Posts about Miami Heat

Trying to figure out the Pacers decline and about last night in the NBA

4-2

At the beginning of the season, the Pacers looked to have a specific goal in mind: have the best record in the eastern conference so that when it comes time to play Miami in the playoffs, home court belongs to Indiana. I like the plan from the start. Try to have as much advantage over the Heat as possible when the inevitable rematch happened. As the season went on, things seemed to favor Indiana. Miami was facing some injury problems and fatigue seems to have brought their championship-level defense down a notch. But after a stellar first half the season, Indiana seems to have hit a rut that has no ending in sight. The Pacers appeared to have slowed down a bit just after the all-star break but the initial diagnosis was just a small slump. Then March came around and after turning things around (post 4 game losing streak), Indiana has lost 6 of their last 8 and have relinquished the top spot in the conference. Has Indiana essentially given the conference to Miami? Remember, the Heat haven’t been playing their best basketball as of late but still manage to have a better record than the Pacers heading into the homestretch. Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s analyze the Indiana problem a bit. They were blown out by the scorching-hot Spurs last game but the two previous losses came against the Cavs and Wizards, two teams that they could very well see in the postseason. Where has the offense been for Indiana? I know defense is their staple but failing to break the 80-point barrier in three straight games is something college level teams struggle with, not an NBA team. Chemistry is clearly an issue as my multiple sources (still, just Twitter) have confirmed that the problem is most likely internally. And when a team is imploding from the inside out, it always hits rock bottom before they see any real daylight. Maybe this is rock bottom for Indiana. A home game against a bad Pistons team should be just what the Pacers need. Only four games until a big showdown in Miami that looks like it will decide the top seed in the conference.

Crucial action last night in the NBA. Unfortunately for Mavericks fans, like myself, around the country, it was not a good night of basketball. The Warriors were in Dallas to square off against the Mavericks in a massive game that had lots of implications in the lower half of the western conference playoff picture. Only a game and a half separated these two teams and within that margin, four different spots in the conference were affected. Stephen Curry’s go-ahead shot with .1 seconds left was heartbreaking for Dallas, but exhilarating for Golden State fans, as their team inches towards securing a playoff spot. I’m not going to sit here and complain about Jermaine O’neal and his obvious goal-tend just before that play. The referees were a bit spotty throughout the game and it was only a matter of time before a crucial call didn’t go in favor of the Mavericks. It’s just a shame that such a good game was influenced by such a crucial call. Honestly, it’s just a shame that one of the top 9 teams in the western conference is going to be out the playoffs. One team that won’t be missing out will be Brooklyn, clinching a playoff spot last night after an impressive win over the Rockets. It was nice present for their home fans after the franchise suffered such an abysmal start. Could Brooklyn make some real noise in an eastern conference where no team looks entirely impressive? I’m a bit skeptical but a big win over their crosstown rival Knicks would sway me a bit. Out in the west, the Blazers had a nice win over the Lakers. Portland seems to have turned their late-season slump around as of late. Winners of four straight, led by Aldrige and Lillard, as they head down the homestretch. If those two have it going on full cylinders as the season ends, i’d be careful if I were on the other side of it. Don’t forget how crucial their home court can be in the playoffs.

There are thirteen total games tonight so expect some fireworks.

View All Photos ›

Recapping the NBA’s big Christmas Day slate

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors

For a lot of sports fans around the league, Christmas Day is when the “real” NBA season begins. A lot of it has to do with the fact that NFL season is, unfortunately, winding down and more of the focus is shifted towards the Association. Another reason the NBA gets so much attention on the 25th of December is because the entire day is dedicated to showcasing the best teams around the league, going head to head in some of the best basketball that the league has to offer. Unfortunately for the NBA, most of yesterday’s games didn’t include a few of it’s best teams and didn’t provide it’s best product. Luck wasn’t on David Stern’s side. It’s not his fault that some of the biggest teams in the biggest markets are dealing with franchise-level injuries. The game schedules were put into place before the season began and no one thought that at this point of the season, the Nets, Bulls, Knicks and Lakers would ALL be dealing with key injuries. At the same time, how were the Pacers not included in yesterday’s festivities? Portland (tied atop the west) was also missing but no one really expected, before the season, that they’d be among the league’s elite. Not the same for Indiana, the Heat’s biggest obstacle for a fourth straight Finals appearance and tied for the best record in the league. Most people thought that Indiana would continue to battle for the eastern conference’s top position during the regular season and once the postseason began. So, once again, I’ll wonder: why weren’t they included?

