Archive for ‘Miami Heat’

March 7, 2011

“The World is Better Now Since the Heat is Losing”

by Jeeves

 

The title of this post is a direct quote from Dwyane Wade after the Heat’s latest “heart-breaking” loss to the Bulls. To me, it perfectly sums up the Heat and their legacy, to date. It’s deliciously self-centered and absurdly over the top.

Before jumping into the psyche of the Miami Heat, let’s take a look at some interesting facts. The Miami Heat’s record currently stands at 43-20 amidst a 4-game losing streak. Not bad, but not great. To put it in perspective, the Heat need to finish the season 19-0 to beat the Cleveland Lebron’s record from last season. It’s really quite incredible. The sum of the parts in Miami (Lebron+Wade+Bosh+the rest) will amount to less than the sum of the parts in Cleveland (Lebron+1/2 a season of Jamison+yeaaah, the rest). That’s all a far cry from their grand aspirations and the lofty predictions (will shatter the Bulls 72-10 record) of the pundits. The Heat are a great team against the dregs and the also-rans of the league. It’s against the upper-tier where they struggle. They are 1-9 against the Spurs, Mavs, Lakers, Celtics and Bulls, the 5 teams who appear to be their chief rivals in the quest for a championship. If you take out those 10 games from their schedule, they are scoring 8.5 pts per game more than their opponents. They’re basically blowing everyone else out. (As a point of comparison, the 1995-1996 Bulls had an average margin per game of about 12 points, against all comers).

Under normal circumstances, people would point to the fact that this team is still figuring out how to play with each other. People would note that beyond the Two and a Half Men, their isn’t much of a supporting cast and that it’s only a matter of time before they figure out some successful late game sets. This isn’t a normal situation, though. Instead of tempering expectations due to a litany of reasons, people (myself included) are enjoying the Heat’s struggles with a fiendish glee. You know what? I think we are fully justified in enjoying their misery. When a <del>team</del> trio takes to the stage in such an appalling manner, to celebrate the pure awesomeness of their union, they are not allowed to be offended when there’s a righteous backlash against them. When a troika of individuals proclaim themselves ready to win EIGHT championships, they are not allowed to bemoan their ‘us vs the world’ predicament. When a threesome of egotists start referring to themselves as the Heatles, they are not allowed to seek sympathy through the media. The Heat have sown the seeds of ill-will and hate and have to deal with the consequences. My advice to them: suck it up, and stop whining to the media that no one loves you. If you want the media and basketball fans around the country to stop feasting on your tears, then man up, stop crying and figure out how to win a close game. Until them we’ll all enjoy their tears of unfathomable sadness.

 

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February 28, 2011

The Motives of Free Agents

by Jeeves

After the formation of, for lack of a better name, (I’ll oblige them), the Heatles and now that Carmelo officially has become a Knick, it appears that the free agency landscape has changed drastically in the NBA. Throw in the impending (2012) free agencies of Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and Dwight Howard and it would be perfectly reasonable to assume that the (star) players now have all the leverage in terms of where they end up. The teams that these stars are leaving are desperate to get at least pennies on the dollar so they kowtow to the wishes of their star even as he orchestrates his departure. Inevitably, that star will leave for greener pastures in a larger market. That is, at least, the perception.

It is that perception that I want to take a look at. Do stars really leave their teams to sign larger contracts in a city they deem better? Plus, what qualities do these cities have that make them “better”?

So these are the rules, if you will, of the way I treated the data. I scoured the Internet for reliable lists of the highest paid players in their respective leagues. For the NBA, I used a HoopsHype list of the highest salaries of players for this season. This means that I wasn’t looking at the largest total salaries, just single season salaries from this current season. The site listed the top 30 players. For the MLB, I used the invaluable Cot’s Contracts. He had the top 33 total contracts in history listed, meaning the total value over the life of the contract. That means for the MLB, it’s more of a snap shot of the last 15-20 years rather than a single season snap shot. Finally, for the NHL, I used a listing from USA Today which had the top 25 salaries from LAST (2009-2010) season. (I ignored the NFL because things get hairy after including signing and roster bonuses).

So after choosing my lists, I parsed the names to find out which players either A) Signed with a different team as a free agent or B) Forced a trade/was traded and immediately signed an extension. Those in group B weren’t technically free agents, but things worked, to the same effect. It does, however, exclude players such as Matt Holliday who was traded to the Cardinals, played through the remainder of the season, hit free agency, and then resigned with the Cardinals.

