True Hoops

True Hoops

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Destiny vs. Free Will......

......Also know as the Dallas Mavericks vs. the Miami Heat.

We are here. The beginning of the end starts tonight.
But before the Finals commence, can we for a second marvel at how the journey just to get here for both of these teams couldn't have been more different.

For the Mavericks, they have spent their whole season under the radar. No one really thought they would be here. Right? To find them in the Finals is surprising to say the least. And yet now that they are here it's as if it was meant to be. A magical ride for a team on a mission to finish what they started 5 years ago. Yes only two players actually remain from the '06 finals team, but still, how many veterans do they have that have waited their whole career for this opportunity? Some for the first time, some for perhaps the last time.

As fate would have it, they now face the team that beat them the last time they were in the finals.

And for the Miami Heat, this whole season has been anything but under the radar. Not with their own Heat index. The fact that they are here isn't that surprising, is it?
Right after the Decision, a majority of analysts picked them to reach the finals. Of course along the way they had their bumps, and perhaps many people wished that they wouldn't get here. Oh well.
They are right where they are supposed to be.

Can't we just stop now and enjoy the journey that both of these teams took to get here?
No. We can't.
One team has to win. One team has to lose.

Yet despite what you have to say about these teams, doesn't this series really come down to individuals? Two individuals at separate stages in their careers. And two individuals who made different choices to get back here.

Ah yes. Choice.
The problem is choice.

Dirk chose to stay, for better or worse. He rode it out.
Winning a championship now would be the sort of story-book ending we would like to be read. An ending that would close an era of the NBA

However, LeBron chose to leave. He joined his friends to form a super team.
Winning a championship now would be an ending of his own authorship. An ending that could change the future of the NBA.

The Miami Heat are a force, that was engineered by design. We are starting to see their prowess with their run through the eastern conference.
The Dallas Mavericks are a study in perseverance. They have been beaten and doubted and written off, countless times. Yet here they are.

So, what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?

Well, let me ask you a few questions......

Who wants it more?
Dirk was desperate to "get another shot on the big stage."
Jason Terry had a picture of the NBA championship trophy tattooed on his arm before this season.
Kidd is still ballin' at 38!
Marion and Peja always lost to the Spurs and Lakers, respectively.


LeBron became the villain for this.
He left his home state and put his reputation and legacy(?) all on the line.

Who needs it more?
Dirk and Kidd are already hall of famers, do they need this to elevate their stature?
Jason Terry had a picture of the NBA championship trophy tattooed on his arm before the season. What would he do if he doesn't win it?


Vindication for LeBron's Decision.

Who Deserves it more?
The Mavs have paid their dues.
Dirk: up 2-0 in '06, 67 wins and MVP in '07 - then lost in first round.


I have never seen anyone so vilified as LeBron this season.
How much vitriol has he faced?
And for what? Admitting that he needs help?
What does that say about our society?
And still, look at everything he has done in the face of that.

What will be the difference?
Perimeter defense.
Who would have thought Jose Barea could be a deciding factor?
Well, Dirk too.
Will the Heat be able to play straight up defense on Dirk and Barea?
When the Mavs are at their best, they are shooting the lights out from the three point line.
A majority of their shots from three come on drive and kicks to the open man when the defense helps on penetration.
Who do the Mavs have that can create for themselves?
Of course Dirk. But believe it or not Barea has been a difference maker in several games this post-season by his ability to get in the lane by himself or off screens.
The Heat CAN NOT leave Terry or Peja, or - heaven forbid - Dirk open to shoot.
It will not be a good look if they do.

How will it end?
Miami in 6 games.
I believe in destiny/fate. But I also believe the choices we make help shape them.

It helps when Miami has the two best players in the world as well as a top big man.
It also helps that Wade and James are two of the best perimeter defenders in the league.
If they were able to hold Derrick Rose relatively in check, my guess is they can handle the likes of Jose Barea and Jason Kidd.
Dirk will get his, but usually 1 superstar doesn't beat 2 superstars and an all-star.
Although, I should caution, beware of the team of destiny.
Sometimes rules of reason and rationale don't apply to them.

I know what it's like to root for a team to finally get over the hump. I was a Knicks fan growing up during the Ewing era. We never were able to win it. Isn't this Mavs team something similar? I mean Patrick Ewing was the best 7 foot shooting guard in the NBA until Dirk. Ewing was a great player but never really had the help around him, like Dirk.
And because of that, part of me would like to see Dirk win.

But, there is a black hole in the NBA right now. With the demise of the Lakers and Celtics, everyone is fighting for the new supremacy. Who is better built for that than the Miami Heat? This Finals is about moving forward and will go a long way towards the Heat holding the crown for years to come.

Magic and Bird.
The Pistons.

We have now entered the LeBron era.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Importance of Having a Mid-Range Jumper pt.3 LeBron is the Best

It seems as if we've been down this road before, haven't we?
Maybe once or twice.
Let's see if LeBron learned from his previous experiences.

