Friday, June 10, 2011

Is This It for the Heat?

Who remembers that Celtics season opener where chants of "Overrated!" surrounded the stadium as we lost? Or that Philly game where we won our very 1st game with this unit? How about the home opener against Orlando where we won in convincing fashion? That Nets road game which ended up as our first blow-out win? That heartbreaking loss at N'Awlins? That bounce back highlight filled-win against the Nets? That stunning loss against the Jazz where Milsap went apeshit? That 2nd loss to the Celtics at home where people started to panic? That blow-out win against the Suns highlighted by Joel's airball dunk? That heartbreaking loss at the buzzer in the hands of Rudy Gay at Memphis? That terrible blow-out loss vs. Indiana at the AAA? The bumpgate at Dallas? The ass whooping King James delivered as he returned to Cleveland? Our first visit at MSG? That spectacular miracle win in Washington?

Who could also forget that Lakers Christmas ass whooping? That Bucks OT win where Chris Douglas-Roberts went nuts? That "F**k you" win at Portland? That Clippers loss which started a 4-game losing streak? That Raptors game where Mike Miller went into god mode? The Thunder game where we saw Eddie House do the big balls dance? LeBron's 50+ point game at Orlando? Our 3rd consecutive loss vs. the Celtics? That Pacers game where Wade and Bron connected on that 92 ft alley-oop? That Bulls game where Wade almost single-handedly won it for us? That Knicks game which was the beginning of doubts on our team? That Orlando choke game? That brutal blow-out loss at San Antonio? Heartbreaking loss at home vs. Chicago? The statement win against the Lakers? That historic Rockets game where the big 3 all had 30-10's? That terrible loss at Cleveland? That Raptors game where Eddie House and Jamaal Magloire secured us homecourt against Dallas right now?

How bout that gritty first round against the Sixers? That clutch-filled Boston series? That spectacular ECF ass whooping showing Chicago who's boss? The collapse against Dallas in Game 2? The LeBron 8 pt game in Game 4? And now this game tonight?

All of those gone and now comes this moment. Is this Miami Heat team truly ready for their biggest challenge amongst all? Can they put together one last run to prove all the haters wrong? Can they win 2 straight pressure packed games to win it all and avoid crumbling against pressure? Can they?!?

All of this coming to a waste just because of an epic collapse back in Game 2? All of this coming to a waste just because of another choke job and a disappointing game by LeBron? All of this coming to a waste just because of  terrible defense in Game 5? Blame the refs all you want, but I shit you not. If anything, the Miami Heat can only blame themselves for this hole they're standing at right now. It's up to them to dig theirselves out of it and come out on top when it's all said and done.

I've stayed optimistic all season long. All playoffs long. All Finals long, yet this just feels different man. You could tell this is not the Miami Heat. They can do better. We know that and they certainly know it too. They have 2 final chances -- with no room for mistakes. If you want to get crowned as champion, you need to play like it. All is not done for Miami. Win both home games and they win the title, if they can't, then they don't deserve to be NBA champions. Simple as that. The thought of Dallas holding the trophy at the Heat's house absolutely sickens my stomach. Anything but that. ANYTHING, I tell you.

I still want to believe but the Heat's latest play really discourages me to do so. There's been too many let downs so far but that doesn't stop me from having faith. It ain't over til it's over. Here's hoping we'll still witness a parade down in Biscayne BLVD when it's all said and done. Let's go Heat!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Settling The Wade vs. LeBron Debate

Let me start by saying im not a Wade nor Bron fanboy but I've seen this debate a lot in many places and I wanna share my thoughts about it......some people will agree and im sure others will also disagree with me.

As much as I really hate naming accomplishments behind a single individual completely ignoring the rest of the team, here's how I see it:

LeBron's slightly better and more talented than D-Wade, but D-Wade in my opinion has the better killer instinct and leadership DNA. LeBron can still kill you with heartbreaking daggers of his own (just like the BOS/CHI series) but I just really prefer D-Wade's killer mentality more. This is nothing against LeBron since either way, they're both great in their own right. Oh, and they play for the same team, too, mind you what. Personally, I root for the Miami Heat. I don't root for LeBron or Wade. I support the whole team and judge them fairly as much as I can.

Assuming it comes to that point, I dont really care who wins Finals MVP  if/when the Heat win. I wouldn't give a flying f--- if they give the award to Juwan Howard or say, Dexter Pittman. I just want the team to win and take home the trophy, but as much as I like both Bron and Wade equally, there's no doubt that if/when we do win it all by the way things are looking so far, Wade seems to be the leading candidate for Finals MVP unless LeBron errupts in the next few games and Wade performs average/below average, which is certainly possible. I have a feeling that LeBron would explode pretty much soon since it's been really average games so far by his standard, I just hope it doesn't ruin our flow and he plays it smart within the system. But like I said, I dont even wanna go to that first since this series is still not over and I still view Dallas as a serious threat.

To dig things deeper, Wade wont be killing Dallas right now if it wasn't for Bron killing the past few rounds as well, you could throw in Mr. Boshtrich in there too since he's made some terrific timely clutch plays himself. The media will do everything to make it look like Shaq/Kobe 2.0 and form an imaginary feud between the two of them but truth be told, everyone deserves credit and all 3 wouldn't even have teamed up in the first place if they only prioritize theirselves before the team as a whole. But im sure the haters would still fail to see the truth and instead, just go on with the typical "Lolz LePippen sucks, he's a Robin hehe. " type of posts. Completely foolish, retarded and stupid. Like what I previously said, im also sure the media will try their best dividing the team attempting to make a rift. In fact, that already has begun -- you could see an example on what im talking about in A-Woj's latest article in Yahoo! Sports pinpointing who's the real alpha dog. All I can do is just shake my head.

