Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Evaluating Game 3

Thank goodness.  I sat through 3 quarters of last night’s game in a slight funk because of this write up.  What the heck was I going to say?  The Heat kept on doing the same moronic things that had plagued them so far and were a colossal train wreck.  My game 2 evaluation was all but the same as my Game 1, and about all I could mention new was that the Heat finally used a repost with Shaq a couple of times (each time ringing up Diesel points).  Other than that, all I had was a joke about Antoine Walker being forcibly committed to Chuckers Anonymous 20 minutes after the game ended.  

Then the Heat came back.  FANTASTIC!  I have something to write about!  Here’s my take on how Miami finally pulled a 180:
  1. Antoine Walker got yanked.  Riley may have finally figured out how he took away 3 points (on defense or through terrible shot selection) for every one basket he made and pulled him in favor of Posey, allowing…

  2. Dwayne Wade tearing up Dallas.  Dallas has no single defender that can contain Wade, period, and they made a horrible mistake of relaxing their strong help defense.  Wade found a rhythm and lanes to slash through, once again looking like the terror he was all season.

  3. Déjà vu; namely, Dirk completely re-living his 4th quarter from game 6 of the Spurs series.  Everything was the same – the swagger evaporated, his face became as blank as paper, and he disappeared, taking the team’s moxy with him.  A look at his 4th quarter:
Missed close-range jumper
Makes a layup
Makes a jumper
Makes a layup (8-minute mark, enter the clutch stretch)
(Wade catches fire)
Misses 18-footer (4-minute mark)
Offensive foul
Loose ball foul (3-minute mark)
Hits 2 free throws (next possession)
(Miami takes lead)
NOTHING from Dirk until the final 3 seconds, when he misses the critical free throw  

When the game turned, Dirk went poof.  No two ways about it.  Now again, this is almost exactly the same way Dallas choked away a similar lead and lost to the Spurs in game 6, and Dirk responded in a very big way to put away the series.  I would have to think that he could do so again, seeing as he started to get into a comfort zone in the first three quarters last night.  Watch for him to perhaps ring up his first 30- or 40-point night of the series when it resumes.  

Can the Heat build on this?  Well, Dwayne Wade certainly looked sharper than he has since suffering a flu and may have renewed confidence in his ability to tear apart Dallas’ defense.  If Riley keeps Walker off the court and spares the team the head-shaking 13 misses a game he’s been averaging, the Heat can better focus on their two real scoring options.  More re-posting with Shaq in the early quarters still needs to take place, as he simply runs out of gas in the second, fumbling away half the entry passes that reach him.  In the end, however, I don’t think it well happen.  This team is now falling victim to the flaws of its make-up: a cast of role players that were almost all once main guys on offense.  Among Payton, Williams, Walker, and Mourning, none show the same enthusiasm, grit, and willingness to bleed on the court that the Mavericks do.  Only Haslem comes close.  If James Posey was still his do-everything Denver self, he’d be a match for Josh Howard, but he pawned off his heart during his Memphis stay (coincidentally, this was when he befriended Bonzi Wells).  Pat Riley is going to have to continue choking on the dry bread he put on Miami’s plate.


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