Tag Archives: Miami Heat

Meanwhile, in Another Dimension… The Heat Lost

Image

This image, courtesy of Deadspin, is a screen capture of the footage the local ABC affiliate in Miami was airing just after Game 7 of the NBA Finals. As you can clearly see, the graphic on the screen says that the Miami Heat lost the game. They did not. Instead they won their second consecutive NBA Championship.

Maybe, however, this was a feed from another dimension, a multiverse even. One where Christopher Bosh must battle the forces of evil. Could this explain the errant graphic on the screen?

Nah. They just gone and messed up. First the fans doubted the Heat in Game 6 as they bounced out of the AAA early and now a local television station outright says they lose. There’s a reason Miami isn’t considered a town with loyal fans. Way to prove that point once again.

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Miami Heat Poised to Win Championship

One more

Doyle Rader: With the Miami Heat one win away from their second ever NBA title, now is as good a time as any for us to talk about the Finals. Last night, the Thunder, namely Russell Westbrook, threw everything they had at the Heat in an attempt to tie the series but came up just short as they have in every game since Game 1. Plenty of people are singling out Westbrook for the foul he committed on Mario Chalmers with 15 seconds left in the game as the moment the Thunder lost the game. (They were down three points at that time.) Yet, this is a complete overreaction to the play in my opinion. If it wasn’t for Westbrook in the first place the Thunder would have likely not even been in this game. He poured in 43 points on 20 made field goals. Everything was falling for him last night. It was a performance on par with what Rajon Rondo did against the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. During the presser LeBron James even likened those two performances to each other. It seems to me that a new narrative (it isn’t that new actually) is forming around Westbrook, scapegoating him, doubting him, much in the same ilk that James has dealt with throughout his career. However, James is on the cusp of shattering his previous narrative and the baggage that came with it.

Travis Huse: If we’re looking at problems here, it’s not Westy. Harden went
2-10 last night and finished with 8 points, and here’s the part where I tell
you that he was still third in the Thunder’s point totals. They managed to
beat the Spurs with an effective team play atmosphere, and they’ve lost the
contributions from Harden and Serge Ibaka. Smart team play can defeat Miami, but pitting a “Big 2” against a “Big 3” is suicide.

Casual basketball fans tend to place much more emphasis on offense than
defense, and that’s the population most affected by Anti-Westbrook Fever.
But you can’t overlook how the Heat have been able to control the tempo of
the game, and Harden looks thrown off. He was 2-10 on Sunday, as well, held
to only 9 points. If he wants the label of next-generation Manu Ginobili, he
needs to step up better now, where it really matters.

DR: You’re right, Harden has been bad, but it isn’t just his shooting. For
some reason, and there has been much to talk about concerning Scott Brooks’
rotations, Brooks insists on having Harden defend James for extended periods
of time. I know that James is a player that is difficult to defend on every
level but this simply is not where Harden should be utilized on the
defensive end. Time and again, James will just post him up since he is
bigger and stronger and the results have been devastating.

Zach Lowe over at SI.com touched on that today. By his tally, Miami scored 24 point on James post-ups. The points did not all come from LeBron as he was able to hit open teammates when double teams came his way. He finished the game with 12 assists. How can anyone stop him at this point, let alone an undersized player known more for his offense?

It’s not just Harden, though, you are correct in pointing out Ibaka’s
dramatic fall-off but Kendrick Perkins has been equally awful. He is the
wrench in the gears. Nick Collison showed flashes of brilliance against the
Heat in Game 4 but then vanished. Poof! Scott Brooks is showing us his
inexperience with these stubborn, and at times haphazard, lineups that he
has been throwing out there.

Last year Rick Carlisle showed his flexibility by inserting J.J. Barea into
the starting lineup to wondrous results for Dallas as they went on to win
the championship. Erik Spoelstra was left in the dust scratching his head as
he stuck with Mike Bibby in the starting lineup for too long. Now, Spoelstra
is in command and his small center-less lineups are rendering OKC’s bigs
completely useless.

