There's a reason I refer to the Heat from time to time this season as a flying death machine. It's because of things like this. From NBAHighlightsHQ on YouTube:
Posted on: February 26, 2012 10:15 pm
Posted on: February 26, 2012 9:38 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 9:57 pm
By Matt Moore
LeBron put on a show (not as good of one as Kevin Durant) at the All-Star Game and showed why everyone was so irritated he missed the dunk contest for the third year in a row. This time it was a modified switch-hand, cradle-rock windmill. You know. Run of the mill stuff.
So he's got that going for him.
Posted on: February 24, 2012 1:39 am
Edited on: February 24, 2012 1:48 am
By Matt Moore
Each night, Eye on Basketball brings you what you need to know about the games of the NBA. From great performances to terrible clock management the report card evaluates and eviscerates the good, the bad, and the ugly from the night that was.
Miami 102 New York 88
Oklahoma City 100 Lakers 85
Posted on: February 23, 2012 10:41 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 10:49 pm
Magic and momentum can take you far in this world. Things happen in sports that defy logic and reason. They happen all the time in the NBA. The 8th seed Warriors with no discernible defense knocking off one of the best regular season teams of the decade in Dallas. The Nuggets toppling the Sonics in the 90's. Sundiata Gaines hitting a game winner. In football, Tim Tebow knocked off the Steelers. It only took injuries to half of Pittsburgh's team to pull it off. Sometimes the story is greater than the facts.
But eventually, there's science. Cold, hard, science.
On Thursday night, Linsanity got a cold dose of LeBrontology, as Miami downed New York 102-88.
It wasn't primarily James doing the damage, it was the Heat's suffocating team defense. It was Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem, Shane Battier attacking Jeremy Lin's dribble, it was Wade, Chris Bosh, Chalmers, and Battier on offense. But James was the tip of the spear at both ends, and putting on another MVP performance in a big game setting with 20 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 steals,, and 2 blocks. Want proof this game mattered to James? 40 minutes, before the All-Star break. He contained Lin, forced him into traps, and the Heat took away Lin's right, then took away his dribble, and always, always, always started the break with one of their athletic wings streaking in for the finish.
It was a blitzkrieg, it was a bum rush, it was a stampede by Miami, and the Knicks were left trampled underfoot.
By the end of the game any hope of Lin turning on one of the furious comebacks he's created this year fell by the wayside, instead the Knicks reverted to B.L. (Before Lin) thinking, with Carmelo Anthony isolating for contested jumpers, the rhythm destroyed for New York. It was an impressive win, but far from a blowout.
The Knicks had things going for them, and in reality, this game represents well where the two teams are. The Knicks are dangerous, now. When Anthony is slashing to the basket, when Amar'e Stoudemire is taking advantage of opportunities, when Tyson Chandler is a force at the rim, and on any other night when Lin is able to create scoring opportunities, the Knicks have what it takes to make a playoff run and run to the second round. That they were over-matched is not indicative of the degree of this team's flaws, less than a week in with this complete roster.
The fact that Miami slammed the door so emphatically in the second half is.
The Big 3 scored 67 points, the bench gave them 27. But it was their game plan that shows what this team can do when it's in gear. The formula is simple. Turn the opponent over, run, run, run it down their throat. Rinse, lather, repeat. There will come a time when the Heat offense again looks pathetic, stagnant, pedestrian. But the Knicks caught them at a time when they are at their very best. This Heat team smothers your possession, dissects your ball movement, then punishes you with their speed and athleticism. I call it the Flying Death Machine for a reason. That New York hung in says a lot about their talent level.
Lin was sloppy, running into defenders, desperate to try and create space, contained on the drive and deterred from his sweet spots. The Heat can talk all they want about not adjusting their game to their opponent, but this was a concerted effort to cut the Knicks' mythological head clean off. With Lin buried, the Knicks offense was fine, for a while, but eventually it caught up. That may be the most impressive piece of the Heat's performance. Amar'e Stoudemire hurt the Heat in the first half. They made him vanish in the second half. The perimeter shooting killed them throughout the game, but eventually the Heat started anticipating the passes. They gave up a lot of size inside, but the bigger the game became, the better Joel Anthony (5 blocks) played.
And there was James, at it all, running and swiping and cutting and shooting. The Knicks were within ten under two-minutes. Lin turnover. Outlet pass. LeBron James emphatic dunk. The end.
Lin will adjust and get better, the Knicks will be fine. But this game showed itself to be another example of what we already knew.
The Miami Heat play above the rim, and a step above everyone else in the NBA right now. They are faster, stronger, better right now.
Posted on: February 23, 2012 8:25 pm
By Matt Moore
We told you that the Heat could create turnovers against Jeremy Lin and you saw it in the first half. After the first 24, Miami leads 5-47, as Jeremy Lin has six turnovers, and LeBron James has five steals (though not all are off Lin). Both Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers have done an excellent job of containing and pressuring Lin, while the rest of the Heat have attacked his dribble. Amar'e Stoudemire also has six turnovers, but has 11 points and 3 boards to go with it. Lin on the other hand has just 2 points and 2 assists.
It's a breakneck pace with the Heat running out in transition. LeBron James has 8 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 steals, and 2 turnovers. The defense for both teams has been very good despite the high shooting percentages.
Lin has to calm down and run the offense, and not force the issue. Mental and physical exhaustion have to be playing a part, but six turnovers in a single half is just too much. Steve Novak has nine points off the bench. A second quarter run gave the Knicks the lead briefly, but the Heat came right back by pushing the tempo again with Lin in the game. It's been a game of fast pace and big plays with huge blocks and dunks on both ends.
