rose is into. Especially now, with the battle he’s currently fighting inside his own head. Let’s get this guy on the court in an NBA game before he hits the phones looking for teammates.

Will the Heat keep it going to 34? It’s hard to say. But wether you’re a basketball fan or not, you have to apprecaite the difficulty and the grind that this has been. And when you see them play, with their elite spacing and movement, and releentless tenacity on defense, think about how rare this is, and how close it could have been to something completely different. See you for Breakfast.

 

Breakfast: Knicks Struggling Out West

Tyson Chandler has started all 62 games for the Knicks this season (Aaron Ontiveroz/Denver Post via Getty Images)

Tyson Chandler has started all 62 games for the Knicks this season (Aaron Ontiveroz/Denver Post via Getty Images)

In a month nothing but the Heat will matter in the Easter Conference, so for now let’s talk a little Knicks. Boy, November feels like ages ago; when Rasheed Wallace was backing down fools in the Garden and teams were still lazy on defense. But as they begin their annual slide down the East standings, the Knicks are hurting right now in more ways than one.

It’s more than watching Tyson Chandler crumpled on the floor before the half of last night’s 23 point loss in Denver. It’s more than Carmelo, in his first game back in Denver, was awful from the field, clearly hindered by swelling in his right knee. It’s way more than Amare Stoudemire, who, despite playing somewhat effective basketball for the past three weeks, is back in a suit and will never be a consistently healthy athlete ever again.

The Knicks, in the midst of a brutal five game road trip, are being exposed as mentally weak as well as physically unstable. This is the second consecutive game that was over in the 3rd quarter, and they still have to travel to Portland and Utah, who are combined 43-19 at home.

Between those games is a matinee with Lob City, maybe the worst matchup for the Knicks right now. The athleticism and youth of the Clippers might make Kenyon Martin pass out.

Kenyon Martin. We need to talk about the Knicks rotation right now. This roster is filled with jump shooters, but now that the Knicks are running out of big men, there’s no way this team can compete. James White is getting more minutes, but from what I’ve seen thus far is best skill is without a doubt fouling. Iman Shumpert looks to be getting back to full strength, but his offensive game is so limited right now he can’t be the primary weapon on the floor. And that leaves me with J.R Smith, the man I’d never want to play a game of pick-up hoops with.

Smith is one of the NBA’s most frustrating scorers. The definition of streaky, Smith will occasionally make an improbable highlight-reel worthy shot, giving him liberty to jack up 20 more. But now with all the injuries, Smith has gone from a spark off the bench to depending on his shooting to generate offense. And it just isn’t working.

Have the Knicks been quitting? That’s not fair to say. But this team desperately needs rest, and they aren’t going to get it right now. The Knicks have one of the oldest rosters in the NBA, and right now it is a glaring flaw. Because not only to the best teams in the league right now have youth, most of them like to run. A lot. And from what I’ve learned, old guys don’t run like young guys.

I’m not saying the Knicks won’t make the playoffs. Hey, if they end up paired with the Hawks or Bulls, they might even grab a win or two. But this is a fighter on wobbly legs. And whether they realize it or not, they just can’t seem to punch back as strong as before. We’ll update this situation as we learn more about the knees of Melo and Chandler. Stay tuned.

Breakfast: Nets Running on Wobbly Williams

Deron Williams hobbles off...again (Corey Sipkin/NYDailyNews)

Deron Williams hobbles off…again (Corey Sipkin/NYDailyNews)

We learned alot about the Brooklyn Nets this past week. Fresh off the break, they win back to back games in the final minute against Milwaukee. Then, they stay put at the trade deadline, not moving Kris Humphries as many suggested. Last night, they lost to an athletic Houston team in the 4th quarter, relenting to Houston’s manic pace. With Carlesimo talking to the press about stopping Harden and Lin, he probably wasn’t thrilled about Carlos Delfino draining 6 three-pointers. But since we’ve come back from the break, I think we’re ready to make some definitive statements about this Brooklyn team.

This team goes as far as Deron Williams will take them. Joe Johnson is a nice piece, but he’s not the guy. Brook Lopez, whether you’d like to admit it or not, is an All-Star caliber center. But the offense, pace, and leadership all start with D-Will. And right now, that’s not the best basket to hold your eggs in.