Let’s get to some of the teams that actually played in yesterday’s game. Like the past few couple of seasons, the NBA was featuring a quintuple-header. I actually felt bad for the NBA countdown crew (ESPN and ABC) because they were basically dealing with a 13 hour work day on Christmas Day. And to boot, getting up early for a Nets-Bulls game is not something that’s really worth doing. Are the Nets, as a team and franchise, in some serious trouble heading into the future? I’m not talking about just this season. The next few years and beyond look bleak for the Nets, no draft picks while being locked into some pretty big deals. While the Bulls are ugly to watch without Rose, at least Chicago showed some heart in their victory over the Nets yesterday. Not showing heart were Moe’s Knicks. New York got pounded by the Thunder yesterday, led by their duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. I’ll sum up how easy it was for Oklahoma City: Durant scored 29 points on 10-for-16 shooting seemingly without sweating and Westbrook had a triple double halfway through the 3rd quarter. Oh yeah, the Kicks also suffered the worst defeat by any home team on Christmas Day. Let’s shift over to the west coast, where LeBron and co were visiting a depleted Lakers team. Surprisingly enough this game didn’t keep the trend of complete blowouts for the day. The Heat looked in control for most of the game, especially halfway through the second quarter and after but the Lakers hung around and almost stole the game. After giving up the lead in the 4th, Miami re-gained composure and closed out the game. Still, lots of a props to a scrappy Lakers team who played well enough to make this an entertaining game worth tuning in to.

The best was saved for last as the quality of basketball got better as the day went on. The Rockets were in San Antonio (hosting their first Christmas Day game) against the Spurs in a good ole fashioned Texas shootout. Normally Houston is sort of a weird team but they played very sound and balanced basketball. It’s something that the Spurs set the bar doing so but during yesterday’s game, the Rockets raced out to a big lead, forcing the Spurs to play catch up the entire game. San Antonio managed to get within striking distance a couple of times. That was, until James Harden took over in the 4th quarter. Harden dropped 16th in the final quarter as he led the Rockets to a big win over their in-state rival. The most entertaining game of the night came late in the day when the Clippers visited the Warriors. A physical contest that included two ejections (Blake Griffin and Draymond Green), two technical fouls, two flagrant fouls and shoving even after the final buzzer went off. The Warriors won the game after a last second heave by the Clippers was short but up until that moment, it was either team’s game. When your coaching staff has to separate the sides after the game is over, there’s definitely some bad blood. I’m already looking forward to when these two teams go at against because they provide a good basketball product with some of that old school (pictured above) roughness.

One a side note: I’m with Dirk on this one when it comes to the special edition uniforms. Not a fan of the sleeves or the giant logos on the chest.

View All Photos ›

NBA Wednesday: the East turning into a two-team race; Kobe’s ridiculous contract

11-27

News hit a couple of days ago that Derrick Rose would once again need knee surgery and once again would miss the entire season. It’s a tragic story that can’t help but make basketball fans feel bad for Rose, the Bulls and their fanbase. Even the biggest Rose critic can admit that the NBA is better with him in the league. It’s still questionable how Rose, out for basically two years straight, will be able to perform once he’s completely healed again. Will he ever get back to his MVP level? Will he even get to 80% of that form? It’s a gloomy situation in Chicago but despite missing their franchise player, their season and the rest of league must move on. The show must go on, as they say. But what kind of show will we be watching? The western conference is as good as ever but aside from the Heat and Pacers, is any other franchise in the east worth watching on a regular basis? Every team is going to one of “those nights” where they play well enough to upset a superior opponent, that’s just the way the league is. Aside from those nights is where the problem arises. Can fans rely on quality basketball on a regular basis knowing that the eastern conference has very much turned into a two-team race? It’s almost astounding how much better the Pacers and Heat (1 and 2 in the conference) are than the rest of the conference. If the playoffs were to start right now, I don’t see any team giving Indiana or Miami more than a five game series. A lot of the problem lies with the New York teams. The Knicks are usually towards the top of the conference and the new-look Nets were supposed to contend for the top spot in the conference. Right now the Knicks and Nets are a combined 7-20. Astonishing. Could they turn things around? Well they’re going to have to get 100% healthy before their fans can get excited.