It definitely seems that Wade does have the upper edge over LeBron at the moment - but did we really easily forget how LeBron was the Heat's best player in the regular season and in the post-season before the Finals came? Are 3 Finals games enough to convince you to turn around 360 degrees and say Wade is the sole reason why Miami's winning and inching closer to a title or why LeBron's a Pippen? No disrespect to Dwyane - and I understand why some people see it that way since he's been Miami's hero since 2003 and is no doubt one of South Florida's best sportsman of all time, but this is just unfair to LeBron to some sort of extent. Again, I have no agenda here. I love Dwyane Wade just as I love LeBron James and Chris Bosh, but I feel LeBron is completely being underrated here and has been the target of foolish and undeserved cheap shots. Did you see that reporter getting owned by LeBron last night for trolling him? I guess LBJ really does have an amazing defensive game, on and off the court. He could definitely still play better since he's been really average so far, and while I feel it's more of him struggling than what Dallas is doing, I do give some credit to Shawn Marion and the Mavs. We have yet to see that "WOW" game from LeBron, but I got a feeling that's coming pretty soon. He still has 4 games to catch up and elevate his game higher to another notch. We all know LeBron doesn't plan to stay quiet for the whole series and will dominate soon, but again, I just hope he plays it wisely and smartly. Hopefully, he does it in the proper structure of the Heat's system and not force things way too much just like Game 2.

And to add one last thing to the "If we do win, the Finals MVP goes to........." debate, I feel this is why things are going the way we're seeing so far: Dwyane Wade has a better match-up than LeBron has. You know Dwyane will go absolutely apeshit anytime the likes of Jason Kidd, (with all due respect, is too old) Jason Terry, and DeShawn Stevenson goes up against him. LeBron on the other hand, has a tougher match-up even though he's the better player. Miami's just playing it correctly by riding with the flow. Since Dwyane has the better and easier match-up, why not exploit and abuse it as much as possible? Hats off to Dwyane for doing so, so far. Same for LeBron and Chris for playing it smart by understanding this is not about Dwyane, but rather for the betterment of the team as a whole by stepping back and putting in solid contributions since this isn't the Bulls series anymore where Wade struggled mightily bad while LeBron and Chris had their way against Chicago's defenders. Wade clearly has the best chance of dominating among all three so you go with it the most, no question. Also, one thing. I've noticed that LeBron's average/off-night games are way better than Dwyane's average/off-night games. Miami's blueprint of winning game 3 featured a lot of LeBron on other sides of the floor - be it defending, playmaking, and so on.

To sum it up - if you're a true team fan or a logical outsider, you wouldn't care who's gonna end up better between LeBron and Wade. Like me, you should only care about the Miami Heat winning the championship as a whole. That's been our goal since July and we're not gonna sit here and be dissatisfied just because of fighting who's better. LeBron and Dwyane respect each other way too much, I can tell you that. They're like true brothers, and I guarantee you they won't care who's better than who or who gets what, the only thing they care about is winning and they'll focus in doing so in the upcoming 8 days. That's all what matters to them and that's all what should matter to us too, well of course -- unless you're a LeBron/Wade fanboy or a Heat hater, then all of this really doesn't matter to you. Some Heat fans still fail to see and understand this, but soon enough all of you will realize how blessed all of us Heat fans are right now seeing both Dwyane Wade and LeBron James play in the same freaking team willing our team to wins and championships. Having a third guy like Chris Bosh doesn't hurt too, you know.  This is just the beginning of something special. Both Wade and LeBron are the undisputed the leaders of the team. This "Who's team is it?" argument really needs to die. And if you want an answer from me regarding that question, it's Micky Arison's team. After all, he owns the Heat franchise, right?

Friday, June 3, 2011

State of Emergency to Heat Fans

Alright yall. It's yo boy beastleyBLVD here, and I just wanna make this quick.

People thinking this series is already over are crazy. I know, last night was a horrible chokejob but trust me on this one -- this Heat team has been against adversity all season long. I got no doubt we'll bounce back from all of this.

I'll admit that i'm one of those who overreacted after the game but it was more of me needing to cool off. Im sure everyone last night was pissed off.

Now speaking of us fans pissed off, could you only imagine how LeBron and D-Wade's feeling right now? They'll get their revenge pretty soon. I dont view Chris Bosh's mentality as tough as Wade's and LeBron's, but I do think the big guy is due for a big game. Either way, I have a feeling they'll absolutely go apeshit in Game 3 and for the rest of the series. Keep in mind, Miami hasn't lost consecutively thus far in the playoffs. You could argue that this stat means nothing since we were also undefeated before last night's collapse at home - but to me, this shows more of our character that we're more than capable of bouncing back mightily whether we're on the road or at home.

The Heat outplayed the Mavericks for 89 consecutive minutes before a 7-minute meltdown. Some of you would actually think those 89 minutes doesn't mean jack since the series is tied 1-1 anyways, but that sample size actually means something. We know Miami has already shown they are capable of outplaying the Mavs. There's NO saying they can't again in the upcoming days. So to rule them out this early is foolish. The Heat simply need to focus, move on, and be more mentally tough. More on that in the upcoming paragraphs.

You could say im only making an excuse but Game 2 might end up being a blessing in disguise and the final wake-up call we need moving on forward. I know it sucks thinking about what happened in that game right now but hey, look at the big picture. IF we still end up winning it all, looking back into this game will make victory even better and sweeter. We saw a glimpse of the old unorganized Heat last night and I can guarantee you it's the last time we'll see that lazy and careless version of the team. I give 100% credit to Dallas and tip my hat to them. They came in to our house and stole one. Now we have our chance to do the same to them.