TH: To be very honest, one of the biggest hindrances in Lebron’s career has
been his unwillingness to post up. He used to be very prone to jacking Josh
Smith-type 3s, so much so that every time I play against him (Miami or
Cleveland) on the 2K games, I will sag off him and make him shoot it. I
might have to change my approach with the next one. And it makes sense that
their success has revolved around his post play, because the dude is the
biggest, strongest, most athletic person that might have ever existed. The
Thunder don’t have anyone who’s going to be able to defend him without
leaving a glaring mismatch. I’m not sure anyone in the league does, and
that’s why the Heat are one win away from the championship.

They’re a stronger team than last year, and they’ve found a way for both
Lebron and Dwyane Wade to play together. Right now their bench is outplaying the Thunder bench. I don’t see any way the Thunder make it as champs, and you’re right, Spo is out-coaching Brooks. Unless something drastic changes, the Heat seem to be poised to close this one out sooner rather than later.

DR: After the body language that Durant showed last night in the post game
presser this series could wrap up Thursday night. During that presser we
witnessed the return of Durant’s backpack, which had been MIA all
postseason. It too was just as sad an dejected as Durant as he let it fall
to the floor, shoulders slumped. It reminded me of the Western Conference
Finals last year. There were many a sad backpacks to be found in that
series.

Here’s the thing though, as I am not a true fan of either of the teams in the Finals, just a fan of the game, I have slowly come to view the post game presser as must-see throughout these playoffs. Sure, the questions are generally fluff, verging on inane at times, but I find them to be truly interesting.

Chris Bosh, who has been great this series, gives one of the best presser
interviews there are. Honestly, if more people heard him speak, instead of
instantly buying into the “Like a Bosh” or “Bosh Face” trope, they would see
just how smart, composed, and well spoken he is.

But of course the presser is all about the clothes. Man, these players
(Westbrook) wear some silly expensive shit. That said, Wade won the presser
clothes game last night when he came out wearing glasses that were straight
off the face of Dwayne Wayne from Different World.

TH: I’ve never really understood why Bosh gets so much shit. He’s a consistent 20-10 player, a perennial all star, who stretches the floor very well. His outside touch does wonders for the sometimes-anemic Heat offense, exposing the rim for the slashing of the other two stars.

It has become so commonplace to make fun of the Heat, that the worst thing I could think of has happened. I have moved past resenting them, past feeling sorry for them, into rooting for them as an underdog. Obviously, they are not the underdog, but I now feel that I have to throw stats in the faces of anyone who harps in on how much they hate the Heat.

DR: I found myself in the same place as the Finals started this year. For various and extremely biased reasons I cannot bring myself to root for the Thunder organization so that left me with only one choice. I have James many times on this blog, taking both a negative and positive view of him and his game. Seeing all the backlash towards one of the greatest players the league has ever seen has continually shocked me, though. Sure he, and the Heat have made some questionable choices in the past but does that really outweigh what goes on in a game? Miami is the most scrutinized team in sports and it is simply ludicrous to hear some of the things said about them.

The Heat deserve to win the championship this year, if for no other reason that silence the doubters who continually lob volley after volley of asinine rhetoric interspersed with buzz words at them all the while refusing to make sound judgments and arguments. At this point, if winning a championship is the only way to get it through the thick skull of some people that James is good and so are the Heat then so be it. They shall be vindicated.

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Young Miami Heat Fan to Team: “Good Job! Good Effort!”

There wasn’t much to cheer about in Miami (of course cheering loudly just doesn’t seem to be a thing at Heat games, but that is another issue) as the Heat fell to the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals 94-90. Both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade had good games, James scoring 30 points and pulling down 13 rebounds with Wade chipping in 27 points. But at times, the effort just didn’t seem to be there.

The Heat were sluggish in transition defense and didn’t hustle after the 50/50 balls with the energy of a team playing to go up a game in a series that had become a best of three. Obviously, these are the plays the national media will pick up on which will fuel the choke meme’s that are already rampant across the internet and social media. Yet, all of that might not hit home as hard as what one fan had to say to the Heat as they sullenly retreated down the tunnel to the locker room after the final buzzer had sounded.

Many people who played sports as children remember shaking the other team’s hands after every game, win or lose, and issuing platitudes to the opposing players. Since what was said was generally insincere, it was especially biting to hear after a loss. One young Miami Heat fan must have either felt the scorn of a recent loss or just has an impeccable sense of irony.