Williams revealed he had another cortisone shot in both ankles on Thursday, and coach Carlesimo noted that he won’t be fully healthy for the remainder of the season. Williams is still a top-quality guard, averaging nearly 18 points and 8 assists. But it isn’t the same.

Deron can’t run. It hurts to take a jumper. He’s afraid of going strong to the rim.

Here is his 82games.com page. Notice how his baskets come jumpers (81 percent). Shouldn’t those be Joe Johnson’s percentages? He’s shying away from contact, and either distributing or taking long jumpers. Williams takes 5.2 threes per game, which is career high. In fact, his attempts per game numbers have gone up every year since his rookie season. Are defenders giving him more space? Or is it something else?

Last week when Jerry Colangelo called his fitness into shape it certainly raised eyebrows around the league. But calling Deron out of shape is just irresponsible. I’m sure Jerry Colangelo had his reasons but if Williams ankles are sore it’s because wear and tear. He started 55 of 66 games in 2011-12, which was often comprised of back to backs due to the late start. This, immediately followed by the Olympics, can’t be good for sore ankles.

My Angle: Not everybody is built like LeBron. Not everybody can age like Kobe. Deron Williams has moved past “I’m playing hurt” and into “this may be damaging long-term” territory.

This week was a microcosm for the Nets season. Wins over bad teams, losses over playoff teams. They are in the discussion, but there’s no way they beat any elite team (Heat, Pacers, Thunder) 4 times in two weeks.

Sitting at the four seed, you’re looking at the ceiling of the 2013 Brooklyn Nets. But whether this year’s struggle will have a lasting impact on the career of those involved remains to be seen.

Breakfast: Learning From Last Night’s Games

LeBron glides past Joakim Noah during last night's win (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

LeBron glides past Joakim Noah during last night’s win (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

The All-Star Break is over, and hopefully your girlfriend didn’t go. The Trade Deadline came and went, and here we are. With about 30 games left for each team, future playoff matchups like we had Thursday night mean more and more. Here’s what went down if you missed it.

HEAT VS. BULLS

Without Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls are a playoff team. They are NOT a playoff contender, but they definitely are a playoff team. The Bulls defense is very, very, good, but it is not enough to compete with the high-powered Heat.

The Bulls turned the ball over an uncharacteristic 17 times in the first half last night on their way to an 86-67 loss to Miami in the first half of last night’s TNT doubleheader. Miami was explosive throughout, and LeBron asserted himself on both ends of the court. James finished with a ho-hum 26 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists, but it was his presence on defense that had the most impact.

Chicago, worn down and frustrated by Miami’s pace and tenacity, were put away in the second half. Noah and Luol Deng, who struggled in a matchup versus LeBron all night, were benched in the opening minutes of the 4th quarter

WHAT DID WE LEARN: Miami is good. Chicago is good, but not good enough.

SPURS VS. CLIPPERS

After a lame 4th quarter in the opener, fans were excited to see Clippers-Spurs get underway. Unfortunately, the game was cancelled, and replaced by a new program, “Tony Parker’s ‘Hey I’m a Legit MVP Candidate’ Variety Show”. The Spurs never trailed in this game, making their first six shots and running an absolute clinic on offense cruising to a 166-90 at the Staples Center. The Spurs are now 6-1 on their annual 9-game Rodeo road trip.

The Clippers have great individual talent, and it was that very asset that was exposed Thursday as they quickly fell behind. LA lagged offensively, and possessions often ended with isolation moves and iffy jumpers. On defense, they were simply no match for San Antonio’s ball movement. The Spurs effortlessly moved and screened, allowing for players like Danny Green (15 pts) and Matt Bonner (7 pts)to knock down open jumpers.

But the real story was Tony Parker. On a night where he was supposed to go head-to-head with CP3, Parker blew up the argument before opening statements were made. Parker was in complete control of the offense, moving the ball at all times but finishing strong on the rare times LA held it’s ground. Parker finished with 31 points and 7 assists, shooting 12-16 from the field. In the simplest form, Parker was +31 on the night, Paul was -31. Game Over.

WHAT DID WE LEARN: Put Tony Parker in the MVP debate! He’s averaging a career-high in points (21.2) and assists (7.7), and the Spurs, despite a multitude of injuries, are four games ahead of the Thunder in the Western Conference. Show the Frenchman some love.