6.11.2006

EAR TO THE STREETS



Because this game has offered very little to write back to the fleet about, I will begin this obligatory post with three indelible gems from NBA-TV. I don't watch that shit the same way I refuse to ever buy 45's, but after tonight I might be forced to reconsider that on account of my duty to humanity.

1. Ms. O'Neal, interview Ms. Stackhouse. It took me a good minute and a half to figure that why one was ostensibly in the journalist's seat, which actually made it more stilted than it might've otherwise been. There were some priceless tidbits—Shaq can't talk about "work" around the house so "sulks around the bedroom" following a tough loss, Stack helps out with the cooking by grilling a bunch—but mostly I was into the idea that NBA spouses could for once get the same attention as other rich people's wives.

2. Bosh and Marquis. Bosh sticking a mic up in Daniels's face would've been enough. It would've been enough to watch this just knowing that, as few minutes as Marquis has been getting, his opinion is worthless. Hell, any glimpse we get of him on the floor, or of his distinctly repitilian countenance, gives me a new lease on my delusive vision of this league. But the sheer, rickety incompetence the two of them exhibited while executing one of the most perfunctory exchanges in all of sports. . .Bosh seemingly frightened by the awesome responsibility and Marquis's off-putting glower, 'Quis looking like he really believed he had something better to do. The next time I catch myself groaning at a pre-gamer, I will look back on this event and think "but yes, there is always lower."



3. Josh Howard's retainer. Silverbird and I spent a while yesterday trying to figure out how someone ends up flooding the country with preternaturally strong drugs; such is the riddle of Josh Howard's orthodontia, which at every turn confounds most common sense. Howard's not seeing lottery money, but he certainly has enough under the mattress to spring for state-of-the-art tooth-fixing treatment. That's why I was always struck by his braces, which seemed about as obtrusive as possible (couldn't he have at least copped those see-through joints?). Now apparently those gloves are off, but when he's on camera for an internationally-aired interview that's a shoulders-up shot he keeps the retainer in. Some hearfelt Mavs fan probably knows more on this, and maybe there's a reasonable scientific explanation. For now, though, I'm going to have to admit that I'm in no position to make informed judgments about one man's quest for the dental serenity.

So about that game. First off, I know that Breen has got to sell the next episode even harder in the wake of two straight decisive victories. But for real, can he really get away with saying "Shaquille O'Neal will be looking come back and make a statement?" Wasn't that the hook for tonight? Even if he can't possibly be worse at home, at some point you run out of chances to come back with a vengeance; when that dominant night does happen, it's got to be seen just as Shaq having a good game.



I suppose I'm wondering who to blame for the Heat's utter embarrassment of a road stand. The supporting cast's done nothing, but then again, Shaq has been all about useless and Wade's hardly gone off with ease. Superstars need some help, but for things to fall into place they've got to play up to their level. There are plenty of qualifiers floating around: Shaq's old, Wade's got the flu, without them holding it down Walker et al. start wishing they could fly, Dallas has three seven footers and a slew of athletic bodies that make Posey feel like just another long asset. At some point, though, these problems become structural, not situational, and you've got consider breaking out the "EXPOSED" rubber stamp.

Why everyone was talking a six-game series: A sweep is too brash. Five is close to a sweep. Seven implies no clear preference. Six, then, is the only realistic way to pick a winner without having to go too far.

Dallas in five.

13 Comments:

At 6/12/2006 3:19 AM, Blogger ~CW~ said...

You never want to declare a series over before the home-court has shifted (Lakers/Spurs in '04, the Pistons Finals resurgence in the Palace last year), but saying the Mavs will win in five might even be a stroke of generosity for the Heat. It's easy to blame the lack of jumpshooting for the hole Miami finds itself in, but I really think it's Avery Johnson who deserves all the credit.

Every time Shaq touched the ball, there were at least two seven-footers around him, with two other Mavericks flitting in and out of the key. There always seemed to be four of the General's men protecting the paint, completely eliminating the typical scoring for Shaq and Wade. On offense, everything is initiated either in the fast-break, Dirk prodding (but never forcing) or by the fact Payton and Williams cannot hope to contain JET and Harris out on the perimeter.

Why is Mavericks in five generous? Because even if the Heat get hot for a game on the outside and open up the interior, they still have to stop Dallas on the other end, and I don't think they're up to it. Here's hoping Riles can at least make this thing respectable.

(Also, did you notice the best Heat line-up included Zo, not Shaq, simply because the lack of double-teams on the inside kept the offense flowing more? Why not try Shaq and Zo at the same time? They'd probably get run off the floor, but at this rate, I don't really think there's much more for the Heat to lose.

Nash, Bell, Marion, Stoudemire, Diaw...)

 
At 6/12/2006 5:02 AM, Anonymous mugettee said...

I suspect the Heat, while being completely exposed by AJ for the south beach retirement home that they are, will win one if only because the dominant team in a series always takes a game off. That Cuban might want to win this one back home isn't entirely out of the realm of possiblity either.

 
At 6/12/2006 7:31 AM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

I'm wondering whether it might also be Riley doing a bad job of getting Shaq involved strategy wise. The way they're setting up on offense, Shaq usually stays on one side of the lane and they swing the ball over. This enables Dampier to cut off the baseline while a second defender can close off the lane for moves toward the middle and short passes.