Let’s take a look at the lists starting with the NBA since this is what set me on this line of inquiry:

NBA – 10/30 – 33%

Rashard Lewis (Magic)

Carmelo Anthony (Knicks)

Gilbert Arenas (first salary) (Wizards)

Amare Stoudemire (Knicks)

Kenyon Martin (Nuggets)

Elton Brand (76ers)

Peja Stojakovic (Hornets)

Lebron James (Heat)

Chris Bosh (Heat)

Carlos Boozer (Bulls)

Of the 30 highest paid players in the NBA, only 10 of them met my criteria. Bosh, Lebron, and Carmelo are all prominently on that list. They also, make up a sizable portion. The teams that the players signed with don’t seem to have any sort of correlation. For every Carmelo who wanted the big market you have a Peja who signed with the small market Hornets. For every Lebron James who headed for warm weather, there’s a Carlos Boozer who went to a cold weather city. I think what it comes down to is that the players went to the teams that could pay them the most. They also seem not to be (LBJ excluded) the premier talents of the league. Yes, Amare Stoudemire is a very good player but he wouldn’t be in your top 7 of players with whom to start a team with. Taking this all into account, it seems (recently) that star players usually sign extensions with teams that drafted them (2/3 of the listed 30). It means that the Heatles and Melo are breaking the mold, so to speak, with the way that they orchestrated their moves to their current teams. It’s impossible to say whether this is a trend or a blip, but if history says anything it is that you can expect some superstars to move about, but the vast majority will stay put.

After the jump we’ll take a look at the NHL and MLB.

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February 25, 2011

Friday Photo: Starring Chris Bosh

by Jeeves

Each Friday we bring you funny/odd/offbeat photos from the week before. As always hover over the pics for bonus captions.

Let’s just title this, Call of Doody

The name on the jersey should really read “RuPaul”…or if you want to get technical “of Big Men”

Dunno what’s more impressive, 100 pts or 1-18…

especially considering his shot selection

Pictures courtesy of @bullsblogger (and his readers) writer of Blogabull.

February 25, 2011

Chris Bosh had a Rough Night

by Jeeves

The .5 in the Miami Heat’s Big 2.5 had himself a rough, rough night. Not only did his Miami Heat lose to the Bulls in Chicago falling to 1-6 against the top-5 teams in the league, but he was one of the main factors contributing to the loss. Bosh went a whopping 1-18 from the field. You read that correctly one for freakin’ eighteen. It was the worst shooting performance by a player since Tim Hardaway went 0-17 back in 1991. Bosh also had the most misses in a game since Mike Newlin went 1-22 in 1973. Bosh’s performance was, without exaggeration, historically bad. To add insult to injury, he was also outrebounded by Lebron James, Luol Deng, and Omer Asik (who played half the amount that Bosh did). To really put the cherry on top, there’s the horrendous flop you can see in the .gif above or the video below:

I really, really wish the league could retroactively fine him for that flop job. I’m a big soccer fan and that’s way worse than what you normally see...this video, notwithstanding.

I would love to be a fly in the wall in the Heat locker room tonight. It would be really interesting to see how Lebron treats Bosh after this performance, especially after Bosh dissed his teammate by saying he’d vote for Rose as MVP. It’s one thing to be honest and forthright to the media, it’s another thing to be honest at the expense of one of your teammates. Lebron did say he’s taking names of those that disrespect him; I guess we’ll have to wait and see if he puts Chris Bosh on his list.

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February 17, 2011

The NBA All-Star Player Draft

by Jeeves

The NBA All-Star break is fast approaching (the Lakers, it seems, have been on break for a little while), which got me thinking, what would happen if the NBA had a player draft for the ASG, like the NHL did?

Before we get to how I think things would play out, here are some things to keep in mind.

The game, this year, is in Los Angeles, therefore, I’m choosing Kobe and Blake Griffin as the two captains. If the game was in say, Vegas again, I’d probably go with Durant and Lebron as the captains as they play the same positions and there’s the whole super humble vs super ego angle. Since it is LA, I thought it would be nice to have the two “home teams” provide the captains. Second, I’m working under the assumption that there’s something actually on the line here that would make all the players desperately want to win, other than just pride. Basically before the draft, everyone is programmed with Kobe’s pathological desire to win. I’m also giving Kobe top pick since LA is more his town than Blake’s…for now. Also, on the playground we always played the first captain gets the choice of first pick or second two.

