Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Post-Game Playoff Marks - Nets Game One

Courtesy: Fox Sports
Heat win 107-86.. Lead series 1-0.

LeBron James -- 22 pts, 5 reb, 3 ast -- B+
On a night when Kevin Durant received the MVP trophy, Lebron showed the world who the best player is.  The stat line wasn't as impressive as usual, but James's fingerprints were all over this one.  He worked on the low block a lot tonight facilitating and scoring efficiently.  He saw four different defenders in the first quarter alone, but the Nets could not find an answer for him.  Lebron is playing with extreme confidence, and looks to be ready for another deep championship run.

Dwyane Wade -- 14 pts, 4 reb, 5 ast -- B
After scooping up the ball and going high off glass for a fastbreak bucket, Wade got up and the look on his face said it all.  He was coasting through this one, toying with the Nets all night long.  Wade becomes the alpha-male when Lebron goes to the bench to start the second quarter and its where he thrives.  If he can continue to produce in that short span of the game, it will give the Heat an extra boost.

Chris Bosh -- 15 pts, 11 reb, 3 ast -- B
Much like Lebron, Bosh's stat line didn't reflect his true contribution to the game.  He was aggressive offensively which always bodes well for the Heat.  He came alive in the third quarter knocking down his shot from outside and getting to the basket.

The Sweet Taste of Revenge -- B
After being swept by the Nets in the regular season, the Heat got the first taste of revenge in this one proving that they are the dominate team in this series.  The "Big 3" for the Heat didn't have a spectacular performance so look for them to improve in the next few games.  This was the appetizer in what looks to be a pretty big feast for the defending champs.

Miami Heat -- A-
Coach Spo made adjustments before the series even started as he placed Shane Battier in the starting lineup to guard Joe Johnson.  As a member of the Dallas Mavericks, coach Jason Kidd was last to beat the Heat in a playoff series.  Early on, the Nets offense showed signs of that Mavs team.  The ball movement was quick and crisp, but the Heat's rotations were also quick.  They used an unusual balanced scoring night and a 33-23 third quarter to put the Nets away.  Ray Allen scored 19 points, knocking down four three-pointers.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Heat vs. Nets - Round Two Series Preview

Courtesy: upi.com
Round Two starts tomorrow at the Triple A.  There's been much speculation that the Heat could be in some trouble as they were swept by the Nets in the regular season.  The Heat (in regulation) lost those four games by a combined three points.  There will be no nicknames on the back of jerseys in this series and I'm predicting there will be no trouble for the Heat.  My prediction: Heat in 5.

After sweeping the Bobcats, the Heat haven't played a game in over a week.  Last year's Rust vs. Rest matchup went to the Rust as the Heat dropped the first game to the Chicago Bulls.  However, the Heat went on to win four straight to advance to the ECF.  Don't expect the Heat to come out rusty tomorrow night.  They have something to prove against the Nets.  The Heat have used these days off to get healthy and to get better.

We had a glimpse in the first round at what a healthy Dwyane Wade could mean to the Heat.  He wasn't needed as Lebron dominated, but Coach Spoelstra wasn't willing to push Wade just yet.  He averaged just 33 minutes a game in the first round.  However, Wade did average 17.5 points on 49% shooting.  Look for Vintage Wade to break out in this series as he individually has something to prove.

After the first round who's leading the playoffs in scoring?  It's "The King" Lebron James.  Lebron averaged 30 points 8 rebounds and 6 assists in the first round.  He also showed off his defensive talent ranking fourth in steals at 2.25 a game.  If James continues to produce at this level, there's no telling how far the Heat will go.  As Kevin Durant will likely accept his MVP trophy later this week, Lebron will be showing the world that he's the best player in this league.

During Game 7 of the Thunder-Grizzlies, the commentator said, "Kevin Durant needs to use his 3-point shot as a curve ball and use his mid-range game as his fastball."  I agree that Chris Bosh should do the same.  He's proven throughout his career that he can stroke the mid-range jumper as well as drive the close out after a pump fake.  Bosh is shooting an outstanding 69% from downtown in the playoffs, but I think he can be more effective facing up in the post rather than roaming the 3-point line while the Heat will go small to matchup with the Nets.

If the Heat want to make a serious run at a title, they will need to continue to get a significant impact from the role players.  Birdman was outstanding in the first round.  I believe the bench can take on the "Mike Miller" role by committee.  One night Ray Allen could catch fire and the next it could be James Jones.  The Heat look to roll into the ECF as the Western Conference continues to wear each other down.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Post-game Playoff Marks - Bobcats Game Four

Courtesy: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Heat win 109-98.. Win series 4-0.