And call me crazy - but what if Miami steals all 3 games in Dallas and win it all in 5? Okay, maybe i'm reaching way too far but you never know. Imma tell you this: if there's one team that can do it, it's the Heat. As much as they can disappoint and surprise us with negative showings, they can leave us drooling in amazement of accomplishing things beyond our basic imagination. Be honest, if I told you after getting blown out by Chicago back in Game 1 that the Bulls will never sniff a win again and the Heat will win 4 straight, you'd call me crazy. But the Heat did accomplish such thing. Granted, Chicago's different to Dallas - but to be honest, I think Miami's losses so far had to do more of them beating themselves than the opponent outplaying us. I feel no one else can prevent the Heat winning a title other than themselves and their egos. That's how good this team is. Unfortunately, egos cost the Heat game 2. LeBron tried too hard being a hero. The Heat needs to limit all the "hero balls" and avoid that at all costs. Now it's a matter of focusing, grinding, and staying humble and hungry. We need to stay mentally focused whether we're up or down. You can't win easily. You don't win championships without experiencing obstacles. Like what coach Spoey keeps saying, it's always gonna be a grind every game.

As NBA History indicates, whenever teams split the first two games in the current Finals format, the winner of game 3 goes on to win the championship 100% of the time. But seeing this year's playoffs, I don't think anything's safe. Anything crazy can happen anytime.

Personally, I would be happy if we can get one or two out of three from the Dallas trip. Winning only one will mean the series shifts back to Miami with the Mavs holding a 3-2 lead, so the Heat need to sweep the remaining two games at South Beach in order to win the Larry O'Brien Trophy. Meanwhile, stealing two on the road will give Miami a 3-2 lead and two chances of finishing them off in the triple A. Winning all three, as previously stated, will give Miami the championship.

I just find it funny how people hate on the Heat like they're a group of ex-convicts or something. Even funnier, most of these people are fans of teams who were already eliminated and are only watching the Finals in their couches at home. To see Miami win it all will be great to shut these haters up.

This is Miami's final test. If you look at it, people are acting like Dallas is up 3-0 but we're actually tied 1-1. I'll be captain obvious here for a minute: There's only 5 more games and the first team to 3 wins will win the championship. Both Miami and Dallas can only afford to lose 2 games maximum in the next five. So the 7-game series shrinks to a 5-game series. Only difference is, Dallas has homecourt advantage this time. But im sure we all know by now how great of a road team Miami is. Let's not count the Heat out yet.

Michael Jordan won his first title about 20 years ago. The Bulls had homecourt advantage but split the first two games with the Lakers. Heading to Los Angeles in a 2-3-2 format, Chicago won all 3 road games and won the championship 4-1. Did they panic after the first two games? No.

Kobe Bryant and the Lakers also had Finals homecourt advantage last year against the Celtics. Boston came in and stole a game in LA, resulting to a 1-1 tie as the series went east to Boston. The Lakers responded by taking Game 3, but the Celtics managed to win Games 4 and 5, thus holding a 3-2 lead going back to LA. Down 3-2, the Lakers eventually overcame adversity and won the final two games on their way to the championship. Did they panic? No.

When it's all said and done, Dwyane Wade has taught me how to never ever give up on a Heat team as long as he's here at full strength. 2006 was definitely much more different than the current time right now, and you'll expect Dirk will actually be hungrier seeking for revenge, but to me - Wade will always have one edge few NBA players possess; and it's having a steel heart of a champion. He'll never let his team go out like this. Trust me.

Miami needs to erase everything in regards to game 2 with the exception of learning how the players need to keep pushing until the final buzzer sounds avoiding complacency and look on to the future battles ahead. They can't afford to look back at the side view mirror and say "Damn, wish we won Game 2 since it's easier" and express regret. Instead, they need to look at the windshield and say "Fuck Game 2. We've learned our mistakes. We're still winnin' this series!" and act like true warriors who don't dwell on the past and remain confident. No pain, no gain. Hopefully, that collapse was the final learning experience the Heat needs before reaching ultimate success. We can't afford to have any more of that. This is the Finals where you play in a grown man's league. There's little room for errors and mistakes. Dallas is way too dangerous for the Heat (or any team for that matter) to sleep on. Again, respect to the Mavs. Hopefully all of these will only make Miami stronger in the long run and help them reach the promised land.

The only negative thing is, Dallas now has all the confidence in the world after that brutal Heat loss and know that if they win all of their home games, they win the championship. They stole momentum and it will definitely help boost their mindsets.

There are plenty of great comebacks in the history of the NBA, but I really believe that the verdict on Game 2 is yet to be determined. If Dallas ends up winning, it'll be acknowledged as one, if not, the best momentum-shifting game in NBA Finals history since they did it against a team featuring LeBron, Wade, and Bosh. Meanwhile, if Miami ends up winning, all of this will be forgotten quickly and Heatles nation will rejoice in joy. It would only be considered as a fluke game and will be quickly erased from all of our minds. Here's hoping the second scenario ends up happening.

To sum up everything I wrote, I still have faith and I still believe when it's all said and done, we'll witness a parade down in Biscayne BLVD, and there's no reason you can't think the same way as I am right now. The Heat started the season interacting with soldiers who display hard work and dedication in fighting for victory in a military base, and I have absolutely no doubt that the Heat, just like a soldier who displays hard work and dedication in fighting for victory in a military base, will end their season and come out on top. Never stop believing Heat fam. Let's go Heat!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Finals: Mavericks vs. Heat Preview

After all these years we've been waiting for, the time has arrived - yet again.

Will history repeat itself? Who among LeBron or Dirk will have their first ring? Is this Jason Kidd's final crack at a championship? Is this just the beginning of a Heat dynasty?

These are just some questions you and I would like to know, and the answers to all of our questions will be revealed two weeks from now.

Dallas has another shot for revenge. We all know what happened 5 years ago. This is the perfect time for Dirk to avenge his heartbreaking defeat, and it just happens to be Miami coming out as the East's strongest team yet again, just like 2006.

Meanwhile, Miami will get another chance to rub it in the Mavs' faces. Many people view the Heat's lone '06 title with an asterisk, stating various conspiracy theories surrounding it. Certainly, this is a golden chance to shut their haters up once again.

