Preview and Chat: The Miami Heat

Kurt —  December 25, 2006

A game that has become a holiday tradition. Well, at least that is how ABC is selling this one, Personally, I can think of a dozen of matchups I’d rather see that don’t even involve the Lakers. And what does it say about the marketing suits at NBA headquarters that the Shaq/Kobe rivalry (and you know that is why they chose this game, not Wade) is still their premiere match up three years after the trade?

Champs to…. If the playoffs started today, the Heat at 12-14 would be on the outside looking in. And frighteningly, they aren’t playing as good as their record (if you use point differential they should be more like 9-16). Not that you can expect that to last, even with whatever Shaq can give when he returns they should be good enough to make the playoffs in the East.

Dwyane Wade is a god.
Right now, Wade might be the MVP of the league. He has the best PER in the league (27.49) while carrying the second highest percentage of his team’s offense in the league (32% when on the floor). He is the classic slasher guard with both quickness and hesitation moves. He’s only shooting 48.9% (eFG%) and 23.7% from three, but he gets to the line a lot and that bumps his true shooting percentage (think points per shot attempt) up to 56.9%, a very good number considering how much of the offense he has to carry.

Wade against the world.
Problem is, outside of Wade (and with Shaq sitting on the sideline in his $3,000 suit) the Heat are cold.

Alonzo Mourning is the starting center but any more than 20 minutes a night is too much for him at his age (that said, the man is still a good defender). Udonis Haslem has been solid on offense and is pulling down a team-best 15.6% of the available rebounds.

But after that, well, the Heat are counting on key production from Jason Kapono. Now, the former UCLA star can shoot the three — hitting 49.1% so far this year — but if you need him to be a key cog… that’s why the Heat are 28th in the league in offensive efficiency (103.1 points per 100 possessions, for some comparison the Lakers are at 110.4).

Things to look for: Just like Kobe, you are not going to stop Wade. But maybe the Lakers can make him less efficient. The two things to do are force him left (he used to be weak going left, now he’s human, but it’s better than his superhuman stats to the right) and to force him to take jump shots (shooting juts 39.4% [eFG%] on jumpers this season). Of course, that’s all easier said than done.

This could be another big night for Mo Evans off the bench. Along with Kobe, look for Evans to get some key minutes on Wade to see if he can do to him what he did to Vince Carter in the fourth quarter Friday (1 for 6).

This should be another big night for the Laker bench — they are hot and the Heat are not a deep team. The Lakers should be able to extend with guys like Farmar, Bynum and Vlad Rad (doing his little Borat dance).

Because there is no Shaq, the Heat tend to go small, bringing in guys like James Posey when Mourning goes off.

Smushaholics and UPS? The Heat have been torched most this season by opposing point guards (opponent PER of 18.2) and at the center spot (17.5). What this means is that Smush Parker could have a big game, as can UPS (Kwame “what can Brown do for you?). Although, I think Bynum may also go big against Michael Doleac and whoever else the Heat have on the bench to throw at him while Mourning rests.

Have yourself a Merry Christmas (or whatever and wherever you choose to celebrate), and take some time today (and then throughout the year) to enjoy time with your family and the things that really matter.

Kurt

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16 responses to Preview and Chat: The Miami Heat

  1. Happy Holidays. Lakers 108, Heat 99

  2. 2 things i’m worried about, Zo blocking ability & and wade coming off picks diving into our big man like gilbert did for 30fts. But I think this should be an easy win outside wade and zo

  3. Happy Holidays and Peace on Earth…

  4. let’s hope that the bench can build on the momentum they’ve started. I said it earlier, and still feel that having a second unit that not only holds it’s own, but builds a lead, or cranks up the “D” and gets us back in a game…
    well, that’s just demoralizing to the other team, and we’ve got such a deep team, we can essentially have 2 starting units to play the season. imagine how well that works when the “second season” arrives, fresher legs all around, better able to clamp down on “D”, 2 teams who BELIEVE they are better than their opponents.
    I’m sure Phil is having sweet dreams on what he can do from a coach’s perspective, he’s got a lot to work with this year.
    go Bench!
    and Happy holidays Laker fans…

  5. I think the second unit needs a “nick name” like the “stunt men” of the Championship Dodgers, (lead by Mickey Hatcher)…something the fans can shout, something that reminds our second unit they have an identity, that the fans recognize, and soon, the league will too, and still even though they recognize it, can’t stop them, cause our second unit will be the best in the league…imagine that.
    so, what can we give them for a nickname?

  6. Didn’t Luke come up with a nickname the bench guys back when he and Cook were rookies? The name excapes me, but that should be it.

