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Miami Heat, Page 2

NBA Finals Preview: LeBron’s revenge denied?

2) San Antonio Spurs vs. 1) Miami Heat
 
How are the Spurs taking this in 7 games?
 
A 27-game win streak, the league’s MVP and the 10th best record ever in an 82 game season at 66-16. Nigh indomitable, no?
 
No. Not for these San Antonio Spurs.
 
The MAMBINO crew got together via e-mail this week and took our prediction poll, as per usual every round. However, unlike all the other rounds, the Heat weren’t a unanimous pick to win the series. They weren’t even the pick to win the series. MAMBINO had taken the Spurs in 7 games.
 
Perhaps the reasons are as simple as they’re the hottest team playing right now. The Spurs annihilated two of their three playoff opponents in two distinguished sweeps, with the war-torn Lakers going down in the first round and the stunningly over matched Grizzlies in the Western Conference Finals. There almost hasn’t been any area in which San Antonio has faltered in the past to months; they’ve rebounded extremely well, forced turnovers, scored efficiently and played shut down D (the Spurs haven’t allowed 100 points since Game 2 against the Golden State Warriors). They are executing their offense and defense to the letter, throwing screens upon screens for their cutting wings and using a revitalized Tim Duncan as a deadly force in the high post. It doesn’t seem to matter who the San Antonio is playing either: the uptempo Warriors tried to run the Spurs into the ground with Harrison Barnes acting as a small-ball power forward, while the Grizzlies tried to use Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol to bully their way inside. Both times San Antonio adjusted and re-adjusted, using their versatile roster to combat any offensive strategy their opponents tried.
 
No team has played as consistently well as the Spurs have since mid-April, Right now, they look like the best team in the league. It’s not a coincidence then that they have arguably the second best (or best) player in the playoffs. That’s Tony Parker.… Read more...

Los Angeles Lakers fans must root for LeBron James and the Miami Heat

No playbooks, no advanced metrics, no salary cap. Just pure, unadulterated, Lakers fandom.
 
And the fan in me knows that for the sake of the Lakers and Kobe Bryant, I cannot, under any circumstances, root for the San Antonio Spurs.
 
Even if that means pulling for LeBron James and his Miami Heat.
 
Lakers fans everywhere have been without a horse in the playoff picture since the first round. The Show met its end with a quiet, anonymous sweep at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs, but even the team’s foremost nemese have been vanquished for weeks. Their STAPLES Center hallmate Clippers were manhandled by the Memphis Grizzlies in the last four games of a six game series. Their eternal foes from Boston had a prideful 4-2 exit against the New York Knicks. Even recent Lakers killers like Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder had their championship hopes effectively killed in the first round, with Russ going down with a torn meniscus. With the exception of everyone’s most despised enemy in the Miami Heat, Lakers fans haven’t had much to cheer for–or against–lately.
 
However, as painful and disgusting as it may sound, Lakers Nation has to be rooting for LeBron in Game 7 tonight.
 
The primary reason? Legacy.
 
In the NBA, it’s all about heritage and rings, career achievements and leadership. Every player is responsible for defense and offense, staying healthy and trying to contribute on the court whenever possible. Unlike the NFL, where it’s extremely difficult to compare offensive and defensive players, or MLB in regards to pitchers versus hitters, comparing centers to guards isn’t as much of a stretch. Every NBA player has the same responsibility, no matter who we’re talking about: score points and prevent your opponents from doing the same.
 

(Read on at Silver Screen & Roll!)
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MAMBINO’s Eastern Conference Finals Preview

1) Miami Heat vs. 3) Indiana Pacers
 
Why do the Miami Heat take this in 5 games?
 
It was damn near impossible to find a consensus pick amongst the MAMBINO crew—we got votes for anywhere from a clean sweep to a 7 game slugfest. But the overwhelming sentiment was that a Pacers-Heat series couldn’t end in anything besides a NBA Finals beginning in South Beach.
 
But why? And how? Those are the questions that we seek to divine here on MAMBINO.
 
The Eastern Conference Finals seems to be a rare case in which the team with the best defense isn’t favored. Head coach Frank Vogel has organized the league’s best D, anchored inside-out by the massive 7’2” inside presence of Roy Hibbert and the wing excellence of Paul George and Lance Stephenson. Like the Chicago Bulls and Memphis Grizzlies, the Pacers rarely leave an open man, thanks to a minimal amount of inept one-on-one defenders, elite shot blockers and fantastic pick and roll coverage. Indiana led the league in defensive efficiency this year, including 5th in forced turnovers and 1st in opponents’ three-point makes and percentage. Even after all that, if the other team DID happen to get off a shot, they’d have to contend with the Pacers’ number one ranked rebounding. In short, if any team is going to score on Indiana, they’re going to have to hit a difficult shot, make their free throws and do all of that without second chance points.
 