LeBron James -- 31 pts, 7 reb, 9 ast -- A
LeBron opened up this game showing the world his basketball IQ.  He started by drawing two fouls while shooting three-point shots and proceeded to make 5-of-6 free throws.  The rest of the first half wasn't super aggressive for James.  He finished the half with 11 points and was fourth on the team in field goal attempts behind Wade, Bosh, and Chalmers.  Heat Nation started sweating when LeBron went down during the third quarter with what appeared at first to be a serious knee injury.  James returned to the game and shortly caught fire.  He knocked down a three, hit a long two, and dunked one on the break.  He scored 9 straight points for the Heat after the injury.

Dwyane Wade -- 15 pts, 3 reb, 2 ast -- C
It looked like it was going to be another strong game for Wade in this one.  He was aggressive early, getting to the rim, drawing contact, and getting to the free throw line.  However, as LeBron took over during the 2nd half Wade took a backseat as he picked up some quick fouls that sent him to the bench.  Wade put in a mediocre performance as the Heat cruised to Round 2.

Chris Bosh -- 17 pts, 8 reb, 3 ast -- B
I love when CB sets the tone early as he did in this game.  He drew an and-one and hit a floater in the lane in the opening minutes.  He played a very efficient game shooting 7-for-12.  Like Wade, Bosh took a backseat in the second half as "The King" reigned over the Bobcats.  Except for knocking down two late jumpshots, Bosh was pretty much invisible in the second half.  He tends to float from time-to-time, but I think it's necessary when LeBron has it going.

A Little R&R -- A+
As the Heat have just swept the Bobcats, 5 of the 7 remaining series are already guaranteed to go six games.  The Heat will get some much needed rest as the rest of the teams in the East will be expending energy.  This gives time to work out any nagging injuries that Wade, James, and Chalmers might have.  

Miami Heat -- B+
Where was the defense in the first half?  The Heat allowed 54 points on near 50 percent shooting for the Bobcats and for the third time in four games the Heat played sub par defense in the first half.  There was no answer for Kemba Walker who scored 10 of the Bobcats first 12 points as the Bobcats searched for offense with Al Jefferson out.  The Big 3 scored 18 of the first 21 points.  After a close first half, the Heat outscored the Bobcats 32-17 in the 3rd.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Post-game Playoff Marks - Bobcats Game Two

Courtesy: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Heat win 101-97. Lead series 2-0.
LeBron James -- 32 pts, 6 reb, 8 ast -- A-
LeBron started this game out strong, hitting a step-back jumper over MKG and taking a charge in the first few minutes.  The reigning MVP was feeling it early as he scored 12 points in the first quarter.  He was active on the defensive side of the ball as he picked up 4 steals.  All-in-all it was a lebron-esque game for the best player on the planet.  He channeled his inner Magic Johnson picking up 8 assists and also a few "hockey" assists.

Dwyane Wade -- 15 pts, 6 reb, 2 ast -- C+
For the first three quarters, I thought Chris Bosh and Dwyane might have switched bodies from Game One to Game Two.  D-Wade started this one sloppy turning the ball over twice in the first few minutes.  Rachel Nichols quoted Wade saying, "I've felt the best I've felt going into the playoffs in years." It was evident starting the fourth quarter.  Wade caught fire and provided a spark taking on his role as closer.

Chris Bosh -- 20 pts, 5 reb, 0 ast -- B+
It looked like it might be another dud for Bosh early in this game as he picked up two early fouls.  He regrouped and opened up the second quarter with a layup and three pointer to increase the Heat lead to 13.  He went on to score 5 more in the second putting his halftime total at 10.  He shot the ball efficiently and looked like the Bosh of old.  He knocked down 4 three-pointers and shot 8-of-11 from the field.

Supporting Cast -- A
The supporting cast showed why the Heat can be considered one of the deepest teams in the playoffs.  Mario Chalmers scored 9 of the Heat's first 11 points.  Birdman threw down a monstrous dunk at the end of the first quarter and pounded a Bobcat layup off the glass near the end of the third.  Birdman could be the most important pickup for the Heat over the last two seasons.  James Jones got more minutes after an impressive showing in game one and he knocked down the first three he took.  Ray Allen finally scored in the series hitting a running jumpshot with two minutes to go in the third.

Miami Heat -- B
It was a tale of two halves in Game Two for the Heat.  During the first half the championship defense was on display.  The Heat made quick rotations and forced 12 turnovers in the first half turning them into 18 pts.  However, during this series the Heat continuously jump out to big leads, but they continuously give them up.  At the end of the third quarter Coach Spo preached consistency.  The defense only forced 3 more turnovers in the second half only turned them into 4 points.  The Heat dodged a bullet as they head to Charlotte up 2-0.  