While the Heat walked off the court, the kid can be heard yelling, “Good job. Good effort!” That is cold-blooded. Perhaps, though, he was being sincere. After all he is just a kid and couldn’t possibly be as jaded as an adult, right? Whatever his intentions (I imagine some media outlet will track him down sooner or later) he has quickly become a meme. Since the internet travels at the speed of cynicism a Twitter account, @goodjobkid, has cropped up as well as merchandise with his now infamous quotes.

Well done, kid. You have trolled us all.

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Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics Eastern Conference Finals Preview

Intimidated yet?

Doyle Rader: We finally know who will compete in the Eastern Conference Finals, however, when Derrick Rose went down in the first round this match up was all but inevitable. The Boston Celtics finally defeated a Sixers team that Doc Rivers described as “a pain in the ass.” Now they will face the Miami Heat who, despite the loss of Chris Bosh in their series against the Indiana Pacers, look every bit as dominant as the team that moved on to the Finals last season. When it comes to this series, the regular season meetings mean nothing. Boston owned the regular season series between the two clubs for the last two years but has only mustered one win against the Heat in the playoffs during that time. What are the keys for both teams in this series?

Travis Huse: The absence of Chris Bosh. The Heat is left with only two big names on their roster, and they need another offensive threat. Bosh’s outside game also would help to bring Kevin Garnett out of the middle, freeing up space for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. For Boston, they need some monster performances from Ray Allen, as LeBron’s defense can be otherworldly on Paul Pierce. Rajon Rondo‘s consistent ability to have triple-doubles in playoff games will be tested here, as well. I think it’s interesting that we have the two scariest defensive teams vying for the East, while in the West it’s a shoot-out.

DR: Missing Bosh could pose a problem but at the same time it could open up an emphasis on the transition game for Miami. When this team gets out running it the open court it is game over: Flying Death Machine.

As for Garnett, his defense will of course be a factor but his offense is what could hurt his team. He is a spot up midrange jump shooter off the pick and is effective at little else, especially if he has to put the ball on the floor. Yes, Garnett can still post up but is so predictable in the post, Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm pointed out that he posts up on the left block 60 percent of the time, goes to his right shoulder 40 percent of the time, and shoots a jumper 86 percent of the time from the block. That is the definition of predictability. However, it will be interesting to see who guards him. I imagine that the Heat will throw Udonis Haslem, Ronny Turiaf, Joel Anthony, and even Shane Battier, who could draw the bulk of the defensive assignment.

I’m just not sure that Jesus Shuttlesworth has anything left in the tank. He has looked terrible during playoffs and he has to still be hurt. If he can shake off the rust and put it together offensively he will have to contend with Dwyane Wade. Wade has been phenomenal on defense, as per usual, and will harass Allen all over the court.

In the postgame show after the Heat knocked out the Pacers, Jeff Van Gundy, who saved the program from its usual absurdist rhetoric, stated that this series will hinge on the play of Rondo and his ability to shutdown or limit Mario Chalmers and pace the Celtics. I have felt for two years now that this is Rondo’s team and this series will further fuel this idea. For the Celtics to find success if will be on the back of Rondo and let’s hope he keeps rocking those Nike Huarache Basketball 2012’s in the Volt colorway.

TH: This is definitely Rondo’s team, which makes the rest of the Celtics his weapons. His lack of a jump shot is rendered useless when he is able to work Brandon Bass into the equation. As a Mavs fan, you can’t look at Bass this postseason and grimace.

DR: Bass is playing strong and has played the fourth most minutes for the Celtics in the postseason thus far and is totaling 11.7 points per game. On a team that struggles to rebound the ball, Bass collects 5.1 boards. He is the fourth best player on the Celtics. If the Heat can neutralize him the Celtics will be in trouble.

Flash got style

What really hurts the Celtics is the loss of Avery Bradley. When he and Rondo were paired in the backcourt together their defensive numbers were amazing. In terms of slowing Wade, missing Bradley is huge. Keyon Dooling and Mickael Pietrus have their work cut out for them. Oh, or maybe they’ll make me happy and we’ll get to see a little Marquis Daniels on the floor.