On the other side of the country, things are more competitive. The Spurs are doing their usual thing of playing fundamental basketball while taking care of business. Portland, surprisingly enough, is still staying among the best in the west. The Thunder, Clippers and Rockets are fighting to keep up with the elites and then there’s the dogfight for the rest of the spots in the west. But the biggest news around the conference this week was Kobe signing another contract extension to essentially stay with the Lakers for the remainder or his career. The Lakers didn’t officially announce the exact details of the deal but plenty of sources have suggested that it’s an extra two years for $48.5 million. Those details bring up some inevitable questions. If all Kobe really does care about is more championships, why sign for that much money? Yes, we all know that Kobe means much more to the Lakers than what he earns, but does that leave room for anyone else? Most superstars that are hitting tail-end of their careers tend to take less money, knowing that it’s best possible way that they will continue to be on a championship level team. Can Kobe lead another team to a title? Well, i’m not so sure anymore. I’m skeptical because of his age and because of the severity of the injury that’s he is coming back from. That’s taking into consideration that Kobe is a machine and the hardest working player in the league. It wouldn’t surprise me if he reached the same level he left off at but I also wouldn’t be shocked if Kobe only reaches about 75-80% of what he used to be. And if it’s the latter, how room does Kobe’s contract leave for another big free agent to come join him?

Key games this weekend: (tonight) Lakers at Nets; Heat at Cavs; Nuggets at Wolves; Spurs at Thunder; Warriors at Mavs (Friday) Nets at Rockets; Warriors at Thunder; Wizards at Pacers (Saturday) Bulls at Cavs; Wolves at Mavs; Rockets at Spurs.

View All Photos ›

NBA Wednesday: Indiana’s dominance and other notes from the past week

11-13

A lot of the country’s basketball fans weren’t focused on the NBA last night. In fact, most of the attention was put on the game at the collegiate level. There were some marquee match ups featuring what figures to be three of the next superstars in the NBA. I’ll be honest, I didn’t watch much of Duke, Kansas or Kentucky mostly because i’d rather watch my Mavericks. I don’t have much interest in basketball at the college level unless it involves joining a pool for brackets come March. Chances are that Wiggins, Parker and Randle will all be great players at the NBA level but until I actually see it, let’s pump the breaks and worry about what’s actually going on at the NBA level. Who’s dominating the league so far in this early season? So far this season, the Pacers have looked like the most dominant team in the league on a nightly basis. The defense and coaching is going to be there without a doubt. That’s one of the staples of Indiana’s game. But let’s add Paul George, second in a lot of early MVP races, who is continuing to play at the level everyone expects him to after his performance in last season’s playoffs. Let’s also look at the bench, much improved during the offseason and it shows on a nightly basis. Their offense still looks a bit stale sometimes but it’s not a glaring problem, just their style of basketball. What’s also interesting is that Danny Granger is set to return to his first game sooner than later. How will that affect a Pacers team that’s off to a franchise best 8-0 and the only undefeated team left in the league? I can’t imagine the train stopping anytime soon. Their schedule gets a little more challenging in the next few weeks but I could see them winning out the rest of the month barring an upset. The real challenge for this great Pacers team comes in December when their month starts with a five road games in 8 days against some of the top teams in the western conference, followed by the Heat at home. Until then let’s just enjoy what they’ve currently doing because despite getting almost no attention, the Pacers are the best team this season so far.

Speaking of no attention, the Spurs just seem to do what they do every single year. Play good basketball and win games. Right now they’re 7-1 and atop the western conference and I don’t know anyone who would bet some serious money on San Antonio giving up that position. Who would take their position if they slip for a few games? Well the obvious answer is OKC, especially now that Russell Westbrook is back and continues to look healthier as the games go by. To no one’s surprise, Durant leads the league in scoring (30.2/gm) but it’s going to rest of the supporting cast that I feel will ultimately make a difference. How the rest of the west shakes out is going to be fascinating to watch. From the Suns (how are they still there?) on down to the Lakers, all of those teams will be fighting for 3 through 8. Out east it continues to look like only the Heat will keep up with the Pacers, at least until Rose and the Bulls get themselves together and are 100% healthy. Most impressive players this season? These are aside from the obvious ones like LeBron or Durant. I’d have to go with either Kevin Love and Anthony Davis. Love finally looks healthy again, second in scoring behind Durant and leading the league in rebounding. And with Anthony Davis, well I think we’re all being reminded why he was the consensus #1 overall pick just a couple years ago. 