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Post-game Playoff Marks - Bobcats Game One

Courtesy: Issac Baldizon/NBAE
Heat win 99-88. Lead series 1-0.
LeBron James -- 29 pts, 9 reb, 1 ast -- B+
The King got to work early by being aggressive and attacking the basket.  After scoring 61 last time out against the Bobcats, MKG made it a little tougher on Lebron this time around.  It was no 61 point performance, but it was an all-around good game for Lebron.  After halftime, he started to settle for jumpers, and when he did drive he forced some questionable shots.  He shot well from beyond the arc knocking down four three-pointers.

Dwyane Wade -- 23 pts, 1 reb, 5 ast -- A
W.o.W., No really, WOW.  You know it's a good day when Dwyane Wade knocks down a three-pointer.  Wade looked healthy and spry cutting to the basket and defending well.  He played very sharp and was very efficient shooting 10-of-16 from the field.  A healthy Dwyane Wade could be huge for this playoff run.  Playoff opponents beware.

Chris Bosh -- 13 pts, 4 reb, 0 ast -- C-
Bosh was invisible for much of the first half as he didn't score until there were four minutes left in the second quarter.  He attempted to put the Charlotte Bobcats on his latest poster but his dunk attempt clanked off the rim.  He knocked down two three's, but his midrange game wasn't working.  However, when he realized his shot wasn't falling, he did attack the basket and get to the line.

Point Guard Play -- 14 pts, 4 reb, 4 ast -- B+
Norris Cole was off the snide, at least for this game.  He attacked the basket and was knocking down jumpshots.  Mario Chalmers did terrific driving the lane and either scoring or dishing the ball back outside.  When Chalmers is aggresive, the offense looks very good with the ball moving quickly.

Miami Heat -- B
The defense was stuck in regular season mode during the first quarter.  There really hasn't been an answer for Al Jefferson besides him getting injured.  The Heat's defense wasn't necessarily good after the first quarter, the Bobcats offense was just that bad.  It's nice to see James Jones getting quality minutes as he is one of the best shooters in the league.  Today is the first time I've seen him even miss a three-pointer in a game.  Birdman played well flying around and making plays.  He really impacted the game posting the highest plus-minus of anyone on the team (+28).

Courtesy: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE
Chris Douglas-Roberts Hair -- F-
As the Bobcats have not been on national TV in over 2 years, I have not been afforded the opportunity to see CDR's latest look.  It looks like someone cut the end off of a mop and set it on his head and he has to part it down the middle cause he can't see.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Heat overtake Pacers for top spot

Courtesy: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE
Monday night after beating the Raptors 93-83 in Miami, the Heat learned that they have passed percentage points ahead of the Pacers for 1st place in the East.  Beating Toronto was significant for the Heat.  The loss for Toronto means that they are now tied with the Bulls for the 3rd seed in the East.  It's not a necessity to avoid Chicago in the 2nd round, but it would be propitious.  Chicago is a much more physical team and it would be beneficial to have less fatigue going into the Conference Finals.

Things are looking up for the defending champions having won three straight games after dropping Wednesday night's nail biter to the Pacers.  I was impressed with the Heat and was very surprised that we lost the game.  We controlled the entire game except for the 1st quarter and the last five minutes of the 4th.   Advice for Coach Spo: Put UD on Hibbert!  The final regular season showdown between the Pacers and Heat will be next Friday, April 11.

If the Pacers continue to struggle, you could almost pencil in the Heat to the NBA Finals before the playoffs even begin.  The Heat have been able to take advantage of the soft schedule lately to rest some key players: Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers, and Ray Allen.  If the Heat can clinch the East with a win versus the Pacers next Friday, they could give the rotation players a week off before the playoff begin and essentially use the first round to get back in sync.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Importance of the One Seed

Courtesy: espn.com
The HEAT are back! Maybe.  They did take a big step in the right direction Monday night by beating Portland at home, but I think the struggles will continue as long as the in's and out's occurring in the lineup continue.  It's hard to establish continuity with the rotation changing on a nightly basis.  Haven't we seen this before? Remember the last time our stars were used to playing without each other? It was back when they were all on separate teams.  And that took more than a year to fix those chemistry issues.  We need to right the ship, and we need to right it fast.  The Bulls are coming for the 3 seed and it'd be better if we didn't play them in the 2nd round.  The #1 seed is very important to the HEAT.  More important than it ever has been, because we cannot afford to be beat up by Chicago in the 2nd round AND then Indiana in the ECF and expect to compete in the Finals.