    BTW, I’ve been really been impressed by Brian Cook’s play recently (and all year, when he isn’t suffering from vertigo) He seems to have added an inside presence to complement his outside shooting and looks like a legit starter at the 4.

  7. Could we make some stops after Wade’s first dribble? I mean… there’s no rotation on defense!

  8. 4-17 shooting from Kobe, 5-23 on 3-pointers, and a 16-point loss — not the game I was hoping to see on Christmas Day from the Lakers.

    The combination of bad 3-point shooting and 10 blocks by the Heat when we tried going inside (on top of 10 Miami steals) made for a fruitless offense against their zone.

    As for the refereeing, it wasn’t so much the number of (unfair, in my biased opinion) fouls, but their timing — taking our big men, and the team as a whole, out of the game EARLY. On the bright side, Ronny got some PT, and made the most of it, with 13/7.

    Hopefully we can see a couple of nice bounce-back games on the road against Orlando and Charlotte, followed by a home win against Philly. A 21-10 record would be a great way to kick off the new year!

    Happy Holidays, everyone!

  9. We really need to play big who big men who play like big men *unlike *cough* Cook) at the same time.

  10. Before the game, Kurt said:

    “Dwyane Wade is a god”

    Got that right.

    Wade got enough points AND assists AND blocks to seriously embarrass hapless Kobe, apparently still daydreaming about the sand on South Beach.

    “The Heat have been torched most this season by opposing point guards (opponent PER of 18.2) and at the center spot (17.5). What this means is that Smush Parker could have a big game, as can UPS (Kwame “what can Brown do for you?).”

    Dream on!

    Smush did get a big 7, but dropped near the nadir of penetration denial as Smush watched his “speedy” nemesis, 38 year old Gary Payton, push by on his way to a layup.

    Now if Kurt’s crystal ball had noticed Ronny and if Phil remembered that he played for the Lakers BEFORE the B brothers landed on the bench in foul trouble, we might have had more Christmas cheer and consumed fewer Christmas spirits of the wrong kind ahead of New Year’s . . . . .

    Alas and alack. Let’s remember to welcome the Heat to Staples next year and give them a belated Christmas present!

  11. Wow, Wade gets start treatment like I’ve never seen before. Not to say we lost unfairly (we deserved to lose by any measure), but all Wade had to do was be near a Laker and a whistle would blow. I’m thinking of the play where Kwame went straight up, didnt really contest the shot, and D-Wade still got bailed out. At that point, he knew he just had to drive and chuck up the ball, and he could succeed.

    Kobe’s sick. Bynum is no longer an offensive or defensive option. Turiaf played really well until plays were run for him. Then the whole team looked confused. Farmar looked good. Smush… shoot, I can’t even remember him playing in the game now. Walton was solid enough, but we needed more. Especially if he expects a Shane Battier paycheck next year.

    Disappointing loss, I really thought the game was ours to lose. That’s why there’s 82 of em, though.

    Pushing for 4th place and home court in the first round. We have to fend off Utah and Denver to get it though, which won’t be easy. Fifth place would be okay, as we’d avoid the big 3 of Dallas, San Antonio, and Phoenix in the first round.

  12. The reason I hate Wade: He always acts like he’s struggling and having a hard time playing. From his flops (his post-fall limpings… he did that HARD today) to his demeaner, he acts like he’s laboring being out there.

    And then you look at how massively efficient he is. He’s that kid in school who before every test talks about how bad he’s going to fail it. And then of course he has a 4.0.

  13. The reason I hate Wade is that he beat us, and dominated while doing it, and because wade is actually the grinch but everyone thinks he is santa.

  14. Hey, just letting everyone know that due to extenuating circumstances, no new post today. Sorry.

    But I’ll add this, I thought we were in trouble early on because when I’d seen the Heat before, Wade would drive and kick out and the other guys missed their open looks. Not yesterday.Wright is 5 of 9, Haslem is shooting 50% and Mourning looks 10 years younger. Well, sitll 2-2 on the trip, with winnable games ahead.

  15. thats an example of an TEAM OFF NIGHT! nothing really worked, kobe, starters, second team, defense, effort… NOTHING! (well, except turiaf) with the way the game was going, and add to that the trigger-happy refs calling a foul on every miniscule contact by a laker player on any heat player especially wade, the team could not get any “flow” on their game. I turned off the tv during the 3rd qtr coz I “just knew” that no comeback was ever gonna happen. Just like kobe said: Let it go guys… its just one game. Just wasn’t their day. The only good thing about that game is that our bigs got a lot of rest from being taken out of the game by the refs. Hope they have a good bounce back game tonight!

  16. Anyone see the drive where Wade went to the basket with no intention of making the shot and was subsequently bailed out on a questionable call? What? Be more specific?