View All Photos ›

NBA Wednesday: first week’s biggest surprises

11-6

Only one week into the NBA season and fans have much to discuss because there are been lots of surprises. First let’s get past some of the not-so-surprising things about this season: the Celtics and Jazz are going to the battling it out for worst record in the league. AKA the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes. Now there are other bad teams who have started off hot and will eventually crash down to earth but Boston and Utah seem to be adamant on leading the race. I’ve seen some early Wiggins highlights and from the looks of it, he’s everything that you would want in a #1 overall pick. Good luck to both the Celtics, Jazz and other teams in their tanking endeavors. While it’s very early on, something else that doesn’t surprise me is that the Pacers and Heat look like they’re going to meet again in the eastern conference finals. Indiana is the only undefeated team left (4-0) and while Miami has looked shaky for stretches, everyone knows the Heat are looking to make the playoffs and then turn it up a notch. Plus, they have the best player on the planet. Out west the conference looks pretty stacked like it always does, all of the top 8 only have one loss with Houston leading the way at 4 wins. The Clippers, Spurs, Warriors, Mavericks and Thunder belong up there. The Timberwolves have looked well but with them, it’s always a matter of how healthy they can stay. The Kevin Love-Ricky Rubio is so fun to watch but in the back of mind i’m just thinking “please don’t get injuried.” But wait, what in the world are the Suns doing there among the one-loss teams in the west? Well that’s our first surprise of the season.

Before the season began most people put the Suns down there in the “Riggin’ for Wiggins” group but they’ve gotten off to a surprisingly hot start. They’ve been fortunate because of who their opponents have been to start the season but tonight’s game against the Spurs should bring them back down to earth, if only for one night. Phoenix has a cupcake schedule for the rest of the month but December will be much tougher for this young team that has a lot to prove. Speaking of a lot to prove, how about the Sixers? Sure, Philadelphia’s been surprisingly good to start the season but here’s something that’s not a fluke: Michael Carter-Williams. There’s a young man that is going to have a bright future so let’s all just sit back and enjoy what he’s done so far and what he’s going to do. Switching gears to Chicago because there’s lots of debate to whether or not the Bulls’ (specifically Derrick Rose) slow start is just rust for an injury-plagued team or if there’s some real concern. If I were among the Bulls fanbase I wouldn’t start panicking anytime soon. Chicago is going to win a lot of games this season but when your team is as injured as the Bulls were last season, it’s going to take some real time to get back to their elite level. If we’re still having this discussion a month from now, then i’d start to worry. Also causing worry are Moe’s Knicks. Or is Moe more of a Heat fan still? Anyways, the Knicks are dealing with issues on the offensive side of the ball. Melo is going to be the main weapon but he’s not getting much help. Add Tyson Chandler’s injury last night and this might go south pretty quick for the Knicks.

Games to watch this weekend: (Wed) Bulls at Pacers; Warriors at Wolves; Mavs at Thunder (Thu) Clippers at Heat; Lakers at Rockets (Fri) Cavs at Sixers; Nets at Pistons; Mavs at Wolves; Warriors at Spurs; (Sat) Pacers at Nets; Clippers at Rockets; Warriors at Grizzlies.

View All Photos ›

Recapping opening night and looking forward to this NBA season

10-30

It feels really good to have the NBA regular season back. A midst the NFL season reaching it’s regular season peak, it was quite refreshing to see some basketball back on the screen. Of course it’s great to have the “Inside the NBA” crew back for another season of the greatest pre/post game show in all of American sports. Even though he didn’t have a good game (thanks to Miami’s defense), it’s really good to have Derrick Rose back in a Bulls uniform. Miami’s swarm defense spoiled his comeback, limiting Rose to just 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting. The Heat went on to rout the Bulls and after the first half, it looked like Miami wasn’t going to take it easy on the Bulls at all. The Big 3 did their part but it was the combination of their bench (Cole, Allen, Battier) that was the clear difference.

