The Heat welcome back the affable-but-troubled Mike Beasley. Does this pickup, along with the Greg Oden signing, flip the script on whether to cheer for the Heat?
Andy G: In I Wear the Black Hat, Chuck Klosterman devotes a chapter to hating rock bands. He runs through a list of every band he’s ever hated, explains the specific point in his life, and why that particular group evoked irrationally negative feelings from him. The chapter is largely focused on The Eagles. In the end, Klosterman forms the discomfiting conclusion that he now no longer possesses the capacity to hate rock bands. Even The Eagles. (He included the band three different times on his list.)
He explains why this is problematic:
Being emotionally fragile is an important part of being a successful critic; it’s an integral element to being engaged with mainstream art, assuming you aspire to write about it in public. If you hate everything, you’re a banal asshole . . . but if you don’t hate anything, you’re boring. You’re useless. And you end up writing about why you can no longer generate fake feelings that other people digest as real.
Klosterman goes on to explain his “brain’s unwillingness to hold an unexplained opinion,” and articulates a general feeling that I’ve struggled with on this blog. Caring about sports — or art — is not a rational exercise. Hating a professional athlete or sports team is as dumb as hating a rock band. Hating a professional athlete is as irrational as loving one. Those are emotions far too strong to hold for people that don’t even know that you exist.
Reading that chapter reminded me of the Miami Heat and its best player, LeBron James.
I hated The Decision. I hated LeBron’s *decision* itself to overlap his talents with Dwyane Wade’s, I hated the primetime stomach-punch to Cleveland, and I hated the Kobe rip-off, “taking my talents” delivery pitch. I hated everything about LeBron exercising his rights as a free agent.
Four things about Heat Hatred:
“For the series, the Heat have scored 131.7 points per 100 possessions when James is on the floor without Wade, and just 100.8 when the two have shared the floor, per NBA.com. The Heat are minus-12 for the series, but the James–Mike Miller–Ray Allen super-shooting trio is a crazy plus-50 in just 68 minutes, per NBA.com. The James-Miller-Chalmers trio is plus-43 in just 80 minutes, and the combination of those four players is a stunning plus-49 in just 29 total minutes together, per NBA.com.”
–Zach Lowe, on the Heat’s success during the Finals with LeBron on the floor next to three-point shooters (rather than with D-Wade). As we continue the search for tip-the-scale factors, this one looms large heading into the season finale. Game 6 was [barely] saved by the Wade-less lineup in the middle of the fourth, and nearly lost when Wade went back in. He’s not healthy and he’s a poor enough fit with James that a great coach like Popovich will exploit it for all its worth. The rest of Lowe’s fantastic piece here: (http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/post/_/id/66008/10-key-thoughts-on-the-greatest-most-insane-nba-finals-game-in-years)
The Wolves are depleted by injuries and totally removed from contention for a playoff spot. So when the defending champs come to town and J.J. Barea gets into basketball’s version of a fight with a future hall of famer, that kind of steals the show. As the replay makes clear, his foul on Ray Allen wasn’t THAT out of line. He thought he was fouled on the other end going for a layup, and then again when Allen lightly shoved off in the backcourt. So J.J. had enough and put some extra weight — to the extent the little guy has much to throw around — into a blocking foul that perhaps doubled as a body check. Allen fell to the ground and flew up angry.
As is the case with all pro basketball players not named West or Peace (!) it was just a show. Some woofing and “HOLD ME BACK” but no real harm done. But the crowd enjoyed the uptick in feistiness — that is, until Barea was hit with an inexplicable Flagrant 2 and was ejected from the game. That was quickly followed by Adelman’s own technical and a rare departure from Minnesota Nice that had Wolves fans lobbing all kinds of personal insults at the significant contingent of fans donning Miami Red and Black. (This part was actually pretty stupid and made me feel like I was at an NFL game. The Heat fans in my section weren’t provoking anything.)
What had the look of a surprisingly-competitive game (76-70 Miami led) quickly became a rout in favor of the road team. After awarding Allen 3 free throws for the flagrant and technical, Alexey Shved had a 3-pointer waived off for “kicking.” Then Dante Cunningham was whistled for a charge. The Wolves became unglued and Dwyane Wade took over from there. The final score was 97-81.
Some observations from the other 47 minutes and 59 seconds of action:
When I saw that the Wolves were a 8.5-point dogs, my naive optimism dwindled pretty significantly. Vegas usually knows what’s up. In this case, Ricky Rubio was sitting out. The Wolves were on the tail end of a road back-to-back. Miami was rested. Miami has LeBron James. The Heat are the world champs. After dropping a winnable one last night, this would be a challenge. How’d it play out? Check it out below the fold.
Former Wolves guard Mike Miller and those other guys host the Wolves tonight in Miami
The Wolves take their talents to Miami tonight to play the incumbent Finals champions, after losing a winnable game against the Magic Monday night in Orlando. Well, maybe not all their talents: Ricky Rubio is not expected to play in tonight’s game, as part of a program that will have him avoiding back-to-backs until he’s cleared by team medical staff. Rubio, who struggled last night, will never say never, however, suggesting there’s a chance that he will play tonight if his knee isn’t too sore.
The Wolves could certainly use Rubio, even with Ricky coming off a subpar performance against the Magic where the rust clearly showed. Rubio ended the night with 0 points, 4 assists, and 3 turnovers in 16 minutes of action last night after having a nice Ricky-like 8/9/4/3 line in Saturday’s win over Dallas.
Against the Heat, the Wolves need Rubio far more than they did against Dallas or Orlando, and not just because the Heat are (by far) the best of the three teams. Why? Continue reading
Chris Bosh will be suiting up the rest of the playoffs
Andy G: It’s been announced that Chris Bosh will be out indefinitely with an abdominal strain. While “indefinitely” is ambiguous and Spoelstra says the MRI results were a pleasant surprise (no tear, apparently) it sounds like there’s a good chance that Bosh will miss multiple games and possibly even the rest of the Pacers series. We know how good the Pacers are.
What does this injury mean for the already-injury-riddled Playoffs?