Dallas held off Portland 4-2 back in the opening round, which is surprisingly their most competitive series up to date. They shocked the world and swept the two-time defending champs in the semis, also exposing Oklahoma City's inexperience by ousting them in 5 games on their way to the NBA Finals.

Miami's quest to the NBA Finals wasn't easy either. They took the 76ers out in 5. Philadelphia did give Miami a scare for quite a bit. The Heat surprisingly only needed 5 games to beat the defending east champs in the semis, outperforming Boston down the stretch with solid display of execution. Finally, just like the first two rounds, they eliminated the NBA's best Bulls in 5 games in the ECF.

We're talking about two of the NBA's best road teams right here. Both teams currently hold 12-3 playoff records. This is an exciting match-up just as you could imagine.

Miami needs to have a collective effort of boxing out and securing rebounds. Back in the season, Tyson Chandler once had 17 rebounds against the Heat. That should never happen again.

Obviously, Spoelstra and co. will have their hands full against Dirk. With the way he's been beasting lately, you gotta wonder if there's really a way to contain him. Udonis Haslem once earned the moniker "Dirk stopper" 5 years ago. Things have changed drastically since then, so we'll see how exactly that goes. Spoelstra could also use Bosh, Anthony, and at times - LeBron, and throw them at Dirk. You know he'll be motivated to bounce back from his 2006 loss as his legacy is once again on the line here. You also know about 90% of America has the German's back for this series. Kinda ironic huh? There's really no way to stop Dirk. You just have to limit him and accept the fact that he will get his.

Speaking of legacies, can LeBron finally win his first ring? It's a no brainer that his legacy will take another hit if he fails to win it this season. On the other hand, this could just well be the start of a historic run for King James. He has been surprisingly a great closer as of late for Miami, and he needs to keep doing damage. He's only four wins away from the Larry O'Brien trophy, and I'm sure he realizes that this is huge. I have faith that he'll put the icing on the cake for his haters in this series and will shut them up.

The Heat's role players need to show up bigtime. It's no secret that the Mavs boast more depth and has a better rounded team. Dallas used some zone defense back in the season that caused Miami to struggle in stretches. This is where the likes of Mike Bibby, Mike Miller, James Jones, and Mario Chalmers need to step up and provide a lift to the big three. You really don't necessarily need to beat the zone with exclusive 3's, you can bust it. Having Chris Bosh really helps as he's also great in the high post area.

One aspect I'm very afraid is Dallas' 3-point shooting. They can catch fire anytime and kill you completely. (See the Lakers series.) They're very streaky and will obviously be tough to guard once they get into their rhythm. Miami needs to have the proper defensive discipline in defending the three-point line at all costs.

It's gonna be a one heck of battle between great offense vs. great defense and star power vs. depth. We all know that famous "Defense wins championships." saying. Can Miami live up to those words and prove it?

You see, one thing with the Heat is not only do they have great defense, but anytime you have LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh in your team, you know you have some heck of an offense too. As for the Mavs, I feel that defensively, they're average and ain't that bad. So to summarize it right here, we're seeing good offense with great defense vs. great offense with average defense.

The Heat can not afford to have slow starts. I know they've had it and eventually survived despite all of them during the first three rounds, but I feel Dallas is one different monster even though they have the label of being chokers. I would prefer if Miami can keep up the intensity for all 48 minutes. The Mavs are way too gifted offensively for that to happen.

Dwyane Wade needs to find his groove ASAP and show Dallas once again who's boss. Generally, he really wasn't that much into it in the Bulls series but to his credit - he showed up down the stretch in close games. This time, he needs to torch whoever Rick Carlisle sends to guard him and give the Mavs another nightmare to add to 2006. The Pre-Finals rest should definitely help his cause. Bottomline: Miami can't win this series if Wade struggles mightily bad.

As good as JJ Barea, Peja Stojakovic and Jason Terry can be offensively for the Mavericks, the Heat should find plenty of ways to expose them and torch them. We all know those three guys aren't exactly that much into defense. Miami needs to make them pay and go at them any chance they can get. It's been always a grind-it-out mentality for Miami. Games like these favors their preference more, so that could also come in handy as well.

I wouldn't look in too much to the season series. Sure, the Mavs did win it 2-0, but we all know that same thing happened in 2006. Boston also went 3-1 against Miami. Chicago went 3-0. Look how all of that turned out. It's really interesting how the "Dallas hasn't faced an elite defense like Miami just like Miami not facing an elite offense like Dallas" debate works. It's been a long time since these two teams faced off, so expect some unfamiliarity at times.

Can Miami's homecourt advantage pay off? And speaking of homecourt, want to know the two main guys behind Miami's homecourt over Dallas right now? Eddie House and Jamaal Magloire. In the NBA's final regular season gameday, the Heat were playing without their main guys. Eddie House went on a scoring spree and Jamaal Magloire dominated in the rebounding department as Miami beat Toronto, eventually securing homecourt over Dallas. Heat fans own a bad reputation around the league, but to my surprise, they've actually impressed me so far throughout the post-season.

Like we said earlier, we're talking about the NBA's best road teams right here, so the Heat needs to protect their house. Even if Miami fails to snatch one on the road in Dallas, they could clinch the championship by winning all 4 home games in this series. Easier said than done. But since they're undefeated in South Beach so far, you never know. My ideal way would be the Heat winning the first two games at home, snatching one of three in Dallas, finishing it off in Miami. Remember, it's a 2-3-2 format for the Finals. It's really arguable whether this actually helps the road or home team. In my view, this would benefit the Heat more.

Also, you could bet that AmericanAirlines is happy as hell right now. Dallas plays in American Airlines Center, while Miami plays in American Airlines Arena.

To sum all things up, I picked Boston in 6, and Chicago in 6 back in previous rounds. Add that to the fact that Dallas is one helluva team, so I'm picking Dallas in 6. Again, my true Heat fam know what me picking Mavs in 6 really means. Ha. It would really be a treat if the Heat can prove me wrong and make me eat these
words though.