Kobe – Pick 1 – Dwight Howard

Kobe knows that defense wins championships games. Dwight offers great defense and pretty damn good offense down low. Some probably think the pick here would be Lebron, but Kobe knows that he duplicates some of Lebron’s skill set.

Blake – Pick 1 – Lebron James

No brainer here. Lebron is the best player in the NBA in my books. This team also has the die cast for a sick display of dunking and alley-oops, which leads to…

Blake – Pick 2 – Chris Paul

There’s no point forward on this team. Paul will be the one throwing oops to Bron Bron and Griffin. The former undisputed top PG gets bragging rights in this draft, though I personally wouldn’t rank him first.

Kobe – Pick 2 – Kevin Durant

Kobe picks another wing scorer, one that’s young enough and humble enough to clash with him personality-wise on the court.

Blake – Pick 3 – Dwyane Wade

With Lebron in his ear, Blake chooses Wade to round out his starting back court. A Wade, Lebron, Griffin trio is a Big Three worth much more hype than the Big 2.5 of Wade, Bosh, Lebron.

Kobe – Pick 3 – Derrick Rose

Kobe goes with Rose to run the point. I think of this writing, Rose is the best PG in the league (a two legged Paul would be better, but since he only has one, it’s Rose). Rose provides the whole package at the 1. Drive and kick ability, a great mid range game, 3-pt range, pretty good defense, etc.

Blake –  Pick 4 – Pau Gasol

The Griffin’s need a center and Gasol fits that role beautifully. It’ll set up an interesting Kobe vs. Pau dynamic.

Kobe – Pick 4 – Dirk Nowitzki

Kobe goes with the stretch four option here. It’ll bring a nice dynamic to the team. Nowitzki can play in the post with Dwight or out near the 3pt line to open up driving lanes for Rose. Plus there’s no stopping he’s awkward fallaway. Dirk is secretly one of my top-5 favorite players in the league.

Blake – Pick 5 – Carmelo Anthony

Blake grabs a volume scorer to be the first man off the bench. He can come in at SF and allow LBJ to slide to PF or SG to create some matchup nightmares.

Kobe – Pick 5 – Al Horford

Blake gave Dirk and the Mavs some issues in their second meeting of the season, so they go with Horford who offers more defense than Amare and more athleticism than Duncan. This pick is a bit of a reach in terms of pure talent, but it’s a value pick.

Blake – Pick 6 – Deron Williams

Unfortunately there’s no Paul vs Williams battle. Williams provides size to perhaps bother Rose if he blows by Paul with consistency.

Kobe – Pick 6 – Rajon Rondo

He’s kind of made for All-Star games in the sense of his pass first mentality. When Team Kobe gets a bunch of scorers on the court, they’ll be paired with Rondo who’ll run the offense beautifully.

Blake – Pick 7 – Chris Bosh

The Miami trio are reunited in this scenario. He provides some good jump shooting and is already used to not being the top dog.

Kobe – Pick 7 – Paul Pierce

As much as Kobe would like to play the whole game, he’ll need to be spelled at some point. Pierce can slide over to SG as well as provide some good defense on Lebron. Team Kobe officially changes its name to Team Awkward Fallaways.

Blake – Pick 8 – Ray Allen

The Griffins jump on Ray’s ability to shoot the trey and prevent Allen and Pierce from pairing up again.

Kobe – Pick 8 – Kevin Garnett

The run of Celtics is complete. KG gets picked for defensive ferocity. The pick by need here would be Manu, but Kobe knows that he can sit on him as Blake doesn’t have a need for Manu.

Blake – Pick 9 – Amare Stoudemire

Amare gives team Blake a bit more size down low.

Kobe – Pick 9 – Tim Duncan

Value pick here. Duncan won’t necessarily need to play heavy minutes. Plus, he can take it to the bank.

Blake – Pick 10 – Russell Westbrook

I think the team of athletic freaks needs one more athletic freak.

Kobe – Pick 10 – Manu Ginobili

Kobe cashes in on the Ginobili pick. Can’t afford to wait any longer on him. Plus, he can take it to the bank, too.