TH: Well, as of now, they’re real thin at SG. That lends itself to more minutes for Daniels, so we’re probably in luck. He’s going to be stretched to the hilt against Wade, but we already know Doc Rivers has groomed him for this situation all year. That’s the kind of thing he does, socking away money in Staples Center. This team is so well coached that they can weather these injuries as well as any other NBA team. There are just so many variables on this Celtics team, and the outcome of each game defined by so many questionable players, it’s very hard to predict. The Heat is full of shaky players, as well, but the strength of Wade and James makes them so much more stable.

DR: Daniels usually plays the three, unless Don Nelson appears and tries to make him run point (ahh, the memories), but if Doc gets desperate Daniels could definitely get spot minutes against Wade. Indiana was a better team than the Celtics and they could not slow down the Wade and James tandem. Frank Vogel said it best, “Chris Bosh is a fantastic player, but when he goes down, that means more touches for LeBron and Wade.” Those touches ignited the Heat and propelled them to three consecutive wins. The Death Machine found its wings. However, we must wait to see if those wings are fashioned by Daedalus and whether the Heat chooses to fly too close to the sun.

That said, the Heat will win this series 4-2. Hopefully, they won’t imitate last season’s celebration when they win.

TH: After what I saw in the Heat-Pacers series, I’m going to go Celtics in 7. It goes against my head, but let me explain. The best way to beat Miami is to get them rattled, and if the Celtics manage to rattle one of the Heat’s two stars for three games, they have a chance. If there’s any team that hypes its strangeness, it’s Boston. These guys are WEIRDOS. I’m thinking the Eastern Conference Finals might strongly resemble when Will Smith smacked the reporter for kissing him. KG should probably kiss LeBron right before tip-off in game 1. I wouldn’t put it past him.

But in all seriousness, with a long series, Doc could seriously dismantle this squad. I’m probably going to lose this one, but that’s what I’m sticking with. Celtics in 7.

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Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks First Round Prediction

Melo ISO, we will see that a lot

If there wasn’t some drama hog who lived in Orlando, this season’s headlines would have focused squarely on the tumultuous, and miraculous, year that the Knicks have had. They signed Tyson Chandler, they have been good, then bad, then terrible, then Linsanity struck, then Mike D’Antoni stepped down as the head coach before he could be fired, then Mike Woodson took over as head coach, then they signed J.R. Smith, then Jeremy Lin got hurt, then Carmelo Anthony played is ass off (he still is), then Amare Stoudemire came back from injury and that brings us to the present. Phew!

Now, the Knicks enter the playoffs as the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference and are playing some of their best ball of the season thanks in large part to Anthony’s incredible play over the last couple of weeks. With the injury to Stoudemire, Anthony shifted to power forward and has excelled. His shooting range has drawn larger defenders away from the paint, freeing up passing and cutting lanes. When he has a smaller defender on him he has the ability to post them up or shoot over them. On the defensive end of the floor he is actually trying, and not just sort of trying, trying as hard as he can fronting larger players, swiping at the ball and hounding players of comparable size. This is a Melo we have never seen. This is the Melo that the Knicks traded half of their roster for.

Yes, the Knicks are back in a big way, so much so that Steve Novak celebrating with his discount double check move does not seem ludicrous. This is a team, that despite their myriad of injuries has persevered and one courageous storyline has superseded the previous one has it fell by the wayside. These Knicks just won’t die. Now they will face their next daunting challenge, only this one does not come from within the organization.

The Miami Heat are title favorites. They lost in the Finals last season and still carry that burden and bitter taste with them. Yet, they enter the postseason seeming uninterested. Miami sleepwalked through the second half of the season, resting various parts of their big three. During that span they rarely beat a team with a record over .500. It was as if they were just biding their time, knowing that they were assured of a playoff berth.

Despite their lackadaisical attitude after they All Star break, the Heat enter the playoffs as a second seed and are still one of the most feared teams in all of basketball because of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh. They have some tertiary players as well, Shane Battier, Mario Chalmers, and Udonis Haslem lead that bunch, but when it comes to the Heat, it is about their big three. It will be curious to see if they do have that switch that they can turn on to return to their demonstrative, Flying Death Machine form. They act as though they are about to flip that switch, but is it that easy?