All games will be exclusively aired by ABC.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Round 3: Bulls vs. Heat Preview

Hey, look. It's another Bulls-Heat face-off again. This should be fun and physical.

Remember when MJ used to own Miami in the 90's? Remember when the battle for Derrick Rose came down to Chicago and Miami in the 2008 draft lottery? Remember those hard fought physical 1st round playoff match-ups in 05-06 and 06-07? Remember Dwyane Wade's classic steal and game winner against the Bulls 2 years ago? Remember when the Bulls and the Heat battled in the 2010 free agency, only to find out Miami would eventually snatch all of the Bulls' top 3 targets in LeBron, Dwyane, and Chris? Remember when Chicago sneaked out 3 impressive wins against Miami and beat them out for the top spot in the East and the whole league during this past season?

Well, this ECF match-up will pretty much make it to that list soon.

Miami, judging by its current play, is a much better team than the one who showed up back in the regular season. It seems that they're peaking at the right time. The Heat might've lost to the Bulls in three straight occasions back in the season, but that doesn't really mean much. All three contests came down to the wire. The results weren't set in stone until the final possessions, and yes -- it happened in all of those three games. That's how close the season series went. Remember, back in the Heat's semis date against the Celtics, Boston won the season match-up 3-1. The Heat eventually won the playoff match-up, 4-1.

LeBron didn't play in Miami's first visit to Chicago. Chris Bosh also got injured in the 4th quarter of that game and didn't play down the stretch in the closing moments. Despite all that, Dwyane Wade almost single-handedly willed the Heat to a win with a barrage of spectacular 3-pointers, only to fall short in the end due to a dagger from Kyle Korver. The Bulls were too much for D-Wade to handle. To be fair, Joakim Noah also didn't play. So both teams weren't geared up that well.

The Heat's 2nd date with the Bulls also happened in Chicago. LeBron, by that time, was good to play. The Heat had the lead majority of the game before a late Chicago rally. Just when we thought the Bulls will steal the game, Miami made one final surge, only to come up short eventually -- as Luol Deng made the game winning 3. Chris Bosh shot 1-18 (yes, that's not a typo) -- ONE OUT OF FREAKING EIGHTEEN. Odds of that happening again? Uh, not that high.

The last meeting between the two ball-clubs was another epic down-to-the-wire type of game. Miami, during that stretch, were struggling mightily and were scrutinized badly by the media and basketball fans for struggling to close games out. Their swag was shattered. Unfortunately, that trend continued in this game for LeBron and company, and the Bulls escaped South Beach with a crucial win that solidified their positioning atop the conference.

To sum up the season series, it's arguable that Chicago got luckier than the Heat. Generally, as a basketball fan, I hate making excuses. Excuses are only suited for Laker fans. So I tip my hat to the Bulls for going 3-0 on us. They went undefeated for a reason. Now, it's the perfect time for the boys down in South Beach to get the last laugh. It's payback time for the Heat. Hopefully, Miami can seek revenge and outlast Chicago just like what they did against Boston.

To repeat, the Heat have been playing arguably the best basketball than the other remaining teams left in the chase for the hardware. They're peaking at the right time. There's no doubt that they are playing way better than the Bulls so far in the playoffs. The Heat had a difficult time with Philly even though they won it 4-1. Same could be said for the Boston series. It was closer than what the final numbers indicated. Despite all that, it's impressive that the Heat have shown flashes of their true championship potential. Now's a good time to even show more of that potential and beat the Bulls.

The Heat are more experienced than the Bulls. Dwyane's been there. LeBron's been there. Even Erik Spoelstra, as an assistant, has been there. That's definitely an edge in Miami's favor.


Will coaching be a problem for the Heat? After all, coach Spo will be facing the reigning coach of the year for this round. Coach Thibs has been known as the Celtics' ex-blueprint defense master. I definitely think coaching is an edge for the Bulls. Spoelstra needs to make the necessary adjustments and stop being hard headed with his robotic sub patterns and rotations.

Does Miami prefer to lock down Derrick Rose completely and just let his other teammates score? Or will they try to do otherwise and limit his teammates but let him do all the work? That would be one thing that we should all definitely look forward to. Your move, coach Spo!

Miami can put D-Wade on D-Rose and let Bibby guard Bogans. That may tire Wade a bit, but that's one of Miami's best options if they want to win. Another option would be putting Chalmers on Rose and just putting Wade on the "MVP" during crunchtime.

The Bulls' bench beats the Heat's by a ton, no question. It can be really dangerous when guys such as Kyle Korver, Taj Gibson, CJ Watson can explode anytime. They also have a nice backup big man in Omer Asik. Miami has Joel Anthony to counter. Not too shabby.

Can Ronnie Brewer contain Dwyane Wade? Can Luol Deng limit LeBron James? Can Joakim Noah bother Chris Bosh? After all, Chicago has a reputation of being one of the best defensive teams in the league today. They have many weapons that can be used to stop the opposing squad. To Miami's credit, they're just right behind Chicago. This is a battle of two great defensive teams. Whenever the Heat is clicking on both sides, especially defensively turning it up to a high notch, you need to go home. That's what's scary about this team. They can lock you down entirely anytime on defense, and im sure Chicago's hoping they could avoid seeing that happen as much as possible. On the other hand, if the Bulls play lockdown D in or out and play physical, that might just be enough to outlast Miami's big three headed monster.

This would definitely be Miami's most difficult challenge so far in their championship quest. One can say that the Philly team was too young and the Boston squad was too old and banged up. Chicago, though, hasn't exactly been that scary so far in the post-season until Game 6 came against the Hawks. If that version of the Bulls team shows up, we have a series and there's a good chance Chicago will dominate. Otherwise, Miami's talent might just be too much for the Bulls as they can be exposed lacking enough legit support to help Derrick Rose down the line in a much higher level of competition. I actually think this Bulls team has some similarities to LeBron's previous Cavs teams back then. Great in the regular season, but not enough firepower in the post-season. Let's see if they can show me otherwise.

