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Why the Miami Heat are not going to win the NBA championship (the Knicks aren’t going to win either)

I was talking with a few of my friends about basketball. A couple were perplexed at the Miami Heat and its mediocre performance. Before you know it, I had written a long e-mail about the NBA and how to win. Here’s the e-mail:

First of all, I think the jury is very much out on the Miami Heat. It is clear that the Miami Heat can beat up lesser teams. It is not clear that they can compete with legitimate contenders. I know I’ve mentioned this before and I know that a couple of my friends and I have discussed this at length but the NBA is a different kind of sport. It is not like golf or tennis or football or even baseball. Basketball is about poetry. It is like jazz. It is about working within a structure while being able to improvise and know what your teammates are going to do on the court. Turnovers, especially in the playoffs, are deadly. Ask Oklahoma, who had an opportunity to beat the Lakers, but just kept turning the ball over down the stretch.

There’s a formula to winning in the NBA (Think Chicago Bulls). If you can get six or seven players to understand their roles, you can be NBA champions. You need to have the superstar. This is the Michael Jordan of your team. He is the one who wants the ball within the last five minutes of a close game. He has to be able to either make a shot or get fouled and make the free throws down the stretch. This is imperative. This is why the Dallas Mavericks have come close but can’t get over the hump. They do not have a superstar who has that one move and scores down the stretch. They have tried to make Dirk the star. He isn’t. He will resort to that fadeaway jump shot when he is pressured. He’s unable to draw a foul. He makes a shot somewhere around 51 – 52% of the time. That is not gonna cut it. You need points 90% of the time when the game slows down within the last 5 min.

The second player that you need is a Scottie Pippen type player. This is an extremely versatile player and probably the hardest player in the NBA to find. This player must have ball handling skills, must be able to crash the back boards and on occasion pour in 20 or 30 points. This guy is like the Energizer Bunny. He’s the one on the floor scrapping for the loose balls.

The third player that you need is the long bomber. This is the guy who was standing at the three point arc and is waiting for the superstar to kick the ball out to him when the defense collapses on the superstar. This guy is key. He has to drain that wide-open three time after time. Usually, this guy is the ballhandling guard but not always. This is one of the positions that San Antonio has had trouble consistently filling. They have had Bruce Bowen, Robert Horry… Filling this position at various times in the last 15 years. Remember that the Chicago Bulls had BJ Armstrong, Ron Harper and Steve Kerr.

You need a rebounding, defensive machine. This guy is the enforcer. He is known for his defense and toughness. This guy has to get 10-15 boards per game. He clears the boards then makes the quick outlet pass to the superstar or ballhandling guard and you’re off to the races.

The Chicago Bulls are the purest example of this formula. The Los Angeles Lakers have used this formula. Even the Miami Heat used this formula when they won their NBA championship several years back.

If there’s one thing that everyone can learn from the Dallas Mavericks, it is that the NBA plays two different seasons. The regular season you can win with wide-open basketball and no defense. If you put five shooters on the floor, you can dominate. Unfortunately, the game changes in the postseason. The game is about defense. The game is about possessions. The game is about scoring when you must. Shooters can run cold. You cannot have a cold spell in the playoffs and expect to win. The Dallas Mavericks, and the Phoenix Suns, have played some of the most wide-open basketball we’ve seen in the last 40 years. Their consistently rank high in their conference and win their divisions. But they also consistently flame out in the playoffs because they ain’t got the formula to win in the playoffs.

This brings me to the Miami Heat. We all know that DeWayne Wade is a superstar in this league. We all know that he can do what is necessary to win. The only question is his durability. He tends to get hurt. Using the formula that I set out above, where does Lebron James fit in? This is key. He can be a Scottie Pippen type player but will he take that subordinate role? So far, the answer is no. Where is Chris Bosh gonna fit in? It would seem to me that he would be the Scottie Pippen type player. This is the problem that the Miami Heat has with their big three. Can they share the roles adequately enough so that they can dominate? Look at the big three in San Antonio. Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. These guys have been playing together for so long that they’ve been able to switch roles from time to time and sometimes in the middle of the game. Sure, Tim Duncan is always the rebounder but he is also the scorer. Sometimes, Tony Parker is the superstar and he gets the ball at the end of the game. It is their ability to continually improvise and switch roles that really makes them a remarkable team.