Blake – Pick 11 – Kevin Love

Glue guy. Rebounding. Love and Westbrook perhaps get to relive some UCLA magic.

Kobe – Pick 11- Joe Johnson

Size and shooting on the outside…and the only guy left on the board.

So the teams look like this:

Team Kobe Starters:

Dwight Howard, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose

Team Blake Starters:

Pau Gasol, Blake Griffin, Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul

Team Kobe Bench:

Horford, Rondo, Pierce, Garnett, Duncan, Ginobili, Johnson

Team Blake Bench:

Anthony, Williams, Bosh, Allen, Stoudemire, Westbrook, Love

February 10, 2011

Trade-a-palooza: Eastern Conference

by Jeeves

The NBA’s trade deadline is fast approaching. In the next couple weeks, leading up to the 24th, teams positioned for the playoffs will look to strengthen their squads while other teams will try and stockpile assets and rid themselves of salary. I’ve gone ahead and brainstormed some possible trades so check them out below.

A few things to note:

I focused on trades between playoff contenders and non-contenders. It’s hard to come up with a trade where two teams change up their rotations while still trying to make the playoffs. This also means that if I made a trade between a contender and a fringe contender (eg Boston and Indiana) or two fringe contenders I made the assumption one team was gearing up for the stretch run while the other was willing to punt for salary relief/assets. I also only looked at two team trades; I didn’t want to get too fancy. So feel free to dismiss these trades or to propose better ones; I’m all ears. I’ve put *** by the trades I particularly liked.

Celtics

Anthony Parker or Jamario Moon for Marquis Daniels and Semih Erden

The Celtics do not have a lot of assets, so they’re a tough team to work a trade for. One thing that they do need is a back-up SF now that Daniels is out with his spinal cord bruise. The Cavs do this because at this point they are desperate for talent and Erden is fringey enough to take a look at. Plus the Celts and Cavs could do this trade with the understanding that the Cavs buy-out Daniels when he’s healthy and he can then just resign with the Celtics.

***Tracy McGrady and Ben Wallace for Marquis Daniels and Semih Erden

This trade gives the Celtics a little more roster flexibility. They can drop T-Mac in at PG or SF and Wallace gives them another big body to throw at Dwight. The Pistons do this to dump a little salary and pick up Erden. The question is, are the Celtics worried about T-Mac and his inability to advance past the 1st round? Yah, probably not.

James Posey for Jermaine O’Neal and Erden

I would love for this to happen just so we can get O’Neal back on the Pacers and Posey back on the Celtics. I will always associate those two players with those two teams. Again, Boston needs a small forward and it’s possible that management thinks Posey can find the effectiveness he’s lost since leaving Boston. Indy does this for the same reason as the Detroit trade above. Save some cash and get Erden. Plus there’s always the chance that O’Neal is done and his contract gets covered by insurance.

Grant Hill for Marquis Daniels and  Semih Erden

This would be the best trade for the Celtics. If it were to happen, it means that Phoenix could not find a more attractive offer elsewhere. Suns do this to try to get some value (Erden) out of Hill’s expiring contract, and as a way to give him a shot at a title.

Knicks

Nazr Mohammed and Eduardo Najera for Eddy Curry

I’m working this trade from the view point that the Knicks want to do as much damage as possible in this year’s playoffs. To do that, they need to get some size in the middle to help out Amare. Mohammed (and Najera for that matter) provide the size they need. This would preclude them from getting Melo in the off-season since only Mohammed’s contract expires, and therefore a reason why this trade probably wouldn’t happen, but it does make them better in the near term. Najera’s salary also comes off the books in time to go after Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, so that’s a plus. The Bobcats take on extra salary for the end of this season, but then see Curry’s larger salary come off of the books. MJ is trying to save money in Charlotte while also squeezing out a playoff appearance; this trade will achieve the former.

Jeff Foster and Dahntay Jones for Curry

The same reasoning as above can be carried down here, except instead of Najera at power forward you get Jones a shooting guard. He could actually play some back up minutes as nobody behind Fields (on the ESPN depth chart) has a pulse. This move doesn’t do much for Indy except save $2.5 mil next season. Since Indiana is going for the playoffs it probably wouldn’t happen, but remember I’m working under the premise that one team is going for it while the other team in the trade is calling it quits.