The setting: Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals. 
At Stake: A chance to go to the NBA finals.
LeBron, your team is down three with about a minute to play.
What do you?

May I suggest......

1) Ride your team's momentum. Wade just made a 4 point play to cut it to three. Before that, you just made a three to cut it to 7. You have Chicago on the ropes, why not go for the tie now and break their back completely?
Trust your killer instinct.
And don't let the defense set up either, look for the three in transition. 
Have confidence in your jump shot, you've been making big threes all playoffs long. 
The first opening you get - take it....

After you tie the game (because we all know you will tie it).

2) You'll have the ball with under a minute to go.
Even though you just made two threes, know that your defender is still playing you for the drive. 
He can't stay in front of you.
But still, he can't contest your jump shot either. 
Why drive to the basket where you'll face weakside help defense? 
Why not just create space and elevate?
Trust your skill LeBron.
How about driving to your left then taking a little step back at the top of the key to create space for a mid-range jumper?
Trust me, you'll make it.

What do you think?

There was never a doubt.
Thank you LeBron for believing in your skills, rather than just relying on your talent.
I humbly say, that you have come a long way.

And of course I can't forget about the defense you played down the stretch last night either.
I merely suggested what you might want to do offensively.
Your exploits on the defensive end however, that was all you.
Of course you had to stop Derrick Rose to give yourself a chance to tie the game in transition.
And then of course you had to tip Derrick Rose's pass, leading to a steal, to set-up your go ahead basket. And then of course on the last play of the game, fittingly, you had to block Derrick Rose's last second three-point attempt to seal the series.

I know before I've mentioned your ability to dominate the game on the defensive end separates you from Kevin Durant. In reality, it's part of what separates you from everyone else in the world.
You've clearly shown that in these playoffs.

But that's only part of it.

Let me also state what else separates you from everyone else.
It's your ability to rise to the occasion in the most hostile and pressure packed environments.
It's your ability to be a closer, on both ends of the floor, and make big plays down the stretch.
It's your ability to be clutch and close out games/series.

You've clearly shown that all season, going into Cleveland, New York, and L.A.
And most impressively, you've clearly shown that in the playoffs with how you've closed out Boston and Chicago.

Let me say it loud and clear:
LeBron James is the best basketball player in the world.

I'll just finish with this.
When LeBron James first came into the NBA, he had impossible hype to live up to.
But he was one of those rare occasions in life where he was actually better than the hype.

Now, when LeBron James came into this season, he had impossible hate to overcome.
But amazingly, he has done just that.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

MVP Talk

Did you check out the conversation that occurred during last night's game between the reigning MVP Derrick Rose, and the winner of the two previous MVPs, LeBron James???

From what I was able to see and hear, it went something like this:

Rose: LeBron, I can't believe you left Cleveland like that. You were the two-time MVP, you had everything. Your team was the number 1 seed in the NBA for two straight years. How could you bounce? Everyone would love to be in that position - you were the man. 
You know what? let me show you how it's done - now I got the MVP, the number 1 seed, so move out of the way - and don't even think about jumping:

LeBron: Kid, I love your game. Congrats on the MVP - everyone knew you were gonna win it. And congrats on getting the number 1 seed in the NBA - no one expected that. But please - let's not go back to the 'Decision.' There were so many things involved that, at 22, you don't really understand yet.
And besides, I've won the MVP twice already. It's a nice trophy but I want other trophies - if you know what I mean. Plus now that I am in Miami I can focus on other things like being NBA first team all-defense. Here, let me show you: 

Rose: So what? You were able to block me from the blind side, big deal. I don't care what you say. Being the MVP means that you can take over at any moment and win a game, by yourself. I don't need anyone to help me shoulder the load - we already have the best defense in the league. Plus, I'm the fastest guy on the court and you guys can't stay in front of me - who cares if my team can't shoot.
It doesn't matter how many defenders you send at me  - I'll out jump them all:

LeBron: Alright, now you listen to me. This is between us, don't try to embarrass my teammates.  You went a little too far. Don't act like I can't do the same.

Rose: Yeah, but.....

LeBron: No kid, you've done enough talking. I've heard enough from you and the likes all season long. Now it's time for you to watch, listen and learn. I can take over a game as well, pretty much anytime I want to. More still, I can do it on a plethora of moves - including jump-shots - not just dunking on people.  