Miami will challenge the Knicks’ defense at the rim, namely Chandler, with their athleticism and slashing. It will behoove them to get Chandler into foul trouble early because not only is he the anchor of New York’s defense, but he is also a superb rebounder and the Heat are terribly undersized. If Chandler does get onto early foul trouble often it will allow Miami to open up their spacing on the offensive end where they can effectively use Bosh in the high post and elbow to set screens and pick and roll or pop opportunities.

Frankly, Chandler will be in foul trouble, that’s just what he does. However, the Knicks work better with a smaller lineup. It allows them to get their 3-point shooter on the floor creating isolation situations for Anthony and Stoudemire. If a double comes, they can kick the ball out and their teammates can swing it around the perimeter for an open look. There will be several moments during this series where Novak is left open, though he should never be, and he will drain an important three.

As much as they would like to, the Knicks’ starters do not match up well with those of the Heat. Their bench will be the key to keeping the games close. Miami’s ball movement stagnates when their bench is on the floor which is why Erick Spolstra likes to keep one or two of his stars on the floor with his bench unit. The bench is the advantage for the Knicks, however it would be disastrous to rely on them for significant periods of time against the fourth best defense in the NBA.

It may take a game or two, depending on Wade’s injured finger, but the Flying Death Machine should return to form and terrorize the league once more. New York will try and run but the Heat, despite their sixteenth rank pace of 91.2 are some of the best in the open floor.

It was fun, New York.

Doyle Rader predicts: Heat defeat the Knicks 4-1

Travis Huse predicts: Heat defeat the Knicks 4-2

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Ribeye to Eye: The Eastern Conference Playoff Picture

Even the East is juicy this year

Doyle Rader and Travis Huse discuss the NBA’s Eastern Conference, namely the playoff situation (what do you think of this segment’s tentative name?):

DR: Before we get rolling on how we feel the Eastern Conference playoffs will look, I want to address something that I saw last night. Now, I didn’t watch this game, I feel sorry for anyone that did, but I kept an eye on the score throughout the night because, well, I simply didn’t believe what I was seeing. The Detroit Pistons demolished the Cleveland Cavaliers 116 – 77. Now, the 77 points that Cleveland scored are deceiving. On the surface it appears to be a respectable, albeit low, total. It most certainly was not. At the end of three quarters the Pistons were up 100 – 50. Yes, they had a 50 point lead. 50 points! My God! This is the NBA. I know that there is a very vague level of parity that exists in the league, although it often cannot be found on a nightly basis, but what an embarrassment. At least the Bobcats weren’t the worst team in the NBA for one night.

OK, had to get that off my chest. What do you think about the Eastern Conference playoff picture?

TH: I don’t even know how you let the Pistons drop 100 on you. In the middle quarters, the Pistons scored 71. The Cavs only scored 6 more points than that in the entire game.  Oof.

Home court appears to be set, with the Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, and Indiana Pacers spread enough apart that no one will be able to chase them. Bulls’ losses at Miami and Indiana could give the Heat a slight chance to make the top seed, but that’s a tough thing to imagine. Due to the NBA Playoff format, Boston will nab the 4th seed after winning the Atlantic Division. The remaining four spots are a murkier view.  With Dwight Howard‘s back injury and the myriad of front office issues the Orlando Magic have faced, it’s hard to imagine them competing with the Atlanta Hawks for the right to play Boston.  That being said, they seem to be a more cohesive, team-first organization without Howard.  Teams with a distinct desire to win will remember this when Dwight-a-palooza 2.0 hits next season, and will likely pass.  He’s more meant for the organizations that have a need for PR purposes than ones who need to win.  Every team has a joker, a guy you can’t rely on (Luke Babbitt, Metta World Peace, Stephen Jackson with 29 NBA teams), but it’s not exactly the best formula for winning if that guy also happens to be your superstar.  Recent history has shown that in order to win, your best bet would be with a humble star (Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki), instead of the splashy names. Orlando’s not a postseason threat to anyone in limbo, but they might make a last push in order to save face. Knicks can have the 7th seed, whatever.

The 8th spot is something to consider, though.  Could the Philadelphia 76ers really fall out of the picture with only 5 games left in the regular season? Absolutely. The Milwaukee Bucks are only a game and a half behind, and they play the 76ers at home. Since the trade deadline, this Bucks team is almost, sorta, maybe clicking, somehow.  A loss here could spell doom for Philly.