I don’t have any time to talk about the New York Knicks. I haven’t seen their games. Carmelo Anthony suffers from the Dirk Nowitzki syndrome as far as I can tell. He does not have that one move down the stretch where he can score or get fouled. Amar’e Stoudemire has the same problem. At best, it’s going to take the Knicks a year to learn to play together. I don’t think the New York fans are going to give them a year. Their coach is going to have to be great and great now in order to get his players to play at the level of the fan’s expectations.

My two cents. More tomorrow on how current teams fit into my formula.

By |2011-03-07T07:05:35-04:00March 7th, 2011|Domestic Issues|4 Comments

NFL: Week 4

New York Jets versus Buffalo Bills – The Bills are better than I thought they were. This is good, but it is not good enough to beat the New York Jets. The Jets defense is not quite as good as it was last year but it is plenty stout. As long as the Jets don’t turn the ball over, they should win this one without too much trouble.

Cincinnati Bengals versus Cleveland Browns – Two teams that are really not going anywhere. There were expectations at the beginning of the year for the Cincinnati Bengals, but their offense is anemic and their defense is just okay. Unless Carson Palmer plays better, this team is going nowhere fast. The Cleveland Browns have absolutely no defense. I’m going to side with the Bengals because…

Baltimore Ravens versus Pittsburgh Steelers – In my opinion, this is the game to watch. Both of these defenses are playing well. For the Baltimore Ravens, their All-Star running back Ray Rice is scheduled to return. The Ravens have to figure out a way to move the ball. Actually, the same can be said for the Pittsburgh Steelers. I’m leaning towards the Pittsburgh Steelers because their offense has figured out a way to move the ball and score this season. This should be a great game.

Denver Broncos versus Tennessee Titans – the Tennessee Titans should be able move the ball against the Denver Broncos. Vince Young has a quarterback rating of 97. He’s thrown three touchdown passes and only two interceptions this year. He continues to show promise. Chris Johnson continues to run like the premier back that he is. Tennessee’s defense is solid. I think Tennessee will pick up a few turnovers against the Denver Broncos. I look for Tennessee to win by six or more points.

Detroit Lions versus Green Bay Packers – there is no way that the Detroit Lions can win this game if the Green Bay Packers are really contenders, which I think they are. I think they had an atrocious game on Monday Night Football. Green Bay’s secondary needs to tighten up. I’m not sure what the coaching staff can do but they have to figure out a way to get these guys to play better. I don’t think that Shaun Hill will challenge the Green Bay secondary. I look for Green Bay to try to get a lead early then unveil multiple exotic blitzes which will keep Shaun Hill off-balance. I look for the Green Bay Packers to win this one by 10 or more.

San Francisco 49ers versus Atlanta Falconsthere is complete disarray in San Francisco. The 49ers entered this season with lots of expectations. They have met none of them. Their offense is awful, pitiful, ineffectual and should bring any San Francisco 49ers fan to their knees, crying. They have way too many offensive weapons to be this bad. Mike Singletary has to figure this out or his career as a head coach will be over. The Atlanta Falcons have just come off a major win against the New Orleans Saints. Matt Ryan looked confident. These are two teams going in the opposite direction. If San Francisco can figure out a way to win this game it will be a huge boost to their team but I just don’t see it. I’m picking the Falcons in this one.

Carolina Panthers versus New Orleans Saints – the offense of the New Orleans Saints just hasn’t quite clicked. They don’t have the trouble of the Minnesota Vikings but they’re not producing the big plays that they produced last year. The Carolina Panthers on the other hand are rebuilding on defense and are confused on offense. Where’s their vaunted running game? I look for New Orleans to figure out a way to win this one. (Then again, I said that last week and they lost to the Atlanta Falcons. Maybe if I said it enough, they’d listen.)

Seattle Seahawks versus St. Louis Rams – The Seattle Seahawks continue to surprise me. They are winning. Somehow, the Seattle Seahawks have the number two-ranked defense in the league. The St. Louis Rams continue to rebuild. This game, like most in the NFL, will come down to turnovers. I’m giving a slight edge in this game to the Seattle Seahawks. (more…)

By |2010-10-03T07:00:37-04:00October 3rd, 2010|Sports|2 Comments
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