LeBron: And what? You want me to guard you straight up? Even when the game is on the line? Okay, watch me. Yes that's right, I'm quick enough to stay in front two straight possessions to close out regulation (I did the same thing against Paul Pierce in game 4 of the last series as well - and that dude was a finals MVP).
   And, contrary to misconception, as you can see above I can finish over Noah going to the basket. I'm big enough to take the contact and protect the ball with my body while finishing with the left. And that's right, I don't need no foul.
But you know what I do need? Do you know what I have finally realized? That no matter how great I am as an individual, I can't do it on my own - I need help.
    Let tell you what I mean.
   You know my friend Chris right? Everybody hates him, including your team. But he is averaging 24 and 7 against you guys on 64% shooting. Only Dirk is shooting better than that. How much of a luxury do you think it is for me to just feed him and have him create and make big shots?
   And let me introduce you to my friend Dwayne. You may have heard that he took over the Boston series and kind of allowed me to pick a choose my spots. We sort of have this thing going where we take turns dominating a game - or series. It allows me to stay fresh and loose without having all of the pressure from carrying a franchise/city on my shoulders. He's "only" averaging 18 and 7 this series, but hey that's why we also have Chris. And you talk about defense? Well, we're pretty good at that as well. You've already seen me stay in front of you, but Dwayne can D up as well, as you'll see for yourself:

Rose: (tired and panting) Wow. This MVP/savior solo act is harder than it looks.

LeBron: (smiling) Tell me about it kid. Try it for 4 years in a row. Sorry I had to do this to you, but better you learn from me - I know what it's like to be drafted by your home state. 
By the way, you're doing a great job.

Rose: I just thought we had a bunch of good players and could win it all since we had the best record.
I guess it is good to have some super friends.

LeBron: Yeah kid, the playoffs are a different animal. You do have good players, but this environment isn't for the faint of heart. Give it some time, see how you guys grow and maybe you can add someone of your caliber. Then we'll see what happens. 

Rose: Thanks a lot LeBron, I really appreciate your help. 

LeBron: No problem kid. As I said, I'm a big fan. Hold your head up. I may not get a chance to say much to you after the next game, but let's talk more in London 2012.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Dirk Nowitzki is...... all of the above.
At this point he is so good, he is bad.
He is so bad, it's ugly.
And it's been so ugly in these playoffs, that his game is out right nasty. 

This guy IS a beast:

My favorite shot comes at the 16 second mark.
Dirk, pressured by Nick Collision:
1) spins to his left
2) is cut off
3) spins back to his right
4) anticipates Collision contesting (we're talking precognition here)
5) therefore performs an up and under move
6) is still contested
7) therefore jumps off one foot for a fall-away jumper
8) is wet
9) gives a half snarl/half "how nasty am I?" look to some unfortunate OKC fans in the crowd.
(consider it a more playful version of Kobe's snarl look).

Do you think he practices all that?

And look at dirk's swag after making the one handed off-balance shot in the next clip.
(Is he playing a game of horse?)
Conversely, look at the deflated look of the OKC bench and fans behind him.

Best of all listen to the music.
It is befitting of a hero putting a team on his back to save the day, in an hostile environment.
It seems befitting of an NBA champion - I guess we'll have to see about that.

Dirk has answered himself.
This dude is the best right now, hands down.
Did anyone expect this?
For the playoffs, Dirk is averaging 29 points and 7 rebounds a game on 52% shooting.
For the western conference finals, Dirk is averaging 34 points on 56% shooting!

Is this guy for real?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Chris Bosh Big-Game Workout

34 points on 13-18 shooting. And that was after he missed his first three shots.
Hold that Chicago.
Hold that haters.

Believe it or not, Chris Bosh is leading everyone in scoring this series.
No coincidence Miami has a 2-1 lead.

At this point, whatever you think about Chris Bosh and/or his game is irrelevant.
He is an olympic champion.
He is a 6 time all-star (out of 8 seasons).
And he is one of the best big men in the game.

No, he is not a beast.
But he is 6'11", skilled, and can shoot.
Not unlike Pau Gasol.
Coincidently, people call him soft too.

In his first season with Miami Bosh averaged 19 points and 8 rebounds a game - as the third option.
What Chicago wouldn't give for that right now.
In the playoffs thus far, he is averaging 18 points and 9 rebounds a game - as the third option.
What Chicago wouldn't give for that right now.

But what has been most impressive about Bosh this season has been his ability to answer critics at crucial moments by have big performances in some of the most important games of the season.

Remember when the Heat went on their 5 game losing streak after the all-star break that had everyone in panic mode? After their 5th loss Bosh demanded the ball more.
What happened?
They beat the Lakers the next game (back when the Lakers played like the Lakers) and Bosh had 24 points and 9 rebounds.

Same goes for the playoffs.
Remember when Miami lost game 3 in the Boston series?
In that game, bosh had a measly 6 points (on 6 shots) and 5 rebounds while Garnett had 28 points and 18 rebounds.
I was there for that game - which is why I was able to film Dwayne Wade's pre-game workout.
However, I did not see Bosh work out before the game.
Although after that game, Bosh made some comments about needing to touch the ball more.
How would he back that up?

Can you guess who I saw working out before game 4?
Probably wanting to make sure he was fully prepared this time, Bosh was getting it in early:

I told you he can shoot.
But what about some post moves?
Okay, here you go:

I know all of you big men out there felt out of the loop when I posted videos of Ray Allen and Dwayne Wade.

Hopefully you guys appreciate this.

Look how Bosh works on catching the ball with his back to the defender and then uses his pivot foot to face the defender and then either bump him or jab-step to create space for his jump-shot. Also notice how he worked on using both the left and right foot as a pivot. Look how quick and fluid those moves are. Remember, Bosh is 6'11".