Whenever the Lakers were really trying to get Shaq involved they rather had the ball stay on one side and have Shaq move across the lane (by him using his power or by sending a screener towards him) so that he could get position close to the basket. But with the Heat it's become so predictable that even when Shaq passes well out of the double the Mavs are able to rotate quickly enough most of the time.

Also, anybody else getting sick of Posey jumping in to take the contact when the offensive player is already in the air? I though the NBA wanted to discourage players from resorting to this tactic.

 
At 6/12/2006 8:56 AM, Blogger EMC said...

I'm not a huge Shaq fan, but he rarely plays well on the road (although last night was pathetic even for Road-Shaq). Plus, one of the officials last night was Bob Delaney, who is a notorious Shaq hater. If Home-Shaq doesn't have a stellar first half in Game 3, this series is over.

 
At 6/12/2006 10:30 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

somewhere in my own head i lost this crucial point: this is the first time we've ever seen wade not only look mortal, but been shown that it's possible to exploit his limitations and keep him at bay.

anyone wondering why i say lebron is better, look at what he did when the pistons made a point of disrupting his usual swang.

though i guess those pistons lost to this heat, which makes them lower than low, while at the pace of the playoff hype machine, these mavs should pass the '04 pistons on the "greatest defensive team ever" charts any second now.

wv: axlgs (axl got served)

 
At 6/12/2006 2:51 PM, Blogger there is no you or me without Suomi said...

...and remember, this is how old Shaq looks when he's just been surrounded by Dallas's version of "speed & depth kills". Next year's model Phoenix will make a Heat series loss in five games seem an accomplishment. Centers go bad like potato salad, its just a fact of life. Time for Shaq to devote more time to catching kiddie porn fiends on the internet.

ftzfrt- free tom ze, fuck robert traylor

 
At 6/12/2006 3:29 PM, Anonymous Ashy Larry said...

Funny how the same analysts falling all over themselves to celebrate the new/return-to-the-old fun NBA were still trotting out the old saw about depth not mattering as much in the playoffs as recently as a couple weeks ago. But less isolation = more ball movement = more action = greater need for fresh legs. Ask Shaq and Wade if depth doesn't matter when they're seeing new defenders every five minutes. Ask Riley if he doesn't die a little inside every time he peeps the stiffs on his own bench. Even the sui generis Suns couldn't defy this new reality they helped to create.

 
At 6/12/2006 3:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone has posted good comments here. OBVIOUSLY, the Heat have been exposed, and its no wonder I wish the Cavs or even the disappointing Pistons would have better represnted the Eastern Conference. The Mavs had a nailbiting series with Dunc & the Spurs, and the Suns, though they got bounced, made a decent showing. I expected the NBA Finals to at least surpass the excitement of both the the conference championship games. OVERHYPED?!?!?!? It looks like the only excitment to come may be when Stern has to hand over the O'Brien Trophy to Cuban....SO the only question I got to ask is, "why you got a pic of Rae & Ghost?" Are they waiting to pistol whip Dirk once he get his NBA Championship Ring????

Sweep em'!!! For goodness sake. Sweep em. Mav's in 4.

 
At 6/12/2006 4:25 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i probably should've put up nas instead. i meant that at this point, a successful cuban linx 2 wouldn't signal the return of them as a force in rap, just prove that in two decades they can make two classic albums together (unless you count iron man as a third).

if there's enough dissent over this i can change to it nas for the box set.

 
At 6/12/2006 6:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To EMC above, bringing Bob Delaney and his Shaq-hating ways into the discussion, I hardly think the refs can get any blame for Shaq's non-showing yesterday. After all, he attempted more free throws than field goals (7 to 5) and only picked up one foul for the game. The calls not going Shaq's way may have had big impacts on his earlier disappointments in this year's playoffs; but even someone who likes to point the finger as much as Shaq does surely will have to find someone else to point it at for his Game 2 performance.

But speaking of Bob Delaney, do we really need to have a halftime special done on him? The refs in the NBA are too well-known as it is without them being featured at halftime of a Finals game.

 
At 6/13/2006 2:58 PM, Anonymous Mr. Six said...

Funny, at first glance, I thought that was Ghost and Biz Markee ... and last I read over at wutangcorp.com, Ghost isn't planning to do much if any work on OB4CL2; GZA is going to take his part on the sequel ... which means that either we should all be in mourning for this stillborn aural ur-god of an album or eagerly awaiting our opportunity to behold mythology evolved to the next stage narrative ...

 
At 6/13/2006 3:14 PM, Anonymous Mr. Six said...

and I gotta agree with Shoals on Wade v. Bron. It's still too early to really know anything about these guys, and they both still need to put in a lot of work. But this is Wade's third playoff run, and I can't recall any series in which we learned anything about what he's capable in the face of seemingly overwhelming force; he's dominated, but never when it could have meant overcoming the impossible. In contrast, when the Pistons took LBJ's scoring away, he found other ways to get things done and still controlled the games. Even though his team lost, from the beginning of Game 2 until the final minutes of Game 7, we saw what he would do when it appeared he could do nothing at all.

 
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