Just a quick few thoughts on today’s games
Indiana vs Miami
The Pacers won in a blowout today to go up 2-1 versus the Heat. A very good performance and a much deserved result.
However, as far as Miami is concerned, it was a thoroughly disappointing result and performance. It is amazing to see this team – a team full of experienced players and led by two MVP caliber talents – be rattled so easily. As early as the initial stages of the third quarter, and only down a single digit deficit, Miami began to implode.
I couldn’t believe the defeated looks on so many of their faces. Heads down. They were stunned. Like they had no idea as to how they could win this game. That losing was inevitable. That they had no answer for Indiana’s sudden momentum. Like I said, it’s shocking to see a team of this caliber rattled so easily. Absolutely shocking.
This loss is a gut-check moment for the Miami Heat organization.
And I think they’ll come back strong in the next game keyed by a big Dwyane Wade game … which the Miami Heat fans richly deserve after his let-down performance tonight.
Jamaal Magloire and Eric Dampier
This series is a situation where Miami sorely need a Jamaal Magloire or Eric Dampier to check Roy Hibbert (or even a Zydrunas Ilgauskas).
Their front office screwed up letting both of those big bodied physical defensive minded centers leave without replacing them. If they had either one of those guys right now, they’d be in a much stronger position (matchup wise).
Dexter Pittman wasn’t going to be ready for the role. Eddy Curry is only just back from a prolonged absence from the game and, even when he was in peak condition, he was an offensively orientated player who didn’t give anywhere near enough effort on defense or on the backboards.
Joel Anthony was a mobile and solid big man defender but Miami needed to keep a viable alternative on their bench to better matchup against physical post players like a Roy Hibbert (or an Andrew Bynum and several others). They should have kept Jamaal Magloire or Eric Dampier around as a third string center.
Wade Defending Granger
I didn’t like seeing this matchup happen. Miami needs to keep either Battier or LeBron on Granger at all times. When LeBron goes to check David West, and if Granger is in the game, that means Shane Battier needs to be too.
Dwyane Wade is too small to adequately defend Granger and Mike Miller is too vulnerable in man-to-man defense to do so. Hmm, maybe James Jones, yeah, I’d go with Jones before either of those two against Granger if Battier and/or LeBron is unavailable.
Battier Defending West
Another really bad matchup for Miami. Shane Battier has gotten a fair bit of credit while in Houston for playing as an undersized PF although I have never understood why. I cringe almost routinely whenever I see him there because he is far less effective as a defender/rebounder.
A sub-par man-to-man defender who struggles against heft and against height/length. Too many problematic matchups at PF for Battier to be effective there and he is also a sub-par rebound too.
David West is too talented a scorer and too big physically for Battier to check. LeBron James needs to defend West when Miami goes small and Battier needs to stay on the perimeter (on Granger … or George if Granger is resting).
LeBron at Center
Late in the second quarter, Miami moved LeBron to center as both teams went small with Roy Hibbert resting.
- PG – Chalmers
- SG – Wade
- SF – Miller
- PF – Battier
- C – LeBron (defending David West)
Miami used LeBron both as a center defensively an as the initiator offensively. A point-center type role or whatever the heck you want to call it. It was a strange sight but an enjoyable one at that.
However, I would like to see LeBron work off the elbows when surrounded by shooters rather than seeing him create 25 feet from the basket off the pick and pop. Get him closer to the basket and allow him to use his quickness when he turns and faces up the slower big man. One dribble and he’ll be at the basket. Very difficult to stop.
Also, I’d love to see LeBron develop himself a bit more in order to be more effective at the center position. He is fully capable of playing there at 6-9, 270lbs. He has the skill-level to cause major problems there but he needs to improve his understanding of the position.
He needs to realize that as the biggest and most athletic player on the floor he needs to keep himself in prime position to be the main help defender / rim protector in the paint and the team’s main rebounding threat. He also needs to realize that he has a very different sort of defender on him and that he can attack him in different ways rather than continuing to play the same style all of the time.
Anyway, with Miami’s big men struggling so badly, this is something we may see more of over the next few games whenever Roy Hibbert is on the bench. Indiana has three undersized PFs (West, Hansbrough, Amundson) taking up the rest of their big man minutes so there is a good opportunity to be effective with LeBron at the center position. Besides, he is their best center on the active roster with Bosh out.
Wade’s Spat with Spoelstra
I don’t want to read too much into it. Just chalk it up to one of those ugly things which happen now and again. They shouldn’t but they do every once in awhile.
Miami’s big men must do a better job boxing out Roy Hibbert. The Heat can live with poor rebounding numbers so long as their bigs are doing their job and keeping Indiana’s bigs off of the glass. But to fail to put a body on Hibbert and give up numerous offensive rebounds and second chance points is totally unacceptable.
Hibbert’s Big Pay-Day
If Big Roy keeps this up, he’s going to be massively overpaid this summer.
San Antonio vs LA Clippers
Blake Griffin and Chris Paul
- During the fourth quarter, and after getting 30 minutes of playing time himself, Blake Griffin had a grand total of 1 rebound. Completely unacceptable. He also turned down numerous good shots – short jumpers, midrange jumpers and long two point jumpers – during the contest as he had done in the previous round. Plus, played his usual so-so defense.
- Chris Paul, in 28 minutes, had 10 points and 3 assists. He was very quiet for much of the game and only really had one flash of intent late in the third quarter but couldn’t sustain it. There were times were he looked limited physically and others were he looked lightening quick and very explosive. I have no idea whether he is limited by injury, or if it’s in his head, or, if he’s just playing poorly … but what he’s doing, simply put, isn’t enough to give his team a chance at winning this series.
- The Clippers need their two stars to be dominant figures and neither have them answered that call. Perhaps because of the injuries they picked up in previous rounds (then again, perhaps not).
- Overall though, it’s clear that unless this changes, the Clippers stand no chance at competing in this series and face the very real possibility of being swept
Also, the Clippers defensive effort (as a whole) has been far too weak.
- I can’t see this Clippers team coming back from an 0-2 deficit and winning 4 of the next 5 games against this San Antonio team. There isn’t enough talent in this Clippers locker room to go on a four-five game run like that and there is too much in the Spurs locker room to allow that. So this series is pretty close to being over.
- San Antonio will win this series and go on to the next round.
- Terrific play from Duncan once again tonight. He has DeAndre Jordan locked up and stuffed in his inside pocket. Not letting him out anytime soon either. Jordan has no idea what Duncan will do next whenever he has the ball in his hands. Constantly jumping at fakes and succumbing to Timmy’s clever footwork and finishing. Duncan’s jump-shooting and range of passing is also a delight to watch. He is picking apart the Clippers defense.
Spurs Depth and Balance
- The Spurs incredible teamwork has been on full display in these first two games. Lovely ball movement. Lots of scoring threats. Lots of people contributing to the team. A true pleasure.