So what did this pre-game workout yield?
Bosh had 20 points and 12 rebounds in an overtime win, that enabled the Heat to take control of the series and finish it off in Miami. Bosh also had a huge tip-in bucket in overtime to seal the deal.
Garnett finished with 7 points and 10 rebounds.

It seems people haven't learned their lesson about doubting Bosh.
As you can see in this series against Chicago, Bosh keeps saving his best for when people hate on him most.
Before the series began, Carlos Boozer was asked how Chicago would handle Miami's big three.
His response?

"Miami has two great players in Wade and James. We're really going to have to focus on those two."

Talking about hating on a dude.
By omitting Bosh, Boozer in effect was trying to play him.

Bad idea.

Bosh is averaging 25 points and 7 rebound a game on 67% shooting this series.
In contrast, Boozer is averaging 16 points and 11 rebounds a game on 41% shooting.
Not bad numbers for Boozer, but let's face it, he's no Chris Bosh.

And of course, some of Bosh's buckets have come directly against Boozer:

Look at the foot work.
Look at the spin, the dribble, and finish.
It almost looks like it's something that he practices......
Nothing I love better than in-game application of moves/skills that you work on in practice.

I guess Boozer should have been careful about what he said.
Maybe he should have focused on playing Bosh on the court instead of off it.

Notice to Dallas (or Oklahoma):
Don't try to punk Chris Bosh.
It will only end up bad for you and your squad.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bringing the Thunder!

When you are 6'9" with a 7'5" wing span, like Kevin Durant, chances are you can probably dunk.
And with those physical attributes, when you get a running start from the top of the key, chances are you can probably dunk over a 7 footer.

Let's see if all of the above is true:

If you are Brendan Haywood, the next time you see the above actions transpire, chances are you probably want to get out of the way.

After seeing this, one has to wonder what in the world does Durant really have in his backpack? Rocket boosters?

"I dunk on people, hee-hee."

Forget the strength shoes, I need to get one of those.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Serious or Sarcastic?

Let's play a game.
I am going to make a series of statements regarding game two of the eastern confrence finals.
Each statement will be preceded with the word "shocker" (denoting how surprising the statement is).
Your job is to then guess whether I am being serious or sarcastic.

Are you ready?
Let's begin.

The Bulls/Heat series is tied 1-1

After LeBron and Wade combined for 28 points on 12-32 shooting (37.5%) in a game one loss, they combined for 54 points on 20-37 shooting (54%) in a game two win.

After having 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists in game one, LeBron had 29 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists in game two.

LeBron James was clutch and closed out game two. He carried the Heat down the stretch, scoring 9 of his team's last 12 points after the game was tied with 4:30 to play.

Three of LeBron's four field goals down the stretch were jump shots.
Two of his jumpers were mid-range jump shots.

Shocker: Luol Deng did not outplay LeBron James in game two.


The Heat out-defended the Bulls.

Derrick Rose shot 7-23, finishing with 21 points, 6 rebounds, and 8 assists.

As Derrick Rose goes, so does the Bulls.
Derrick Rose had trouble getting into the paint and scoring, therefore the Bulls had trouble producing points.

It looked like the Bulls could have used another playmaker on the floor.

Shocker: The Heat out-rebounded the Bulls, 45-41, in game two.

Udonis Haslem was a difference maker for the Heat, scoring 13 points on 5-10 shooting.

Udonis Haslem dunked on Keith Bogans.

Udonis Haslem dunked on Derrick Rose.

Only 9/15 of these statements are sarcastic.

Chicago, you Haslem problem

Note to D. Wade.
Udonis Haslem has got your back:

Peep the look of gratitude AND vindication on Wade's face after the dunk.

Keith Bogans isn't good enough for you?
Okay, fine:

Is the MVP good enough for you?

True story:
Before game 3 of the Celtics/Heat series, I walked into the Miami locker room.
There I saw Udonis Haslem in street clothes watching "Coming to America" on his ipad (great movie).
Question: What in the world was he doing pre-game tonight?

And how about both of the home town heros getting punched on in the first two games?
This series is tied 1-1 indeed.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dirk and the New Microwave

Forget about the Rose in Chicago.
Forget about the stars in Miami.
And forget about KD and West in OKC.

At this point, how can you not be rooting for Dirk and Dallas?
Are you not enamored with his skill set yet?

Even Magic Johnson, after the Mavs swept the Lakers, has said:
"Dirk I used to appreciate what you did from afar, but now I am a complete fan."
"Keep it up, because you have what it takes to win a championship."
And that was after he swept Magic's Lakers.

After having over a week off since that series, how did he follow it up to start this one against the Thunder?
How about 48 points on 12-15 shooting, 24-24 from the foul line (NBA record).
What was most incredible was how easy it seemed for him.
It was almost as if the game was in slow motion.