Something else that was clear after last night’s games? The Orlando Magic are only one game into the season and they’re already tanking. I understand that this upcoming draft is supposed to be among the all-time greats but c’mon Orlando, at least have a respectable season. The Pacers took advantage of the situation and to no one’s surprise, they went on to win the game in a comfortable fashion. The Magic and Pacers are teams that will end up on opposite sides of the conference. Speaking of teams that are supposed to finish quite opposite, how about the Lakers surprising the Clippers last night? This is a Clippers teams that’s supposed to finish among the top seeds in the west and this gutted Lakers team isn’t supposed to amount to anything this season. At least until Kobe returns and is at 100%. But don’t tell the other Lakers players that. Enter Xavier Henry (career-high 22 pts) and the rest of the Lakers bench. They simply out-hustled the Clippers, extending their lead in the 4th quarter when it mattered most. Props to the Lakers showing some heart and not rolling over just because of some silly pre-season rankings.

Now it’s only one game so let’s not consider a Heat-Lakers Finals a complete lock just yet. The regular season is a marathon, not a sprint but it’s the type of marathon that you watch all along the way. Every team has hopes that this is their year, despite going against overwhelming odds. Well unless you’re the Magic, 76ers or Suns. Then you’re just looking to get a top 5 pick in the draft. There are in fact 14 games tonight so chances are your team is playing. I’ll be doing a weekly post about the NBA every Wednesday unless something crazy happens. Good to have NBA basketball back. And of course, on my part, go Mavs.

View All Photos ›

Claudia Romani Better Get Heat Season Tickets For Her Team Spirt!

Exclusive - Claudia Romani Shows Her Team Spirit In A Miami Heat Mini-Dress

Photo Credit: INF Photo

View All Photos ›

LeBron, D.Wade or somebody on the team better hook it up–Although I’m sure their significant will probably take offense.

The always shrewd marketer Claudia Romani was seen working her sexy mojo outside American Airlines Arena earlier this afternoon. The scrumptious Miami-based Italian model showed her support for the Miami Heat in a teenie-tiny Heat mini-dress (is there any other sports team that sells mini-dresses?!) as she went to pick up her tickets for the upcoming NBA season, which begins October 29 when the Heat host the Chicago Bulls (D-Rose BETTER BE PLAYING, DAMN IT!!).

(more…)

View All Photos ›

Heat edge out Spurs in game 7 to repeat as NBA Champions

6-21

The 2013 NBA Finals will go down as a classic. Game 6 was clearly the apex with it’s endless amount of memorable moments but last night’s game 7 certainly lived up to the quality of the rest of the series. Both teams looked exactly how many expected: having battled through a crazy series only to settle it all with a final 7th game. The Spurs showed lots of heart all the way to the finish but it was simply Miami’s night and the Heat walked away with the championship trophy. Of course there are things you can point out about the Spurs’ approach and game plan (daring LeBron and Wade to shoot) but it was never a question of effort or wanting it less than the Heat. With less than a minute left in the game and the chance to tie, Duncan missed a shot in the lane that he’s made thousands of times. I found it impossible not feel bad for Duncan after he missed that shot. Uncanny and unfortunate for San Antonio but it was the shot that sealed their fate as the second place team. Manu Ginobili is the easy scapegoat for this loss but Danny Green’s normally efficient shot from behind the arc was nowhere to be found. Also, those were some REALLY questionable play calls by Popovich towards the end of the game. But it’s not all doom and gloom for the Spurs. Well, if Kawhi Leonard can make his free throws, then the young man looks to have all the tools of being a future all-star and potentially a superstar. Nothing but respect from myself and NBA fans around the world for the Spurs in their loss.

Unfortunately for Heat haters around the country (there are a lot) it was Miami’s night, repeating as champions of the NBA and are once again kings of the basketball world. LeBron James was phenomenal (37 pts, 12 reb, 4 ast) and was awarded the Finals MVP for a second straight year. But even though James was the best player on the court last night, Dwyane Wade came up big with his shooting from the floor and Shane Battier got hot from behind the arc to add more scoring. Miami taking advantage of the shooting opportunities given to them was the stuff of champions and it was enough to take home the title. Who’s the happiest about winning the title? Well, obviously the teammates winning their first title but even more that guy named Chris Bosh. Zero points last night Bosh? Are you kidding me? Bosh was clearly going to be the target of all targets to blame had Miami not been able to win last night’ game. Hind sight though, as the celebration continues in South Beach and now going forward the word “dynasty” starts to be thrown around. It’s a little early for that because I think that a team needs to win at least three titles in 4-5 years to be considered a true dynasty. Remember that LeBron was VERY close to being 1-3 in the Finals with another summer of questions so let’s calm down for a second and continue to celebrate or hate on this Miami Heat team. We have all summer to discuss and debate the long term implications.

View All Photos ›