Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Jazz Heat: Milsap's 46

First things first, Paul Milsap. Wow. 3-3 from 3 and 46 points. He's looking great on offense. Duh. New teammate Al Jefferson, however, is not. I've watched three Jazz games thus far, and in all of them, Big Al's looked lost and simply hasn't been able to finish plays. It's like he can't believe he's getting the ball when he's open. I still think that he'll come around, but not sure how everything is going to work out when Mehmut Okur comes back. Who starts? Jefferson, who's generously listed as 6-10, looks closer to 6-8. As was the case in Minnesota, he's really a power forward. But, how can you bring Milsap off the bench when he's been playing so well? Sloan will figure it out. Look for this team to be dangerous come playoff time, especially when Deron Williams can throw up 19 and 12 assists in 24 minutes of basketball. Crazy. Once Al starts hitting those little chippies he's seemingly constantly missing, Williams' assists will jump up. One last nitpick I noticed about Jefferson, he gets his hands on a lot of rebounds, but fails to pull them in on way too many occasions. Not to continue to compare him to Carlos Boozer, but Boozer pulls those balls in.

As for the Heat, notice how Dwyane Wade was the guy finishing the game. From the point in the fourth quarter when the Jazz took the lead 81-80, Wade scored 19 of the final 34 Miami points and hit the game tying three with 17 seconds left. Of course, he blew a crucial freethrow in regulation that would have made CJ Miles' three-point heave a must and Milsap's last second put back moot. Speaking of freebies, I know Utah's defensive game plan involves a large amount of fouling, but the fact that Miami shot 47 freethrows to the Jazz's 21 despite the Jazz scoring 56 points in the paint to Miam's 36, just is a bit curious. No conspiracy theories here, just an observation.

Another observation, or something to watch for, is if any of these guys make the all-star team. Well, as starters at least. Not only do the Heat have a huge target on their backs thanks to Lebron's decision, his butt hurt commercials and twitter proclamations, the big three's pyrotechnic-filled dance fest announcing their greatness to the world, and all of the media (ESPN cough, cough) hype, not sure the fan vote will be there for any of them. Add to this theory the indisputable fact that none of them are having real standout seasons (especially Bosh), there is every possibility that none of them start in the all-star game. I wonder how that plays on their psyches.

It's apparent that Bosh's mental state is already frazzled. He's a much, much better player than he's shown in the first eight games, but with his comments about trying to fit in and needing to just go out and play, paired with his inability to have an impact on the glass (only one double digit outing coupled with a couple of games with only one, yeah, one rebound) and Bosh's soft label continues to follow him around even though he's no longer the man on this team. If his struggles continue along with the Heat's mediocre play through 25 games or so, it won't be Lebron taking the brunt of the backlash. Bosh is going to get his share of criticism despite being the third wheel on this team.

As for Lebron, I just don't see the Magic in him. Sure, he makes some great passes, but his "creating" for others is wildly overrated. Passing to an open man is not necessarily creating a good shot for someone else. Lebron can hit the guys that are open, but he doesn't always create for his teammates. Not like Magic. Just as a point of reference, Magic's Lakers led the league in offensive rating seven times and finished second twice. A Lebron-centric team has never led the league in offensive rating. In fact, the best a Lebron-led team has finished is fourth in 08-09. And for those who say the Cavs didn't have the necessary talent, just check out how well they're doing right now without the King.

Are the Heat going to be good? I believe they can be, after all, they're already a good defensive squad. However, could I see egos getting in the way after some all-star snubs and a continued bout of losing? Sure. I could also see Wade or Bosh or both going down for an extended amount of time and unlike the 09-10 Cavs (12-deep squad) this Heat team lacks enough impact players off the bench. We're only eight games into the new season, but 72 wins is already out the window. The Heat better start focusing on just playing hard and smart for 48 minutes each and every night because taking things for granted has gotten Lebron exactly zero rings.

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