Look how unfazed he is by all of Serge Ibaka's quick hand motions:

Dirk was so nasty, the youtube clip above (in which the music is epic) says he "posterizes" Ibaka.
All he did was shoot a jumper in his face!
Do we now have a new standard for jump shooters/posters?

Speaking of shooting.
Serge, Dirk is a 7 foot jump shooter.
Rather than only using your hands, why not get up in his body and make him put the ball on the floor?
That way you can use your feet as well.
Oh wait. you tried that earlier in the game:

Never mind.
Question. Does that baseline move/dunk qualify as "posterize," or are we strictly only counting jumpers from now on?

Speaking of lanky jump shooting big men, we can't forget about Kevin Durant's game...... can we?
Only 40 points on 10-18 shooting, 18-19 from the foul line. Throw in 8 rebounds for good measure. 
And that is following his 39 point game 7 performance.
I know I'm pretty hard on him (mostly in defense of LeBron).
But I have to say, this kid is legit. 
He's a straight up un-tattooed version of Carmelo Anthony.

But to continue my stringency on admitting Durant's greatness - maybe something more than scoring is required for the Thunder to win this series.
I insinuated what The difference between LeBron and Durant is a little while ago.
That difference would be LeBron's ability to dominate a game on the defensive end.
Of course that post was followed up by LeBron being named to the first team NBA all-defensive team.

You know what I would love to see?
How about Durant telling his coach - "I'll guard Dirk."
And why not?
Durant has the length to contest shots and the foot speed to stay up on him.
Yes, Dirk will proceed to take Durnat to the post. But how is that any different from what he does to anybody else?
Hey, it's the western conference finals - it's time to go all out.

Lastly, I know what all of you out there are saying.
48 points aside, who really cares about Nowitzki?

We all know Jose Barea is the real driving force behind the mavericks, right?
I don't care what the NBA lists him as, this dude is no where near 6'0"
Still, no one can guard this guy.
He was a difference maker in two of the wins against the Lakers - shooting 50% in that series.
Last night, this dude had 21 points on 8-12 shooting, in 16 minutes!
I repeat: 21 points in 16 minutes! 
Apologies to Vinnie Johnson, but Jose Barea is the new Microwave.
What makes it even better is that 6 of his 8 field goals were inside the paint!
Besides no one, who is holding this guy???

Mr. Westbrook, have I got a job for you......

Monday, May 16, 2011

Not like Wade

Talk about bad timing.
The day after I highlight Dwayne Wade's pre-game workout, this happens:

Oy vey.
It just goes to show you, even the best have bad days.

Give Wade credit for going for the block. He is listed as 6'4"
The only problem is Taj Gibson is listed as 6'9"
And, I should point out that it is extremely tough to block someone when you jump from a stationary position and the person coming at you is going full speed with all the momentum.

The Bulls took it to the Heat all night, winning by 21.
And the two baddest men in the business (LeBron - 15 points on 5/15 shooting, Wade - 18 points on 7/17 shooting) were upstaged by the new kid on the block (Rose - 28 points on 10/22 shooting).

Chris Bosh (30 points - 12/18 shooting) did his best to stick up for his boys:

Unfortunately, Ronnie Brewer was able to return the favor:

Who do you think will get finished next???

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Be Like Wade

Talk about good timing.
Right after I put up my last post about how nice LeBron and Wade are they go off for 33 and 34 points, respectively, to close out the Celtics.

Remember what I said about these guys taking turns?
Well, Wade kept Miami afloat in the first half while LeBron took things over down the stretch.
And my goodness, that stretch at the end of game 5 was a sight to behold.

After going 1-3 against the Celtics in regular season, Miami flipped the switch to beat Boston 4-1.
What was the biggest difference you ask?
That's easy.
Dwayne Wade.

His numbers in the regular season against the Celtics:
13 points, 4 rebounds, and 5.3 assists a game on 28% shooting.

His numbers in the playoffs against the Celtics:
30 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists a game on 53% shooting.

I would say that more than doubling your scoring output and almost doubling your shooting percentage makes a difference.
A big difference.

Honestly though, what did you expect from this guy?
He is a bad man.
That we all know.

But maybe what we don't know is, how do you get that bad?
What sort of moves/drills do you practice?
How do you prepare for games?

Why don't we see for ourselves.

First off, I absolutely love how Wade comes out and warms up by doing some ball handing.
It seems like most of the NBA players that I have seen before games come out and just shoot right away.
That can't be good and to me is absolutely shocking.
Well, Wade isn't like most NBA players.
Therefore it is cool to see him get a bit of a rhythm with some dribbling drills.

Also, compare this routine to that of Ray Allen's.
Allen's routine consists mostly of spot up shooting.
Wade by contrast mixes it up and does a lot off the dribble.

Form fits function.

The difference in each player's routine caters to the strengths of their respective games.
What makes Wade so special is that not only can he get to the rim, but he can also shoot. Most importantly he can create his own shot.

Check out some of the moves he puts in on video 3. In particular, look at his dribble right then cross-over behind the back move into his jump-shot.