***Chris Kaman for Curry

This trade is perhaps the most interesting one that I’ve proposed so far. Kaman (when he gets healthy) provides a massive improvement for the Knicks. His large salary also clears in time for the 2012 free agent class of Paul and Howard. The Clippers on the other hand get a massive expiring which could allow them to enter the Melo sweepstakes if they feel so inclined. Worst comes to worst, Donald Sterling saves some money and we all know he loves doing that.

***Beno Udrih, Samuel Dalembert, Jermaine Taylor for Raymond Felton and Curry

This is kind of a jackpot for New York; let me explain. Beno represents an upgrade (to me) at PG. He shoots a much better percentage and though his assists are low, but I’m sure in D’Antoni’s offense those numbers will go up. Dalembert is an obvious upgrade over Mozgov at center. Dalembert is also a larger expiring contract than Eddy Curry which will give them that much more room for Melo. Beno’s salary plus Taylor’s salary both expire by 2012 and add up to more than Felton’s salary meaning if they whiff on Melo they can try again in 2012. The Kings end of this trade is a bit iffier. New York would have to throw in some sort of pick to make it worthwhile, which means the Kings would get their, I dunno, 2020 draft pick. I guess the fact of the matter is they save money, in terms of salary, this season and next season by doing this trade, which is a bit of a boon as the Maloof’s are in financial trouble.

76ers

Nazr Mohammed and Stephen Jackson for Jason Kapono and Andres Nocioni

While the Sixers have found some success playing a small lineup with Brand at center, they still need the size Mohammed offers when they play some of the larger teams in the league. They could also use an upgrade at SG as they have Jodie Meeks starting. The Bobcats don’t get much in terms of talent in this trade; Kapono has barely played and Noc is a nice effort guy who can swing between the forward positions. It does get them out of Captain Jack’s 3-year contract, which saves them some coin. The 76ers are already fairly tied up with Brand and Iguodala’s contract, so I don’t see picking up Jackson as ruining all that much flexibility. Plus, like I said, I’m looking near term rather than long term.

Bulls

Anthony Morrow for Brian Scalabrine, JJ, Bogans, (pick)

Plain and simple, the Bulls need a SG. It’s sad because Brewer and Korver aren’t terrible, but Thibs for some reason insists on starting Bogans who blows, plain and simple. Unfortunately, the Bulls don’t have much in the way of assets, at least one’s they’d be willing to give up. They need to hold onto Taj as Noah and Boozer haven’t been the picture’s of health in their careers so far. I think the Bulls value Asik more than others, so he doesn’t help. That leaves Bogans (who blows), James Johnson who has a rare blend of athleticism and size though is a project and two picks (their own and a lottery ticket from Charlotte). So in this instance, the Bulls offer their package which helps the Nets clear cap room if they change their minds about Melo. Morrow is the 2-guard with range that the Bulls need.

Courtney Lee and exception for Bogans, JJ, pick

Same story here. The Rockets do this to pick up the pick(s) as they continue to stockpile assets.

OJ Mayo for Scal, Bogans, JJ, (pick)

The Grizzlies just cut bait with Mayo and recoup a pick or two. It’s questionable whether the Bulls would take Mayo with his recent character issues. In the past, Bulls management has been unwilling to do so.

Pacers

Stephen Jackson for James Posey and Brandon Rush

So remember when I said, all these trades help one team in the playoff push and one team in salary relief/assets? Well this is another one of those. The Bobcats get out from that third year on Jackson’s contract and the Pacers get 2 SGs to play around with this year and have Jackson for when Dunleavy’s contract expires (end of this season).

***Ben Gordon and Tayshaun Prince for James Posey, Mike Dunleavy, and Paul George

This trade is exciting, I’m not going to lie. The Pacers now have a nice athletic rotation at SG/SF between Gordon, Prince, and Granger. If that’s too overwhelming, they can also flip Prince’s expiring to fill a greater need. Meanwhile, the Pistons get out from under Gordon’s contract. It would be one thing if he was their starter, but $11 million is too much money for 27 minutes a game. Dunleavy’s contract expires this year so the Pistons aren’t losing out by swapping Prince. As I said they kiss Gordon’s contract goodbye and they get Paul George who I like and think could be a good player.

