Monday, June 16, 2014

The Heat Round Up: Same Beating Next Year

2-3 In The Finals
Here's the problem with winning: it's never enough. Win once, can you repeat? If not, it was a fluke. Win twice, well, the threepeat is the true definition of a great team. Win three, everyone hates you and thinks you're old and yada, yada, yada. And so it goes for history's least-loved great team, the Miami Heat, who have been to four straight Finals but have only won two, and just got beaten down by historic levels in this round by a Spurs team that (shh!) might have been one of the best teams in NBA history. (More on that in another post.)

As an aside, I take offense at just how much people delight in the Heat's loss -- and no, I'm not a Heat fan, and have never been. There are Cleveland hoop fans in my Twitter feed, and you would have thought that tonight's loss erased the Heat's two titles, and that the Spurs have moved to Ohio. You people are losers. LeBron was right to leave; he's got two rings now, and didn't spend his entire basketball life toiling for the Quicken Loans Comic Sans Idiot.

Also -- there is no "right" way to build a franchise. Guys taking less money to play with a winning organization is not evidence of wrestling heel-like cowardly behavior, unless they happen to be doing that for laundry that you do not root for. The idea that a championship team needs to be loved beyond their borders is insanity. Stop treating sports like pro wrestling, with designated heels and babyfaces; it makes everyone sound like they are 12 years old, and demeans a beautiful game. Moving on.


Back to the Heat. They still have advantages, of course. Anyone who really thinks that James is going to leave the closet thing to an automatic annual ticket to the Finals by leaving the East is smoking something that's only now legal in a few states, and they have a reasonable coaching situation, good home crowd (well, at least when they are winning), no state income tax and so on. There is no second-best team in the East that is going to improve themselves so dramatically as to stop Trip Number Five next June, assuming that they stay relatively healthy. But as this Spurs series show, they really aren't good enough, and probably wouldn't have gotten out of the second round, and maybe even the first, if they played in the West.

So what happens next? Well, everyone thinks they'll go after Carmelo Anthony under the concept that Stars Attract Stars, and as little of a fan as I am of Melo's me-first game. there's no denying that he'd help. If Miami isn't going to get to Spur-like ball movement and dead-eye three-point shooting, being able to get to the line and break up runs with a post game would help, and Anthony can do that. The Heat also just spent most of the regular season trying to manage Dwayne Wade's minutes so that he'd be better in the Finals, and that didn't work at all. Unlike previous years, they don't have a whole lot of hope that Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers are going to get a lot better, and despite the small moments that Michael Beasley showed them in Game Five, no one really thinks he's going to be anything more than a bench scoring vagabond. They also need a gritty 4 who can actually still play (unlike Udonis Haslem), a 3-point shooting 2 who can go for more than five minutes at a time (unlike Ray Allen), and a 5 who isn't an offensive liability who can block shots and rebound (unlike Greg Oden and Chris Anderson).

What they do works in the East, because the East does not have elite level point guards and long-term passing monster teams that make their defensive pressure meaningless... and, well, this isn't a style where you can grow old gracefully. James is the best player on the planet, but he's not getting better, and in another 1 to 3 years, that crown might go to Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, LaMarcus Aldrige, Stephen Curry or Kawhi Leonard. Or maybe even a guy in their own conference.

There are other ways to go than to chase Melo. Going after PG Kyle Lowery of Toronto, fresh off a series that clearly spiked his value, might help them get easier makes on offense. If Kevin Love is serious about chasing wins with his next team, he'd be fantastic for them, and probably make Chris Bosh better, since he wouldn't have to keep trying to be something he's not. Even small beer moves, like what Dallas did to bring in Monta Ellis and Sam Dalembert, or the Warriors with Andre Iguodala, would make this team so much more dangerous than, well, Haslem and Anderson and Beasley and Odom. There will be other names, and until the league changes, there will always be teams trying to tank and shed useful assets. Hell, Thaddeus Young would have helped loads in this series.

Basically, Miami just tried to win a threepeat with three above-average starters. That really shouldn't happen. And no one has ever accused Pat Riley of being insufficiently ruthless. There are at least a half dozen guys on the Heat bus tonight that won't be with this club in October. It's not like they have the excuse of not breaking up the band.

And the fact that they got to the Finals with relative ease, and did so while avoiding winter and income tax in a town with beautiful women?

Trust me, James isn't going anywhere.

The only question is who's coming to town to join him.

And whether they'll be good enough to close the immense gap from the Best of the West that was shown in these Finals. On that last point? I have some serious doubts. More on that later.

2 comments:

ThisArticleSucks said...

Really??.. You sure your not a Heat fan? If the Bulls get Carmelo that "automatic" ticket to the finals will be revoked. The East doesnt have elite point guards? They have the BEST PG in D.Rose. Seeing as hes been out for a fee years and you sound like a bandwagon type im sure you just count hom out.

DMtShooter said...

The Bulls aren't getting Anthony; he doesn't fit their defense-first modus operandi, and won't be attracted to come to town just because they've got a PG that can't stay on the floor. Also, in the handful of games the Bulls got from Rose this year, he pretty much stunk up the joint. I'm not saying they should be drafting a PG and cutting bait on him just yet, but the thought has probably crossed their minds.

If you want to concoct an instant super team that could knock off the Heat next year, try Anthony with the Wizards, Pacers or Nets. Even if those do happen, I doubt the chemistry works from jump. As for me, I'll stick with the idea that any team Anthony is on will be out of the playoffs after the first round. In eight out of his ten trips to the playoffs, that's when his team has ended.

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