So how could a team like this only win 49 games? Simple—they can’t score.… Read more...

NBA Playoffs: Conference Semifinals Predictions

1) Miami Heat vs. 5) Chicago Bulls
 
How do the champs make this a clean sweep?
 
El Mariachi: LeBron James.
 
Can the beat-up Bulls push this to 5 or 6 games?
 
KOBEsh: There really isn’t any logical reasoning to this prediction. Everyone on the Bulls is either physically injured or seriously ill. Derrick Rose’s brother continues his rope-a-dope with the NBA fan base at large, a sentence which leaves me wondering “Why the fuck are we listening to Derrick Rose’s brother anyway?”
 
But the most salient point in defense of Joakim Noah and company? The Chicago Bulls have all the ingredients to beat the Heat–extremely physical defenders, capable shot-blocking bigs that can avoid foul trouble and enough three-point shooting to disrupt a usually sterling Heat perimeter defense. To push this to a 6 game series, Da Bulls must outrebound the Heat by double-digits every single game; after all, this sometimes offensively challenged Chicago unit simply doesn’t have the playmaker to outwit superior defenders like James, Wade and Mario Chalmers on game-to-game basis. More importantly, Jimmy Butler, Marco Bellinelli and Nate Robinson have to continue to shoot in the upper-30% on threes in order to open up the middle for Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah. The Heat’s perimeter defense is completely predicated on their athletes moving inside-out so quickly, not on size alone. In order to counter-act that, those three perimeter players must hit shots.
 
Most importantly, the Bulls know they can beat Miami. Being the team that ended the 27-game streak in a raucous United Center, Chicago has that intangible confidence to combat a Heat squad that quite frankly, most oppositions are afraid of. … Read more...

Bad NBA Contract of the Week: Michael Beasley

(In the vein of the highly esteemed David Shoemaker, AKA The Masked Man’s Deadspin column entitled “Dead Wrestler of the Week”, we here at MAMBINO are going to parse our way through the worst contracts the NBA has to offer. Part dedication to the great men who have swindled their way to big checks, part commemoration to GMs that should have been fired and part commentary on the ills of a capitalist society gone wrong, we’ll be here every week with a look at the L’s worst deals)
 
Contract: 3 years, $18 million
Signed by:
Phoenix Suns
Salary this season: $5.7 million
2013 Slash Line: 10.1/3.8/1.5 in 75 games
Expires: 2015
 
If not for a torn ACL, there’d be even money this year on Derrick Rose finishing as a top-5 MVP candidate. The point guard already has the cache of being the 1st overall pick in 2008, that year’s Rookie of the Year and the 2011 MVP award to go along with three All-Star berths and one All-NBA First Team nod. He’s been the best player on two number 1 seeds in the Eastern Conference and—for a short time–arguably the best player at his position. When healthy and at the peak of his powers, Derrick Rose is one of the best six players in the NBA. There’s few who would question that.
 
But it wasn’t always a forgone conclusion. There was once a time where Derrick Rose wasn’t unquestionably the best. Where he would have been the second pick. And that was the debate leading up to the 2008 NBA Draft. Derrick Rose…or Michael Beasley?
 
The buzz that spring had been whether or not the former Memphis Tiger would be selected first over the former Kansas State Wildcat. Both finished as finalists for the John Wooden Players of the Year award, an honor that eventually went to Tyler Hansbrough of UNC. While Beasley finished as a first-team All-American, Rose had the most NCAA postseason success, taking his Tigers to the championship game only to lose to Mario Chalmers and the Kansas Jayhawks. It was obvious that Rose played a more important position in today’s NBA at point guard, but Beasley’s enticing combination of shooting and physicality drew several comparisons to Carmelo Anthony. Believe it or not, this all made for a hotly contested debate.Read more...

NBA Playoffs: Eastern Conference First Round Predictions

It’s Christmas kids. Except instead of Jesus being born, we’re celebrating a bunch of overpaid athletes play a game we’d all happily do for a fraction of the money. It’s pretty much the same thing, right?
 
Let’s get right to it–MAMBINO official predictions and commentary from the whole team:
 
1) Miami Heat vs. 8) Milwaukee Bucks
 
Why is this a clean sweep for the Heat?