That looks a little familiar doesn't it?
Practice makes perfect.

Another comparison between Wade and Allen.
One of the things I took away from seeing Allen shoot was how "human" he looked. Meaning, for some reason I though he would make just about every shot he took. Actually, a lot of the feed back I received from posting his pre-game routine was regarding the disbelief with how much he missed.
I mean, he "only" shot 58% from NBA three's.

In contrast, I can't believe how little Wade misses.
And I'm not trying to play him.
His jumper is wet.
One of the comments I got for these videos on youtube was "D. Wade doesn't miss!"

Then, look at how he finishes his routine, with some pseudo one-on-one drills.
Question. How can I get that job?
I'm sure I can be just as good at letting wade score on me before games to give him confidence.

One final comment.
Look at the speed at which Wade is going through his routine.
Not super fast. But at his own pace.
Maybe during drills in the off-season or in practice it's different.
But still, I have always been a believer in doing certain drills slower (at least to start) to focus more on mechanics and techniques.
This certainly would make sense before a game.
Going slower doesn't mean you're not going hard or going right.
Look at the sweat Wade builds up.

And we certainly can't argue with the results.

So, there you have it.
Give these drills a go.
Who knows, maybe one day you can be as bad as Dwayne Wade.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Two of a Kind*

Wade: "LeBron, how many chips did you say we would win?"
LeBron: "whoo, I don't remember. But don't worry, as long as your game stays as fly as your jacket, we got this."
I been saying it.
I been saying it.
Ain't I been saying it?
I been saying it for ten damn months.

When you have the two best players in the world on your team, the opposition is in trouble.
As a matter of fact, the whole NBA is in trouble.

Some people questioned the ability of this duo to work together or to compliment one another.
Some people felt they didn't have enough of an overall team to beat the Celtics.
Well they haven't won anything yet, but with a 3-1 lead over Boston and the Lakers gone, let's be real.
The championship is the Heat's to lose (no disrespect to Dallas).

As I have stated before (in the comment section of 'Wake up and Smell the Rose' and in 'Deja Vu: the Prequel') You're not going to be able to handle these guys together in a playoff series.

Let's look at the numbers of LeBron James and Dwayne Wade this series against the Celtics:
James: 27 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists a game on 46% shooting
Wade: 29 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists a game on 49% shooting

Now let's look at the prospects of the Celtics.
Boston: Done

Listen, these guys can and have been taking turns as to which one will take over a game - either on a nightly basis  or from possession to possession. Do you know how much of a luxury that is?
Ask Derrick Rose.

James and Wade both put so much pressure on the defense.
They both attack relentlessly to create whatever they want for themselves and others as well.
You can't guard them straight up, but if you double one, the other will have an advantage or at the very least someone else will get an open look.
James Jones had 25 points in game one against the Celtics and some brilliant commentator blamed it on the fact that the Boston defense was paying too much attention to the ball.
Yeah, no kidding genius.
If Wade or LeBron has the ball in their hands, chances are you'll want to be paying attention.
All Jones, Bibby, Miller, and Chambers have to do is make open jumpers. And as I said previously, if those guys can give them anything, they're in the finals - easy.

And that's just if one of them has their way.
Of course, if you're really unlucky, they both do their thing  - at the same time.

And for the 100th time, this was why LeBron made his 'Decision.'

Look at how it all has come to fruition this series.
Game one: Wade, 38 points. LeBron a pedestrian 22 points.
LeBron even said himself that last year his team wouldn't have won a game like this because he didn't dominate. But now, no sweat!

Still, it doesn't mean LeBron doesn't want in on the fun.
Game two: LeBron 35 points, Wade second fiddle with 28 points.

Game three: The lone aberration in the series, Wade 23 points, LeBron 15 points!
No coincidence the Heat lost. Did the Celtics figure something out? Did they find out how to stop one or both of these guy sat the same time?

It just so happens I was able to ask them myself after game 3 in the Boston Garden press room
You can listen to their whole interview session below, but if you want to hear Dr. JRS inquire, skip ahead to around the 3:56 mark - I'm reppin' Israel Sport Radio. (The audio file is fairly low in volume, please use headphones for optimal listening pleasure).

So, as D. Wade said:
1) Boston had good energy.
2) Boston is a good defensive team.
3) He and LeBron settled
4) And they would have to look at film to make the proper adjustments.

What did they do in Game four you ask?
LeBron 35 points. And Wade second fiddle again with 28 points.
Yeah, I would say they made the proper adjustments.
And that's the point, these two are too good to be held in check in a seven game series.
Just when you think you have them figured out, they turn the Heat back on.

Naturally I was curious as to what specific adjustments they made to beat the vaunted Celtics defense in game four in Boston Garden.

I figured why not just ask them directly again (it's all about the primary sources).
Again, you can listen to their whole interview session, but to hear Dr. JRS inquire, skip ahead to about the 7:22 mark - again reppin' Israel Sport Radio! (Headphones please.)