To me, I feel that the Bulls still have another higher gear in them. While the Heat have shown us spectacular playoff basketball, I also feel that we haven't seen their best yet, themselves. Miami needs to maintain this type of play and build on from there and shift it to an even higher level if they want a trip to the NBA Finals. We havent' seen the best of Chris Bosh, yet. Now's the perfect time for him to explode and prove all the doubters wrong against the not-so-good-defensively Carlos Boozer. Bosh needs to grab the opportunity and take advantage of it now that Kevin Garnett's out of his sight. No more 1-18, please. The Bulls were very disappointing in the Pacers and Hawks series. Many people expected better. Was that only a fluke? Or are they really being exposed in the playoffs, showing their true colors?

Miami also has more starpower than Chicago even if the Heat has a crappier bench, so that's another edge for the Heat. Sometimes, the talent and presence of star players are too much to overcome. Most media members are going with the safe pick by siding with the Heat for this round. I can't fault them as Derrick Rose, at times, even in this year's playoffs, has been a one-man show for Chicago, failing to get playoff-type production from his teammates. That's not enough if you're serious of going deeper into the brackets if you ask me. Like I said earlier, expect the Bulls bench to murder the Heat's. They should take advantage of it. I find it really hard to understand why Chicago lacks support for Rose when they got a really nice bench. Maybe they're really not good enough for the big stage just yet.

As a Heat fan, i'm very concerned with Taj Gibson, Kyle Korver, and Luol Deng. Maybe even Keith Bogans too. Bogans and Deng will get their fair share of open looks and they can make you pay. Gibson and Korver can get on fire anytime and they can kill you with an array of jumpshots. That's why Miami's role players need to step up themselves and provide a lift. No let downs!

The Bulls' bigs are way better. Their defense and rebounding are magnificent. Expect Miami to get crushed on the boards. The Heat need to avoid that and put up a respectable fight, at least. Miami also needs to limit Chicago in second chance points. This will be a very physical series. Miami needs to secure the paint against Rose just as Chicago against LeBron and D-Wade.

Miami, bottomline, can't just rely on LeBron and Wade alone. They need a great outing from Chris Bosh and the others for this series. Personally, one major deciding factor would be the Bosh vs. Boozer debate. Whoever plays better between the two of them will decide which team wins - in my opinion.

The Heat need an offensive spark from James Jones, Mario Chalmers, Eddie House and heck, even Mike Miller. They would be glad if they can get anything from them. Joel Anthony is also a huge factor for the Heat. His shotblocking presence would be welcomed in stopping Derrick Rose driving to the rim. I'm also expecting Erick Dampier back in this series, but you never know as long as Spoelstra is your coach. And Dampier hasnt' been exactly that good in the previous Bulls games. His conditioning is a question mark too.

The way I see it, the Bulls are hungrier between the two teams. I just think they have give and show more effort than Miami. They're the best NBA team in the league for a season. And this is no knock on the Heatles

Miami has a bad habit of coasting and chilling. Against the Sixers, it might've work since they can just out-talent them. Against the Celtics, it also might've work since they're younger. Against the Bulls, that's a no-no. Chicago can come back from any deficit any time as they have way too many weapons and a deadly weapon in D-Rose. Having shooters such as Kyle Korver and Luol Deng combined with the MVP play of Rose helps the case, That's why they're a scary team. Chicago grinds for full 48 minutes. Not sure I could say the same about the Heat, even though I love them.

Miami also starts slow. It's typical for Heat opponents to own early 11-2 leads or so. They need to avoid that and look to dominate from tip-off til the final buzzer. I love how Miami responded to opposing runs so far. They haven't lost their composure everytime they faced a deficit be it against the Sixers or Celtics. They need to do the same against the Bulls.

Between D-Rose, D-Wade, and LeBron -- expect free throws. A LOT OF THEM. During Miami's closing game vs. Boston, free throws almost cost them. The Heat needs to convert on a high clip of their free throws.

Heat could also strategically put LeBron @ the 4 and let him play power forward. He should have no problem matching up. The Wade and LeBron pick and roll is deadly, especially when LeBron plays the 4 spot.

Homecourt is huge. The Bulls need to take advantage of it, while the Heat needs to steal at least ONE of the first two. A lot of pressure will be on Miami if they ever go down 0-2. They haven't trailed any series so far in the playoffs.

Despite having homecourt and a 3-0 season series lead, the Bulls are still the underdogs, huh?


To wrap things up: I'm picking the Bulls to win in 6. I don't think Miami has what it takes to defeat the forces of the unstoppable MVP Derrick Rose, the team's ultimate passion and will to win, the executive of the year Gar Forman, and the master plots of coach of the year Tom Thibodeau. My heart still says Heat in 6, though. Again Heat fans, don't be disappointed with me. If you know me well and have followed my predictions and pieces earlier, you would understand why and know why I picked Chicago in 6. I did pick Boston in 6 the previous time around. Look how that ended up I would gladly be happy if Miami can prove me wrong and defeat the Bulls, though!

Should be a heck of a series!

Game 1 begins Sunday at Chicago with an 8 PM ET start, exclusively on TNT.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Celtics vs. Heat -- Breakdown of Game 1

Boston Celtics 90, Miami Heat 99: FINAL

Quick tweetform (as always) on my thoughts about the Heat's game 1 win drawing first blood against the Celtics............

- To start off, I was VERY impressed by the crowd last night. I guess they finally learned how to fan up.

- The starting tandem of Big Z and Bibby was still horrible, though they did have some small positive contributions.

- By his standard, LeBron wasn't really on it offensively. His defense, though. That was spectacular. Great night overall for the King.

- Dwyane Wade. Beast. 'Nuff said.