 
El Mariachi: LeBron James.  … Read more...

By the Numbers: The Lakers’ 33-game win streak vs the Heat’s 24-game win streak

(Your weekly dose of Silver Screen & Roll goodness. My newest. Dig it)

“In basketball you can get a unique team and Miami has a unique team. They have great three-point shooting and they’re never out of a game because of that and then they have the best player in the game who does all the little things. I never thought this streak would live forever, no…I just think it’s a streak that could very easily be broken this year.”–Jerry West, Hall of Famer and member of the 1971-1972 NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers

 
The 1971-1972 Los Angeles Lakers accomplished what no professional team had ever done before–in fact, it wasn’t even close. That LA team won 33 straight games, which still stands as an NBA record today. That streak was 13 more than the 20-gamer by the 1970-1971 Milwaukee Bucks, who were on their way to the town’s only NBA championship.
 
The Lakers did all this on the amazing play of three Hall of Fame players, and the inspiration of one more. West, Wilt Chamberlain and Gail Goodrich teamed up to form one of the most lethal inside-out combinations of all time, their play spurred on by the surprise early season retirement of Elgin Baylor. The first of their 33 straight began on November 5th, 1971 and ended nearly two months later on January 9th, 1972 in a 120-104 loss to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and his Milwaukee Bucks. The wins helped the Lakers set an NBA record at 69-13, a mark that stood for 24 years until Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls broke it. Regular season immortality wasn’t enough for that Lakers team–a few months after their win streak ended, the Lakers won the franchise’s first title in Los Angeles, a first for West and a second for Chamberlain.
 
But now this 40-year-old record is on the verge of being broken by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the rest of the Miami Heat. The reigning NBA champions have won 24 straight games which now ranks as the second-most all-time. With only 3 of their next 10 games against playoff teams, what was once thought of as an unbreakable streak is now within range of turning breakable.
 
Inevitably, there have been comparisons between these two teams, with the Worldwide Leader summoning up images of West, Chamberlain and company with every Heat victory. At this point, there’s little doubt that the Lakers’ 33-game streak is the more impressive of the two. However, with the improvements in sports science and scouting, as well as the expansive media and public scrutiny following the team, is winning 24 games in today’s NBA more impressive than it would have been in 1972? Is what LeBron and company are doing that much more difficult than how West’s Lakers glided through one of the low points in league history?
 
(Peep the rest after the break!)

 
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THE GREAT PODBINO Episode #3

We’re back with THE GREAT PODBINO, Episode #3!

Join El Miz, BockerKnocker and myself, along with the pro cutting of Producer Mags, as we navigate along the waters of the early season NBA. In Ep. 3, we’ll give our Fact or Fiction as to the best records in the league–Memphis, San Antonio, Oklahoma City and Miami–as well as some unexpected win-loss dockets.

And of course, some substantial Knicks and Lakers chatter.

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The Asinine Banners Hanging in the Miami Heat’s Arena

13 Chamberlain. 44 West. 32 Johnson. 33 Abdul-Jabbar. 25 Goodrich. 22 Baylor. 

2 Auerbach. 33 Bird. 00 Parish. 17 Havlicek. 6 Russell. 3 Johnson. 32 McHale. 16 Cousy. 

10 Frazier. 33 Ewing. 19 Reed. 22 DeBusschere. 15 Monroe.

Those are the retired numbers hanging in the rafters in Los Angeles, Boston and New York. You know who those legends are just by their numbers, let alone last names. They’re surrounded by 35 combined championship banners, and little more than that. But after all, is there very much more to be said? Banners are hung in honor of tremendous accomplishments, whether that be Hall of Fame careers that have made indelible marks on a franchise, or a championship forever emblazoned on the docket of a league’s history. Growing up in Los Angeles, going to school in Boston and living in New York, I’ve come to appreciate pennants hung from the rafters because it means there’s been something worth celebrating. Maybe that’s spoiled, maybe that’s unrealistic, but maybe that’s just the goal of sports. Maybe it’s to appreciate the effort, but celebrate the victory. Anything in between is great, but not worth immortalizing up above the team, it’s paying customers and a national television audience.

And this past week, the Miami Heat have yet again taken another big fat crap on what it means to be honored. 

Last Saturday, the Heat raised their second banner in a week, this time to commemorate the Olympic gold medal win of LeBron James in this past summer’s 2012 Summer games. This pennant will fly alongside a banner for Dwyane Wade’s 2008 gold and Alonzo Mourning’s and Tim Hardaway’s 2000 gold.

