On Tap: The Miami Heat

Kurt —  January 16, 2006

Record: 23-15 (Pythagorean 24-14), 2nd seed in the East
Record last 10 games: 7-3
Offensive Rating: (110.1, 7th in league)
Defensive Rating: (104.7, 6th in league)

First, some FB&G site news: Today was the day that we’re unveiling an exclusive sponsor here at FB&G, Pony Shoes. For those of you who either are bloggers or know much about the medium, having a sponsor is huge for me, it mean’s I’m not losing money here anymore (which, with a second child coming in April is going to make my wife very happy). But to pimp them for a second, while they never went away Pony is making a more public push back into the shoe market with some very cool gear, worth checking out at their Web site. Plus, they sponsor Chris Mihm, maybe the most underrated of the Lakers. I’d say check it out for me, but really, do it for yourself. Or, if not, Chris.

Also, thanks to Gatinho for stepping in yesterday and providing his thoughts from the back of Tim Kawakami’s head.

About the Hype: I’m not sure if you remember, but these two hooked up in an almost overlooked game by the media on Christmas day.

Actually, Mike Bresnahan from the Times seems to be catching on to where most real Laker fans (and true NBA fans) have been for some time — they’ve moved on from the Kobe/Shaq feud. It’s now almost a non-story for those that follow the NBA before April — however that latter category are the people who drive the Christmas Day television ratings. ESPN is not giving up on it that easily — Mark Stein made the interesting argument that this is still a story because Kobe and Shaq refuse to talk about it. Right, because if they talked about all their feelings and thoughts, you guys at ESPN would throw down your cameras and mikes and walk away. That “not talking makes the story bigger” logic works with the NSA spying scandal, not here. It is the media that brings up this feud and won’t let it die because it’s good for their business, most Laker (and I imagine, Heat) fans and players have moved on. Please join us, Mark.

About the Heat: That Christmas Day game was a thriller, and people will remember that Lamar Odom and Kobe Bryant both missed three pointers late that might well have changed the outcome.

What you may not remember is that it was the Laker bench that killed them that day — all five Laker starters had a positive +/- that day. However, Sasha was -23, Luke -14, Kwame -9, while Gary Payton came in for 21 points and Antoine Walker came off the bench to be a +20 for the Heat.

With Pat Riley on the bench and Shaq in the paint, the Heat have become a much better offensive team. In the last 10 games, it has been Dwayne Wade who has been on fire, shooting 57% from the floor. The Lakers are going to have to contain him tonight — nobody can stop him but don’t let him shoot around 60%.

Key’s to a Laker win: They have got to get good bench play and they have got to keep both Shaq and Wade in check. No small feats — the Heat are a good team. They’re not going to win the NBA title, or even the East (without the injury bug hitting Detroit and Cleveland), but they are still better on paper than the Lakers. That said, when the Lakers are on this is the kind of team they can beat — but they’ll need a good game out of everyone.