- Chris Bosh. Ahhhhhhh. Wrote several times that he will be a huge key for this series if Miami wants to win. Fortunately for the Heat, Garnett didnt take advantage too and they ended up canceling each other out with mediocre outings.

- James Jones. Damn. Keep it up, son!

- After a great Game 5 vs. Philly, Chalmers disappeared in this one. Still need to step up as the Heat would like to see more from the bench, particularly from the point guard position.

- Joel Anthony is all about heart. Cant respect him enough. He came up big and hopefully he would mantain this high energy level to help Miami win the series.

- Mike Miller (yes that dude) actually stepped in the court and played. By our expectations, he's still horrible obviously, but the effort was there and I actually thought he had a decent game.

- Rebounding was another point I talked about. 39 apiece in Game 1.

- Boston still had tons of chances, but the Heat eventually punked em with physical play.

- The D on Ray Allen was nice. Good defense, but better offense by Jesus Shuttlesworth.

- Still, overall, I think this Heat team could play way better than this game. Same could be said for the Celtics. Game 2 should be some great stuff.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Round 2: Celtics vs. Heat Preview

Here’s my  (tweet form sorta) preview/analysis of the upcoming Heat-Celtics semis. Should be EPIC.

-          Hard to say who’ll win. Let’s start from Miami’s standpoint:

It depends which Heat team appears. If its the Heat team that just coasts, chills, exclusively relies on pure talent, plays without a sense of urgency, shooters bricking their shots, LeBron choking, Wade whining to the refs/coasting with his defense, and Bosh playing like a homo intimidated by KG shows up, then this is easily the Celtics in 5 or 6. That is the sad truth, Heat fans. This is the worst case scenario that could happen, so let’s hope and pray it doesn’t reach to that point!

The Heat needs to be MENTALLY TOUGH in order to win this series. If it's the Heat team that's fired up, motivated, hustles and grinds, attacks relentlessly, shooters providing a boost, and features a solid Chris Bosh showing up, then Miami in 6. Bosh is a big key for Miami. You just don’t know which of the 2 Heat teams will show up in a game, as it’s been really divided and inconsistent throughout the season. At least Boston are already proven that they can turn it on anytime which is always scary for the opposing squad, and it appears they already have with their solid play against New York (granted, the Knicks were not 100%, but still………) so consistency wouldn’t be that much of a problem for them as opposed to Miami. With that said, the whole Heat fam is obviously hoping that the latter Heat version appears.

BOTTOMLINE: Miami at all costs, CAN NOT afford to have slow starts similar to their first round outing against Philly. ESPECIALLY AGAINST A CHAMPIONSHIP TESTED TEAM LIKE THE BOSTON CELTICS. They encountered this multiple times back in the regular season too, where they just let the opponent absolutely start out on fire and just rely on the “Nah, we’re just gonna be fine. We can come back easily” mentality. That’s a huge NO-NO in this series. Do that and you get your ass whooped by Boston in 4 or 5 games.

And obviously, there’s this “Who’s the REAL CLOSER?!?” or “How do we close?!” problem that still continues to haunt the Heat. Only time will tell if they can finally solve this, and if by any chance do it against the Boston Celtics of all contenders……..then watch out, Thunder, Bulls, Lakers, whoever. That means that Miami might be finally ready for the biggest stage amongst all.

The Heat were seriously threatened by a young 76ers squad. They were athletic and made Miami run. The Celtics are old, so the Heat should run as much as they can, especially considering their halfcourt offense only consists of “LeIso”, “D-Iso”, “CB-Iso”, or “Pick and roll/pop with CB”. Miami needs to overwhelm Boston with their athleticism. Controlling the boards has also been a huge story for the Heat thus far in their first season together. That would be another aspect that they need to take advantage of if they expect to advance to the ECF. The Heat can't rely on jumpshots. They need to attack the rim and expose Boston's age. Miami also needs to avoid holding the ball for way too much as Boston's D will load up and force them to have a difficult time.

This series would also finally show if Spo has “it”. Does he?

Going up against Doc Rivers is tough, but this would be a GREAT learning experience for Spo and would help him down the road shall Miami overcome the Celtics. Does he have what it takes to……(dare I say it) outcoach Doc, or at least make it a respectable bout when it comes to the coaching department? Time will tell. I do predict that if Spo fails to reach the Finals at least, his ass would be axed by Riley. Spo also needs to do a better job of motivating the players during pre-game speeches and the huddles. That’s why many people wanted Riles to come back since Riley excels at that part while Spo doesn’t, but im with Pat. Let’s see what Spo can do first before judging to any conclusions.

Finally, my last point for the Miami Heat: HOMECOURT ADVANTAGE. Since they finished with a better overall record than Boston even though the Celtics won the season match-up 3-1, the Heat still holds HCA. Can they actually use that though??

Fans in South Beach are known to be horrible ever since the Shaq era ended. The crowd in the earlier eras were much much better. Before, during 2008-early 2010 times, it was a loyalty problem with the fanbase. Now, it’s financial.

I’ve tweeted this numerous times and even though some of my fellow Heat fans bash me for this, this is the TRUTH.  Miami’s crowd sucks compared to the other teams. Im sorry if this hurts, but please take off your homer glasses for a second and do a reality check. I could see the financial excuse acceptable, though.

Wonder why fans aren’t that great, and loud, even with LeBron, Bosh, Wade, and Joel Anthony in our team? Here’s why: the rich bandwagon fake “Heat fans” get to sit in the lower bowl, which is what we see in telecasts, so people already judge the whole Miami crowd to whatever the lower bowl does/shows, which isn't right. Back to the rich fans: they’re the only ones that could spend that huge money on them nice seats. Im been bashing the official Miami HEAT Twitter account too, about the prospect of decreasing their way too expensive prices for the benefit of all HEAT fans, but to no avail. The real HEAT fans are stuck either: A.) In the higher bowl and nosebleed seats or B.) In their couches watching the game since they can’t afford them tix.