Antohny Morrow, Travis Outlaw, Damion James, Ben Uzoh for TJ Ford and James Posey

There’s a lot in this trade. Morrow is an upgrade at SG for the Pacers. They perhaps can help Outlaw become productive again. James and Uzoh are just filler. Ford is a nice expiring for New Jersey and Posey’s two year deal is much more palatable than Outlaw’s 5-year deal.

***Leandro Barbosa for Ford

This is an expiring for expiring swap. Ford makes more which gets the Raptors that much more cap room; Barbosa is an upgrade for the Pacers.

Kirk Hinrich for Posey

The Wizards save some money over the next two years, while the Pacers get the better player. Both players contracts expire after next season.

Bucks

***Gerald Wallace and Boris Diaw for Michael Redd

The Bucks aren’t going anywhere anytime soon after all those contracts they handed out, so they might as well go all in to realize their ceiling as a middling playoff team. With that in mind, they trade Michael Redd’s massive expiring contract ($18 million). They get an upgrade at PF in Diaw and have a SG/SF rotation of Maggette, Wallace, and Salmons.

Antawn Jamison, Boobie Gibson, Exception for Michael Redd, Corey Magette

The Bucks get a big upgrade at PF and a nice back up in Gibson. The Cavs save a boatload of money in the near term and get back a player with a pulse. Magette become their best player, instantly and though his contract is 3 years, they end up saving money over that span by trading both Jamison and Gibson.

Troy Murphy and Anthony Morrow for Michael Redd

To be honest, I’m not sure how in love New Jersey is with Morrow which is why I keep including him in these trades, plus, he’s interesting. The Bucks get an upgrade at SG and Murphy may be able to contribute at PF. Murphy’s $11 mil deal is done at the end of the year so they still get some money off the books. The Nets on the other hand get Michael Redd’s Expiring Contract.

Elton Brand and Thad Young for Redd and CDR

Like I said before, the Bucks seem pretty locked in with all the contracts they gave out. This just solidifies them being locked in for the next 3 years. Brand’s fat contract and revived play will hugely upgrade PF, while Thad Young will provide solid rotation play. The Sixers get some breathing room under the cap and CDR because he’s a nice player. The Sixers may be upset about losing Young, but it’s probably worth it to be rid of Brand. His contract feels like a ticking time bomb to me.

Samuel Dalembert and Beno Udrih for Redd

Two upgrades for the Bucks and Redd saves the Kings so much money that the Maloof’s instantly blow half of the savings on a bender in Vegas.

Heat

No assets therefore no trades.

Hawks

Mo Williams for Mike Bibby and Jeff Teague, Mo Evans

The Hawks get an upgrade at the point while the Cavs save some money and get something interesting in the form of Jeff Teague

Magic

They have fat contracts that are basically untradeable, unless someone has a change of heart and desperately want Hedo.

Bobcats

It’s tough to find a trade that makes them better, sorry MJ

The Western Conference will come out in a day or two.

February 2, 2011

Heat Excuses Flow Like Milk and Honey in the Holy Land

by npiller88

As the season wears on, the Miami Heat have given fans of mediocre NBA squads a reason to look forward to the playoffs, if only to root against the new evil empire (think David Stern is happy about that? Yep). But leave it to the Heat to temper the expectations of their, ahem, fans? (wouldn’t want to seem overconfident. After all its not like the organization ever put up a banner that said “Yes We Did” after acquiring the two most outstanding free agents in the 2010 class and parading the “Big Three” around a stage with smoke machines and a light show)

Lebron had this to say in comparing the playoff chops of the Heat to those of more seasoned teams like the Boston Celtics:

“We’re way behind those guys,” Lebron James said following the Heat’s practice on Wednesday. “Just look at the number of games played, the number of playoff series those guys have had. We’re only a few months in together — 40-something-plus games. I’ve seen the statistics. Boston has like 250-plus games played together. We’re way behind those teams.”

It’s as if Lebron wants spectators to hear, “yes we know we are awesome, but we can’t guarantee a championship.” In fact, the heat seem to be displaying pretty solid chemistry so far this year, at least as its reflected in scoring differential (+7.8 points per game, highest in the NBA). And now that it appears Lebron’s bad tweet karma has worn off (the team is 4-1 in the last four games), there doesn’t seem to be a real cause for concern in Miami. Of course, knowing Lebron’s Hindu Guru reputation (thanks, Jeeves), we’ll have to keep our eye on his next few tweets to see if there’s any indication of a sudden dip in performance.