DR: Humble stars? Are you forgetting Kobe Bryant? He may actually be humble off the court but on the court he is quite loquacious with his game.

You’re right about the Magic, though. They are dead in the water and I’m pretty sure that Atlanta has the tie breaker over them so it’s doubtful that they move up in the standings, especially with Howard resting his back injury for the foreseeable future. Some have even speculated that he could sit out the playoffs too. Drama Dwight knows how to play ‘em doesn’t he? The Magic will be a first round exit; the top three teams in the East are too good.

As for Philly, they are taking all their cues from the 2007 Mets. This was a team that I predicted was the scariest team in the East at midseason. I was way off with that one. It is simply mind blowing that they could fall apart this bad. There has been plenty of blame to throw around but it is the whole team that needs to accept responsibility for this showing. Andre Iguodala scored more than 20 points last night for the first time ALL SEASON. This is a well balanced team at virtually every position, and hypothetically, they can rely on scoring from all their pieces but this is crunch time and their balance is dwindling. It is completely conceivable that Milwaukee catches them.

New York is locked into the 7th seed behind the might of Steve “Discount Double Check” Novak. What a flawed and exciting team. I’m pretty sure that they can only exist with one star healthy at a time if they have any hopes of winning. Jeremy Lin led the team at one point, Stoudemire did it early on, now it’s Melo’s turn. It’s the oddest damn thing that they cannot coexist.

TH: Kobe’s an outlier, though, simply because of his self-concept as the post-Jordan Jordan. He’s his biggest critic, and he forces his teammates to play at the best of their ability. Dwight, Carmelo Anthony, and LeBron James have been habitual excuse-makers, and it shows when they’re really tested in the playoffs.

As for the Knicks, I still think they can mesh. Mike Woodson has done a great job with Melo so far, and if he can get Stoudemire to buy into him (not his plays even, but Woodson the man), they’ll work. Melo’s triple-double against the Celtics is firm evidence that he’s much more likely to defer a bit to his teammates than ever before. As soon as the Knicks can get Anthony to pass the ball, we’ll see an increase in his shot selection, and they’ll be able to run high pick-and-rolls with STAT, and then they’re golden.  The Knicks need two things on offense, from my perspective. They need unselfish play from Anthony in pick-and-roll situations, and they need to move the ball from left to right in the halfcourt.  If they get defenses paying attention to that sort of movement, it will free up a TON of space for the stars to drive.

DR: With Amar’e coming back from injury soon, Woodson has indicated that he will insert him backing into the starting lineup. Thus, Carmelo will move back to small forward as he has been playing the four spot. I just wonder if this is going to hurt their defense moving forward since Stoudemire isn’t known as a defensive anything. But it looks like we will see a Knicks Heat first round series so that should be fun.

Anyway, there is one team flying under the radar right now and that is fairly unbelievable. The Indiana Pacers are cruising! They have won 10 of their last 11 games and are simply clicking on all levels. The change of tempo that Leandro Barbosa has brought to this team is remarkable. Danny Granger is efficient and resisting the ‘hero-mode’ urge more than usual. Roy Hibbert is a double-double machine and Tyler Hansbrough has returned to his ever scrappy play that we saw in the first round against the Bulls last year. Oh, and they have David West. This team IS dangerous, yet, no one is talking about them at length outside of the guys at eightpointsnineseconds.com. Whether they play Orlando or Atlanta in the first round, the Pacers should see the second round for the first time in a while.

TH: I love this Pacers squad so much.  They were a boatload of fun last season, and all the guys they added are quality.  Of course I have to love George Hill, but David West was such a wonderful pickup for these guys.  I truly feel that this time next year, once the Magic and Celtics and Hawks suck, they will cement themselves as a perennial contender and a new Bulls-Pacers rivalry will form, maybe one that puts Indiana on top.

DR: The job that Frank Vogel has done with this team is remarkable. They have won more games already this season, in a shortened year, than they did all of last year. There aren’t many teams that can make that claim who are making the playoffs.