I absolutely love it.
Listen to LeBron giving credit to the Celtics defense.
As well he should. You always want to make the dude you just smoked seem tough, which by default means you are one bad-ass, because you just smoked them.

LeBron, I never said what you did was easy.
What I was insinuating with my question and little chuckle was that you my friend are the baddest dude in the world and that guy sitting next to you on the podium happens to be the second baddest dude in the world.

And the truth is, great offense, especially from you two, can beat good defense.

After praising the Celtics defense, LeBron went on to say the difference in game four was really just a matter of himself and Wade being more aggressive and the both of them constantly being in attack mode.
Really? That's all?
I don't know what I expected him to say.
Maybe it is easy.
I get the feeling, he went back to realizing that the only person in the world that can guard him is himself.

And lest we forget, if you think you can manage to cover these two for seven games, you'll notice an asterisk next to the title of this post.
That's because, in all fairness, their really is a third component here.
As I pointed out to all the haters several months ago, Chris Bosh is giving the Heat great production as a third option. It has continued in the playoffs and in the series against Boston as well.
Although only averaging 13 points a game this series, he is getting 10 rebounds a game. That's big.
And he always seems to come through in big games when people start to question him.
One game after being dominated by Garnett, Bosh had 20 points and 12 rebounds in their overtime win. Not to mention his tip-in with under a minute to go in overtime to essentially seal the deal.

Think about this:
In game four Miami's big three combined for 83 points (out of 98!).
Holy Schnikes.
Ho do you handle that?

With that said, let's see the Heat finish it off tonight and advance.
Then let's see them take out the MVP.
Then let's see them take out Nowitzki, or Durant if he dares.

Then, you will have seen history made.
A 'Decision' vindicated.
And a dynasty truly born - 11 months after the victory parade.

The Future is now.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The End

Shocking is a word that comes to mind.

No, isn't that shocking that the Laker lost this series.
It's more shocking that they devolved into something so sub-standard.

Deserving is another word that comes to mind.

What do you expect when an over confident/decadent team faces a hungry and gritty team?
What do you expect when a bunch of talented individuals play a team on a mission?
What do you expect when a team with seemingly no offensive or defensive game plan (and certainly no continuity) plays a team that is focused and has every member playing their role to perfection?

Yes, the Lakers deserved to lose.
The mavericks clearly deserved to win.
The question is, how did the Lakers get to this point?

Puzzlingly, they showed no emotion or sense of urgency throughout this series.
It was if they felt that they could simply win just by showing up.
Talk about having no sense of reality.

What happened to Kobe?
Where was his usual over the top dramatics? Where was his patented snarl look?
Contrast his demeanor and philosophy to that of Dirk and the Mavs.
Dirk has openly stated that he is "desperate" to get back to the finals.
Kobe on the other hand, after going down 0-2 in the series clearly stated that the Lakers were "not desperate."

Now I know Kobe is a 5-time NBA champion and I like it when Kobe plays it cool.
But too cool?
What did he do to back up his words in game 3?
He showed no emotion, unless you count giving Derek fisher a cool looking pound and hugging Shannon Brown.
No Snarls, just smiles.
17 points on 16 shots?
Where was he the last five minutes of the game?
With all do respect to Lamar Odom, why was he taking the last shots in the game?

And speaking of taking shots, did the Lakers have any offensive game plan?
It certainly seemed, especially in today's closeout game, that everyone was just out there just jacking up shots. No wonder they supposedly had "trust issues."

After going down 0-3, Kobe said "call me crazy, but I still think we're going to win this series."
I know at that point, there was nothing else he could say.
Of course he had to say that because you always play to win.
Who knows if he really believed it, but if he did.....
Then Kobe, you're crazy.
But that's okay, that's what like about you.

Oddly enough, today was reminiscent of the last time the Lakers lost in the playoffs, when they got smacked by the Celtics in game 6 of the '08 finals.

And speaking of the past, last year everyone said LeBron quit.
Additionally, everyone then said that if Kobe were to lose, at least he would go down swinging (and taking shots).
Well let's be fair. That certainly didn't appear to be the case here.

But this certainly isn't only about Kobe.
Does anyone know what happened to Pau Gasol?
Don't get me wrong, even at Gasol's best, Dirk Nowitzki is still better.
But what was going on?
Did something happen?
Something in the locker room?

Something was wrong.

Something was really wrong and it all came apart at the seams.
By the end of this series, the Lakers no longer looked like a team.
The lack of emotion, toughness, and togetherness for the two-time defending champs just seemed bizarre.

Not to mention the defensive helplessness lack of basketball IQ.
Who would have guessed that the Lakers would have no answer for Jose Barea?
When Chris Paul torched them in the first round, we assumed it's because it was Chris Paul.
Apparently not.
The Lakers had no answers for Barea's speed and looked clueless on pick and roll defense.

Question. Why were ALL of the Lakers defenders playing up on Barea?
Another question. Why were the Lakers trying to fight over the top of the picks set for him?
EVERY TIME they did these things, Barea would either get all the way to the basket on a blow-by, OR they would have to double or send help defense leaving a shooter open.