But this strategy of “managing expectations” really gets at the heart of the struggle the Heat will always face. Right at the moment that the franchise decided to go all out with a carnival of arrogance (“Yes We Did,” “Karma’s a Bitch,” etc.), or even earlier, at the moment the team signed James and Bosh, expectations were sky high, and for good reason. I remember saying at the time that anything less than a championship would be seen as a failure by most fans (many of whom will be rooting for MUCH less than a championship for this team). It’s too late to prepare the fans and haters for potential failure, because the Heat invited those high expectations from the beginning. I’m not one of these guys who claims Lebron jeopardized his legacy by joining the super team, but it is true that such high expectations (something he faced to a far lesser extent in Cleveland), are likely to lead to an emotional letdown of some sort.

There is simply no way the heat can justify the hype (and silence the haters) without a championship. But Lebron seems to be trying to find a way to do just that. His quote reads sort of like: “Just so you know, if we lose to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, it won’t be because we’re not as good as they are, just because they’ve played together more.” Maybe he should have saved this for the Eastern Conference Finals. Let the letdown (or uplift, for most fans) commence.

February 2, 2011

The Chicago Bulls: Not Quite Road-Warriors, as of Yet

by Jeeves


The Chicago Bulls have been playing great basketball so far this season. They have compiled the 4th best record in the NBA and are within spitting distance of the top two teams in the East (.5 games back of Miami and 3.0 behind Boston). All this has been done while integrating a handful of new players into a completely new system and juggling the rotation around the absences of Carlos Boozer (18 games missed due to injury) and Joakim Noah (23 games missed due to injury). To say they’ve out done expectations would be an understatement. The pundits, generally speaking had the Bulls pegged as a solid playoff contender, but nowhere near title worthy. Marc Stein, of ESPN, had the Bulls 9th in his Preseason power rankings and Britt Robson, of SI, had the Bulls 12th in his poll. They were viewed as a fringey contender, one that, perhaps, could make a deep run in a year or two.

As the Bulls stand now, they have to be viewed as one of the favorites to come out of the East. They may rank a bit behind Boston and Miami, but they have to be taken at least as seriously as Orlando. I would be zero percent surprised to see the Bulls in the ECF. I would, however, be surprised if they make it that far while maintaining their pedestrian road record. The Bulls home record (3rd best, behind only Boston and San Antonio) buoys their 10-10 road record. It should also be noted that only the Clippers have played fewer road games than the Bulls which can be used to further discount the Bulls’ overall record. This isn’t a horrendous mark, especially considering they didn’t have Boozer during the annual rodeo trip, but it’s not befitting of a title contender. The average NBA Finals team since the year after the lock-out has had a record of 24-17  on the road, with a numerical mode of 27-14.

Derrick Rose and company embark on a 5 game road swing through the Western Conference. Though the team is still not at full strength, it provides an opportunity for the Bulls to at least show that they are legitimate Finals contenders and not just Conference Finals contenders. The Bulls play, in order, at the Clippers, at Golden State, at Portland, at Utah, and at New Orleans. There is not a single back-to-back in that stretch which will aide the Bulls as they try to improve their road mark.

While maximizing their wins on this West Coast swing would obviously be best, I’m most interested to see how they perform against the Jazz and the Hornets. They are two of the better home teams in the league and either game would count in my books as the Bulls second impressive road win of the season. I don’t mean second most impressive; I mean their second impressive, period. The Bulls beat a full strength Mavs team way back on November 11th. Other than that game, their best road win is either their win in Memphis or their win in Phoenix, two teams that are around .500.

These 5-games won’t make or break the Bulls in the public’s eyes; their sparkly 33-14 record takes care of that. This stretch, though, represents their best chance to legitimize their championship aspirations that is, at least, until Noah returns.

January 28, 2011

Lebron James, Hindu Guru

by Jeeves

Perhaps we were a bit too harsh on Lebron.  Maybe, just maybe, we jumped the gun on condemning him. For those of you with short memories, the entirety of the Interwebs got all up in arms over this infamous tweet:

Crazy. Karma is a b****.. Gets you every time. Its not good to wish bad on anybody. God sees everything!