I think, though, one of the biggest concerns going into the playoffs is the health of the star players. Derrick Rose has been hurt, Rajon Rondo landed hard on his coccyx last night, Howard is hurt, how will Amar’e integrate, and to a lesser extent, Zaza Pachulia is also hurt. Teams like the Bulls and Celtics need to be healthy if they expect to compete deep into the playoffs. I know players will play hurt in the post season with everything on the line but with the season wrapping up it might be wise just to rest players. Miami is already doing it. In fact they will probably be the most rested team by the time the postseason begins.

TH: I’m not going to lie, I burst out laughing when Zaza’s name came up. Only in Atlanta. Not exactly worthy of the “Highlight Factory,” but with Al Horford out, you take what you can get.

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Midseason Report: Geedorah’s Reign

King Geedorah has escaped from Monster Island to spread terror from Miami

The brisket is finished not smoking. As the second half of the shortened regular season has just begun and because we like to procrastinate here at the Beef, I take a look back at the entirety (well the tasty bits at least) of the first stock of  games. This would have been written earlier but I had to let the Linsanity settle in my belly. Phew, OK, now that it is nice and digested, it could have used a little spice actually, let us recall some of the notable moments so far and while we are at it make some projections for the second half, shall we?

Best in the East:

Well, this is Miami’s conference. Hands down. No question. Other such clichés. They begin the second part of the season with a 27-7 record which is tied for the best record in the league. None of this should actually surprise anyone though, well maybe someone in Kazakstan, but no one who follows the sport.

Coming off their Finals loss, King Geedorah and company were heavy favorites to return to the Finals and win it all this season. At this point is seems like a sound bet that they will. Yes, Chicago is just behind them in the standings but something just does not seem right about their chances. I cannot quite place it but they seem to lack the explosive power that Miami has, oh, and LeBron James jumped completely over John Lucas earlier in the year.

Best in the West:

Sigh. It irks me to say this but the Thunder are the best team in the West but I will add a caveat to make myself feel better. They are the best because they have the best record. If you read this blog ever you have probably surmised that I have a number of doubts where the Thunder are concerned, especially with their drive or bailout jumper style of offense. This does not mean that I do not respect the talent that Sam Presti has assembled in Oklahoma City, but as a Texan I can never credit anything in Oklahoma as desirable. Sorry. (Actually, I’m not sorry.)

Scariest team in the East:

In West Philadelphia born and raised…yes, that is right. The Philadelphia 76ers are the scariest team in the East. This is coming from someone who is also an unabashed fan of the Pacers but Indy has been stomped soundly by the Heat a couple of times this season already.

Philly, as the trend seems to be with teams on the rise this year, has the ability to strike from almost anywhere on the floor as they do not rely on a single star to carry the team. Instead, almost every player down the roster is capable of scoring when presented with the opportunity. However, it is on the defensive end of the floor where the Sixers make their mark.They lead the NBA in defensive efficiency and also hold their opponents to the lowest effective field goal shooting percentage in the league. The Fresh Prince would be proud of his home town team.

Now if only Spencer Hawes would get healthy…

Scariest team in the West:

Never discount the old dogs. San Antonio is the scariest damn team in the league possibly. Their Rodeo Road Trip seems to have renewed the team team…again. Who saw that coming? It isn’t like it happens every year like clockwork. Yet, this is not your slightly older sibling’s Spurs. No, this incarnation of the team is all about offense. Toss out the defense.

Oh, and they are scoring buckets on buckets on buckets with Manu Ginobili suffering two separate injuries thus far. Too bad for the Spurs that they are second in the West because their best match up in the first round could be the Thunder. San Antonio completely smoked them last time they faced each other.

MVP:

LeBron. No brainer.

DPOY:

I am completely in favor of term limits so it has to go to Tony Allen this year. He might not have all the flashy numbers to back up his ability to defend, but he is, in my opinion, the best perimeter defender the league has seen since Metta World Peace was named Ron Artest and playing for the Pacers.

ROY:

With just half the season over it is a tie. (Sorry, I know that is a cop-out but I doubt you actually read this far anyway.) Ricky Rubio and Kyrie Irving.

MIP:

Jeremy Lin. I don’t think I need to explain that one. However, I should make reference to players who were making a strong case, at least to me, for most improved before Linsanity: Ryan Anderson and Ersan Ilyasova.

Sixth Man:

James Harden. Yawn.

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