I don’t have any problem with the rich fans as they deserve those seats since they earned them….well except for one: FAN UP YALL! Smh. Every Heat game, the people in the lower bowl comes WAY TOO LATE (been the case for the decade, but still…..) and guys, you need to actually CHEER FOR YOUR TEAM. Make some noise or something. These so called fans make the ballgame sound like a GOLF GAME. Just look at the other team’s fans. Way too different. I’m jealous. I’m sorry for kinda turning this to a rant, but to summarize: Heat fans need to be behind the team and cheer out loud. That alone is a huge factor in energizing the team, and that would help the Heat defeat Boston. Homecourt is underrated. Ya feel me?

And if Udonis Haslem can finally come back to the court for this round, that would be huge. His championship experience and leadership would be a huge plus in the Heat lockerroom. His defense and the ability to knock down jumpshots would boost the Heat's chances to a higher level. Joel Anthony's basically doing what Haslem does minus the offense. Everytime Joel's in the game, Miami sacrifices and is forced to go 4 on 5 in every offensive possession. Now with Haslem on board, the Heat gets a way better Joel Anthony that can play with offense. That also means we won't get to see Juwan Howard ever step on a basketball court again. Get well soon, UD!

Now on to Boston’s side………..

Miami may have the two best players in the series -- but Rondo, coaching, and experience are some huge advantages to name a few for Boston. The C’s have the savvy vets which are championship tested. The C's swept the Knicks back in the 1st round, but are they actually that good? You know, they struggled against New York before their big 3 all suffered injuries. Mike D'Antoni was forced to rely on the likes of Anthony Carter and Jared Jeffries, and you know what happens if you do that. Was the sweep a result of an absolute ass whooping, or was it just fool's gold? How KG does on Bosh is gonna be interesting too. The Celtics bench would also need to give out their hand and give the team a lift and outscore the Heat’s bench. (does the Heat even have a bench though?? Lol jk.) Another big key that I see are the TWO O’Neals. Will Shaq even play in the series? If he does, Miami will have their hands full. Expect to see a lot of Erick Dampier and Jamaal Magloire as a counter from coach Spo. Will Jermaine O’Neal make his presence felt? Or will he pull a 2009-2010 Jermaine O’Neal and single handedly cost his team the series?

(Should I give you a history lesson? Ok here goes: JO was terrible last year from all fields, with his atrocious FG% leading the way that cost the Heat their 1st round series against…..the Celtics. Kinda ironic, huh.)

Well, maybe not quite the latter as JO won’t get the shots he used too anymore since Boston signed him mainly to anchor their frontcourt defense alongside Kevin Garnett. Miami entrusted him as their 2nd/3rd option last year, which probably equates to you entrusting Delonte to take care of your mom while you’re out of the house. But still……………with Kendrick Perkins no longer in their side, can the Celtics rely on him to help on KG in the D department against the big 3 of Miami? Can the two aging and aching O’Neals do it for Boston?? Will they be enough?? Do they still have IT?? Those are only some questions that I, and you, wanna know.

As much as I love coach Spo, I predict that Doc Rivers will absolutely murder Erik Spoelstra in this series…..we all know that, but like I said earlier – let’s see if Spo can prove us wrong. (which I hope he does, but I do think Joel Anthony scoring 81 points is more likely to happen than that.)

Expect Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen to have a great series. Can Wade survive those screens? Does he have the proper defensive discipline? With Miami’s unfortunate luck against shooters all season long, I WOULD NOT BE SURPRISED AT ALL if Allen gets a 60 point game in this series. I’m not joking. He kills us everytime. Dwyane Wade has been lazy defending opposing players lately. Boston’s backcourt will be the biggest concern for Miami. The Heat could only hope that Chalmers, Wade, Mike Miller, and such can actually contain or do at least, a decent job on the two of them.

Finally, we know for now that Boston also executes 1059039240940290x better in the endgame than the Heat. They’ve mastered it as a specialty. No question one of the best veteran teams in the league today. Will age factor in against the young Heat squad though? C’s have more chemistry and experience, so they have the edge there without a doubt. That’s key. And you bet your ass of that this series will be a tight one. The playoffs in general this season has been AMAZING thus far with exciting finishes, and im expecting this series to feature games like such where it comes down to the last minute. We obviously know that the Heat kinda “suck” in crunchtime situations, so let’s see if either the Celtics can take advantage or LeBron and/or Wade can prove their worth and shine in the big stage amongst all.

LeBron got eliminated by Boston last season. D-Wade also got eliminated by Boston last season. Can they finally seek revenge? Or will the Celtics continue their dominant winning ways??

This IS the time for Miami. No knock on the Chicago Bulls, they’re a nice team and have the best record for a reason, but this is actually the real ECF in my books. Too bad this came earlier in the semis. And if you want a prediction from me, well here goes: As much as it pains me to type the words I'm about to type, my mind says Boston in 6. I don't think the Miami Heat are quite ready for this yet. I'm not doubting Miami's basketball capabilities and talent. I'm doubting their mental toughness down the stretch for this series. I'm praying, hoping, and wishing they make me eat my words though, cause I would gladly eat crow if they can prove we're ready to beat Boston. I'm not quite as confident in comparison to the 06 playoffs since we had Riles back then. That's a huge difference. My heart still says Miami in 6 though and I'm hoping that's what happens. I still have faith, no doubt, in the Heat's chances and no question I want my team to win it all the way. But I just have that strange bad feeling about this series, you know, and I'm already prepared for the worst -- but I'm still hoping for the best. And if there are Heat fans reading this right now, it may actually be a good thing that I picked Boston in 6 because my track record indicates I suck at predictions, ha. So who knows.

This is put up or shut up for the Heat. This is the perfect time to prove their haters and doubters wrong even if it’s only the semis. It’s all about #WINNING. Nothing less. Win or go home. SHOULD BE A HELL OF A SERIES.

Game 1 starts Sunday at 3:30PM ET on ABC.