Team USA doesn’t play in the American Airlines Arena. In fact, the Arena has never held an Olympic contest or qualifying contest. The Heat, much like eight of the other teams in the league right now, have a reigning Olympic champion on their squad. To date, the Heat are the only team who seem to deem this individual accomplishment at all important enough to raise a banner to be visible for all time. If this were the case, why should we raise banners when players break scoring records? Congratulations Kobe, you’re the sixth greatest scorer ever! Here’s a banner! Oh Dirk, you won an MVP in 2007! Here’s something to mark up your big day!

It’s very significant to win a basketball gold in the Olympics. In Croatia. In the states, it’s what’s expected. It’s an accomplishment to be celebrated, but certainly not with a type of marker reserved for winning a NBA title or retiring a number because it will always remind the fans and franchise of that player. Heat owner Mickey Arison is treating his all-world athletes like fat children who just received “Good Try!” ribbons for entering the race. It’s a joke.

But he didn’t stop the silliness there. Along with their two championship banners for their 2006 and 2012 titles (an extremely historically significant achievement – with two trophies, the Heat only hold the towel for seven franchises with more titles than them), the following banners fly from the rafters of American Airlines Arena:

33 Mourning. Completely defensible. ‘Zo is one of the greatest players in the franchise’s short history, a borderline Hall of Famer who ranks in the top 5 of eleven major offensive categories, and a 2-time Defensive Player of the Year with the team.

10 Hardaway: Much less understandable, but had six great seasons in South Beach, garneri… Read more...

MAMBINO’s NBA Finals Pick

(Part of this is lifted from the Silver Screen and Roll crew’s season prediction roundtable post. Check it out when you have the time!)

NBA Finals Pick: Los Angeles Lakers…and Miami Heat
 

Even as what would amount to a 51 win team (prorated over a 82 game season), the Lakers were still very middling last year. They needed to get vastly better on both ends of the court if they wanted to compete for a Western Conference Finals berth, much less a NBA title shot…which they very well may have done. 
Defensively, I expect the Lakers to improve leaps and bounds immediately with Dwight Howard on the court. As I detailed yesterday in MAMBINO’s Defensive Player of the Year prediction, D12’s impact on the team should be stark. In his few games of preseason action, there was such a canyon-like difference on his activity versus Andrew Bynum’s that, paired with how much better he made mediocre defensive players in Orlando, it’s easy to think that LA’s defense will be suffocating. Offensively, the team could take months to adjust to one another with a new system and point guard, but over that stretch I can see the defense making up for the confusion on the scoring end.
The key for the Lakers was getting to the Finals; Oklahoma City was the most troublesome matchup for LA, especially with Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins able to give Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard the most one-on-one trouble as any duo in the league. However, with the Harden trade, I feel like the Lakers are much better suited not only offensively without his defense on Kobe, but also defensively in regards to staying in front of only two of the best 20 players in the league, rather than three. It’s not a forgone conclusion that the Lakers can get past OKC–how can you underestimate Durant and Westbrook?–but the prospects just got a lot better. 

Moving onto the NBA Finals, the Lakers should have an advantage against both of their prospective Eastern Conference counterparts, Miami and Boston. Against the Celtics, the Lakers should have the upper hand, as the Lakers front line should be able to punish Boston’s down low. Boston’s athleticism is nearly on par with the 30-something Lakers, and like the LA teams since their 2008 Finals loss, this is a physical squad that isn’t going to get muscled about. While Rajon Rondo will be uncontainable in front of Steve Nash, I suspect the massive advantages the Lakers have in the paint will over power whatever Boston can throw regarding a potentially jumper-happy team. 

Against Miami, the advantages aren’t so cut and dry. On one hand, the Lakers will be able to slow the game down and pound the Heat with a half-court offense that, if the Show is able to get that far, they’ll surely have mastered. Gasol, Howard and Kobe, some of the best high post-low post players in the league, are a handful against any defense, especially with the bevy of cutters and newly-minted shooter the Lakers have.  Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony are Miami’s big men, so on paper it is quite academic. The Lakers should dominate. 
But the confetti paper under Miami’s rafter from last June speaks volumes. The Heat‘s swarming half court defense showed that Erik Spoelstra’s squad is full of versatile, athletic and intelligent defenders who hedge at the right times and know exactly where to cut off passing lanes. In the Finals, the Heat forced Oklahoma City into a series of isolation plays and low-percentage jump shots by packing the paint and on the s
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