I usually hate the sun, in fact, it places undue pressure on me to love life and makes me that much more determined to hide in the shadows. But fuck it, it's been gorgeous here for three days, there's only so much basketball on, and no one's checking their email. So I'm suddenly filled with spring fever—more like compulsion—and have to get to the water and get my tan on.
Before I run out the door, though, I did want to say a few things about last night's game. Sorry for the lack of frilly language, these are more notes that grew out of post-game conversation:
-I recognize that this Cavs loss somewhat mutes my latest spasms of LeBron-mania.
-That said, it is kind of sad to watch Bron go straight at Howard like the DPOY doesn't have shit on him. You wonder if an angrier Dwight might help here.
-At some point, I began to wonder if the Magic could only win, or at least impress me with a win, if they made a comeback that was . . . ummm, magical?
-Based on conversations with my friend Nate, Kevin Pelton, and my own two eyes, it's become obvious to me: Howard is a monster on offense provided he's in motion. Give him the damn ball, just make sure he's cutting, leaping, or in a position to make one step and then dunk. That's why, even though he could stand to diversity his offense, it is on SVG and other players to see this gives them a tremendous weapon right now. See also Game 1 of this series.
-Someone needs to tell Howard that him stationary in the post is a total dead-end. Unless he's got a total mismatch. When Amare was a raw killing machine in 2004-05, the trick to his success was that he avoided this situation like the plague. Now, Howard will never be able to expand his range, or ability to put the ball on the floor, like Stoudemire has done—the main way he's overcome the obvious limitation of not playing in the post. So who knows what the long-term prognosis for Howard is. But Amare was never as imposing as Howard. There's no reason he can't be used creatively so that, in short, the post is always the terms set by Howard's lateral or upward motion.
-Not surprisingly, Kevin just realized he'd said something like this several years ago:
For years now, Howard has drawn comparisons to Phoenix's Amaré Stoudemire because of how both players have a prodigious combination of size, strength, and athleticism. The comparisons break down at some point, because Howard is a far better rebounder and defender than Stoudemire, but the Magic clearly learned from how the Suns accelerated Stoudemire's development by pairing him with Steve Nash and surrounding him with double-team neutralizing outside shooters.
And also. . .
We're trained to recognize that those kind of outside shooters help beat double-teaming of a post player, a style so popular in the NBA in the 1990s that was perfected by the Houston Rockets around Hakeem Olajuwon. However, the Suns of recent vintage have demonstrated that deep threats can be just as valuable when it comes to running pick-and-rolls. Even though Magic point guards Carlos Arroyo and Jameer Nelson are not on Nash's level, the Orlando pick-and-roll is still difficult to defend because teams can't leave the outside shooters to provide help and because Howard is so good at going up and getting the ball on lobs to the rim.
-KP adds: "The point now is they realized this a long time ago, and then seemed to forget it in these playoffs, either because Nelson/sorta Turkoglu were hurt or because of ORTHODOXY."
-Tangentially related, Rafer Alston is so weird. He's at his best as a straightforward guard. Nothing outside-of-the-box or too improvisational.
-So yeah, despite Joey's earlier critique of Howard, the Magic could be making a lot more of the current situation. And maybe Dwight could stop making me feel so damn bad for him, as LeBron plays like him with perimeter skills.
-It's true, I wrote something claiming that a big game from J.R. was more important to the Nuggets than Billups stepping it up. That probably would've made more sense around these parts. But I would still like to forget it happened.
-GO WONDER PETS!!!!!!!