They couldn't have made any adjustments? Not one?
They couldn't have maybe tried going underneath the screens and making Barea beat them on perimeter jump shots?

Speaking of leaving shooters open.
It was incredulous to me how Lakers could leave Dirk Nowtizki open, not once, not twice, but three times in a row to start game 3 - a nice little 9-0 run for the Mavs. What took the cake was that they had the brilliant idea of leaving Nowitzki in order to double Jason Kidd! What did they think would happen?
Leaving the Mavs best player - the best player in the series, one of the best players in the world - WIDE OPEN, three possessions in a row!? That's unacceptable for my high school team, let alone the Lakers.

And what about today?
They couldn't at least get a hand up on Terry and Stojakavic?
It wasn't so much that those guys were hitting every three they took, it was that a majority of the threes they took were WIDE OPEN. Again, a lot of that was do to their out right incompetency to guard the pick and roll. But it was also clear that effort was lacking.

And then of course to top it off, the Lakers showed no class at the end.
Not with Odom and Bynum both trying to demolish and hurt Nowitzki and Barea, respectively.

Now, I knew the Mavs were a tough match-up for the Lakers.
I clearly stated that I wouldn't be shocked if they came out of the west.
But I didn't think they would sweep the Lakers.
But you know what?
Good for them.

So what is next for the Lakers?
Has Kobe won his last chip?
I thought (more like hoped) the Lakers would win one more this year and then that would be it.
Now what?

You would think the lakers front-line is not the problem.
Gasol and Bynum are both big and both relatively young (23 and 30).
But I know someone else that is young and better than both of them.
So, do they offer Gasol and Bynum for Dwight Howard?

More pressing, I believe, is the clear fact that they are in need of a point guard - one that can get in the lane at will and one that can defend opposing team's quicker point guards. Someone that can create havoc on both ends of the floor.
Chris Paul anyone?
And if not him, Deron Williams anyone?
The question is, do they wait to sign them or try to force a trade for either one of those two before they become free agents Carmelo Anthony style?

I know, how about trading for Howard and then signing Paul in the summer of 2012?
Does Kobe have enough credit to make that happen?
By the summer of 2012 Kobe will be 34.
Jordan was 35 when he won his last ring.
Would Howard and Paul go to L.A.? Or would one go to New York?
Could that trio bring two more rings to L.A.?
Keep in mind by then the Heat should have that championship swag.

Either way, as much as it disappoints me to say it, the run of Lakers as is...... is over.

The Future is now.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Just Dirk It

Let me just come out and say it.

Dirk Nowitzki is the best player in this series.
By far.

Are you surprised?
He is averaging 28 points and 10 rebounds a game against the Lakers.
In fact, he is second in the NBA in scoring for the entire playoffs.
So let me ask: Is Dirk the best player in the world?

How many people would mention Dirk's name when they list the top five players in the world?
Do you think he would even crack most people's top ten list?

It's crazy to think how much he gets overlooked. 
If you think about it, he's kind of like a 7 foot version of Paul Pierce. 
Not super athletic. But super skilled, super crafty. Most importantly, he makes big shots.

He's also like Pierce in another manner.
Can you guess what his trade mark move is?

How do you stop that?
I heard Charles Barkley say the other day (who has always been a big fan of Dirk's) that he puts Nowitzki in the same class as Hakeem Olajuwon. He continued by saying both players take shots (fade-aways) that have a high degree of difficulty. But unfortunately for defenders, those shots are actually what they do best.

Not to harp on an old theme, but Dirk Nowitzki embodies the importance of having a mid-range jumper.
Furthermore, he presents another case study of how to utilize the step-back jumper.

Look how he uses it to body Pau Gasol at the end of game two and seal the win:

The truth is, Dirk has been this great, for a long time. We just choose not to recognize it.

Think about this: in the last decade only one team has made it out of the western conference besides the the Lakers and Spurs.

It was Dallas in '06.

That stat alone is amazing.
And you can't tell me that Dirk has had a star studded supporting cast by his side.
Sure, he has a solid squad, but you almost almost always need a star side-kick to win a chip.

Of course, that's the reason LeBron made his 'decision.'
Now think about the 'Dirk-cision'
He could have left Dallas over the summer, perhaps to team-up with another star as well.
But he stayed and stuck it out. Now look at him.

And how ironic would it be if Dallas faces Miami in the finals?
Dirk said in a recent interview he always thinks about the '06 finals and that all he wants is "another chance at the 'big shot' in the finals."
He is "desperate" for it.
Another chance for Dirk?
Did he ever think it may be against the same team?
Think about that.
It would be the 'redeem' team vs. the 'dream team.'

Can he seal the deal this time?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Difference between LeBron And Durant

To all those out there that think Durant is better than LeBron (although I've noticed that argument has quieted down):

LeBron's idea of defense:

Great block.

Durant's idea of defense:

Way to get out of the way.