At the time it was assumed that the tweet was a direct response to the thrashing the Cavaliers had received earlier in the night, which I think was, indeed, a fair assumption. Seeing how things have played out in the days since, I think that Lebron may have had an ulterior motive. I think, deep down, he wanted to show us all just how strongly he believed in the tenet of karma. As they say, let’s take a look at the tape.

This is the timeline of James and the Heat since shooting off that tweet on January 11th:

January 12th – Lebron James sprains his ankle in a 105-111 loss to the Clippers

January 13th – Lebron James sits out with his bum ankle as the Heat fall again as they get pummeled by the Nuggets 102-130.

January 15th – Lebron James is on the bench again as the Heat lose a close one to the Bulls 96-99. Chris Bosh is also felled by a sprained ankle.

January 18th – Lebron James returns to action, just in time to lose in overtime to the Hawks 89-93.

January 22nd – Lebron James and the Heat thrash the Raptors 120-103, though Dwyane Wade is felled by a migraine

January 27th – Lebron James and the Heat lose 88-93 in New York

Do you see what has happened here? Since raising the issue of karma, Lebron and the Heat have suffered through 5 losses in 6 games and 2 sprained ankles and 1 massive migraine. I don’t know about you, dear readers, but it is clear to this writer that James whipped up that tweet, not  to spite the Cavaliers, but rather to seize the opportunity to prove the existence of karma. And to that, Lebron. I say, (for perhaps the first and last time) well done!

January 21, 2011

Kobe Recalls Being Booed at Home Once, Feels Melo’s Pain

by npiller88

Melo thinking Pirates??

As I sifted through the fallout from the recent failed trade of Carmelo Anthony to New Jersey, one tidbit caught my eye. When Kobe comments on something, it tends to be pretty be vanilla. But Kobe knows what its like to demand a trade (see the Kobe to Chicago and Kobe to wherever rumors circa 2007-2008). After Melo got booed by the home fans at Denver’s Pepsi Center following a paltry 35 point performance in a five point win over Oklahoma City, Kobe took umbrage at the fans’ reaction. To Kobe, who claims to have only been booed ONCE at home in his entire career (from where I sit in LA, the endless parade of #24 jerseys all over town makes this claim seem quite accurate), the Denver fans better be careful, lest they drive their superstar out of town. Let’s take a closer look at what Kobe had to say, shall we?

It has nothing to do with a bigger market.

Hmm… something is wrong with this statement. Melo’s links to the New York market are well documented, the big one being his wife Lala, a former MTV veejay. She wants New York, and Melo says “ok.” None of the teams mentioned in trade talks have been small market teams, and the two most heavily discussed have been from New York. Another team that has been discussed as a possible destination for Melo is the tiny hamlet of Chicago. A point for Kobe’s line of reasoning? I don’t think so.

It’s about winning.

Kobe might be on to something here. If Melo did indeed nix the Nets trade, then perhaps winning was a consideration for him. I just have my doubts that its his ONLY consideration. If it was, we would be hearing about Melo to the… Nuggets? After all, they are two years removed from a trip to the Western Conference Finals, a series in which they looked pretty close to being elite. With Melo, I peg the Nuggets as about one or two strong complimentary players away from being a championship contender. And this is the guy who, according to Kobe, would surely stay if the situation was right.

If Denver will make the right decisions, bring in the right personnel, then he’ll stick around.

Right about here, I’m guessing Melo wishes Kobe had kept his mouth shut. Let’s recall that 2007-2008 season when Kobe was hinting not too subtly that he wanted a trade. Kobe is trying to compare his situation of a few years ago with the one Melo’s in right now. But Kobe is LA. Try to imagine him elsewhere. It doesn’t work too well. Is Melo Denver? Not really. The point is, it’s much easier to say you’ll stick around if you live in a huge market like LA. Plus, Melo hasn’t really given any indication that he wants to stay in Denver, personnel be damned. Whatever Lala wants, Lala gets.

It’s not rocket science.

Can’t argue with that.

Again, like Lebron before him, the superstar is the victim. Poor Melo, getting booed by the home crowd. Kobe warns the Denver fans that their jeers could make up Melo’s mind for him, so they better keep quiet. That’s kind of like advising a spurned boyfriend to get on his knees and plead with his ex to stay, even after she told him to go fuck himself.

Kobe, please. He wants out. Prove me wrong Melo.