Posted on: February 23, 2012 4:15 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 4:28 pm
By Matt Moore
Okay, I'm going to use one pun here for this Knicks-Heat game Thursday night, and then we're going to go through the rest of it without a single one, not even Linsanity. But I have to get this one out there, OK?
This is Nuclear Lin-ter.
The unbelievable story of Jeremy Lin rolls into Miami at 7 p.m. EST Thursday night, and it's not out of this world to say that this is the biggest matchup of the season. The Knicks, 7-2 in the Jeremy Lin era (3-2 in their last five) take on the Heat on a seven-game winning streak, all by double-digits. The unheard-of phenomenon against the superstar monolith. It's David vs. Goliath, only Davis is armed to the teeth this time, with Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler, and J.R. Smith. It is the story that's captivated the minds and hearts of the sports world vs. one of the truly most hated, yet incredibly awesome in terms of ability teams in the history of sports.
This is going to be fun.
With that, here are your Knicks vs. Heat Storylines.
A Question of FitThe superstar teams have not come together seamlessly. There have been hiccups, problems, issues, complications, struggles and downright disasters. Last year's Heat team was a mess of athletic dynamos running into each other at times, and simply standing around ball-watching others. Things are different this season. The Heat have become a much more fluid offense, but there are still times when the hesitation presents itself and the defense can stifle the Heat into looking like four-year-olds playing four-square. Meanwhile, the Knicks were disastrous without Lin. Carmelo Anthony, point forward, was an era that lasted approximately five games before Mike D'Antoni realized that wouldn't work. Is Lin the engine that can make this go? In two games with Anthony back, the Knicks are 1-1. Anthony hasn't put up big numbers, neither has Lin. But the offense has been efficient and balanced. This game is a chance for each side to present its best offering as to how they've come to fit together. The Heat can demonstrate the pieces have assembled into the Flying Death Machine they've been this season. The Knicks can show they have the engine to make the parts work with a legit point guard.
Because if neither team fits well together last night, the other might run away with the game.
Guarding Jeremy LinLeBron James has already said he will guard Lin for portions of the evening, and that's no surprise. What will be worth watching is how Lin adjusts. James is a monster perimeter defender because, well, he's the size of a truck and has the lateral quickness to stay with absolutely anyone. Lin, on the other hand, does a terrific job at two things, forcing the split of the double-team (though that's where most of his turnovers come from), and managing that set in terms of when to pass and when to finish. He can force the pass sometimes, but in general he has a good sense of the set.
He's running up against a big problem in James, though. According to Synergy Sports, James forces a turnover on the pick-and-roll ball handler 23.1 percent of the time, which is extremely high. Think of how shooting 45 percent in any set is pretty decent, now imagine out of ten possessions, the player turns it over twice, and hits just three of the remaining shots (James holds those shooters to 40 percent shooting). With Lin's turnovers coming mostly out of the pick-and-roll as ball handler (26 percent of the time in a small sample size), this could be rough. Great defenses like Dallas' have struggled with containing Lin when he splits that double-team, but again, this is Miami. This is really the crux of the battle right here. The Miami shooters can contain the perimeter threats with their rotations, but the biggest offensive set threat happens if Lin gets loose out of that double. That will force the Heat to adjust which opens up things for Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire. No pressure, J.
Rivalry RenewedThis isn't going to get the press of the other stars, but does anyone else realize this is Tyson Chandler facing the same Heat team he annihilated in the Finals? Chandler's ability to convert offensive rebounds is going to be key in this game. Likewise, the Heat need to get him in foul trouble early. Chandler can be neutralized which puts capable but not-standout Jared Jeffries in to battle Joel Anthony and Udonis Haslem, matchups the Heat would much prefer. Chandler can crush teams if he gets going in the pick and roll or on tap backs. This is the biggest game of Chandler's season to date with the Knicks. He put the Mavericks into the list of champions over this team last year. How he dominates the glass will go a long way into deciding this game.
One-on-One-on-One-on-OneOddly enough, the same sets which give Miami and New York their worst performances may be necessary tonight. I've railed on the Heat for going Isolation too much as I do with nearly every NBA team, and the rest of the world has done the same to the Knicks, especially Carmelo Anthony. But the Heat's pick-and-roll defense is so good, their rotations so well-executed, that the best answer for them may simply be to let Anthony and Stoudemire do work one-on-one. Getting the Heat away from playing on a string takes away their biggest defensive strength outside of sheer athleticism. And for the Heat, the Knicks' defense is better this year despite having mostly the same players as a terrible one last season. The reason is systemic, not individual, and the best way to answer that is to isolate those poor defenders, Anthony and Stoudemire (and Fields) and try and blow past them.
In short, going hero ball is actually not a bad plan tonight.
The IndescribableThis is one of those moments. You know, the ones that form the tapestry of a season. The Heat are bagged on about not closing out games against elite competition, and Jeremy Lin has been as clutch as it comes in the fourth quarter. Carmelo Anthony has been accused of not being able to fit in an offense. The Heat crowd is typically terrible. Amar'e Stoudemire and Chris Bosh both have their demons. Both teams will blow off this game. It's one game in a regular season going by in a blur. But this game means something. The Lin phenomenon has taken the world by storm. Can it beat the best combination of talent in the NBA? Can the Heat finally step up and answer their critics resoundingly in a key moment?
This one's going to be fun.
Posted on: February 22, 2012 5:38 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 8:26 pm
By Matt Moore
On Tuesday, the blog Cleveland Frowns posted an interview with a server at XO, a Cleveland steakhouse regarding LeBron James. It described his eating behaviors, including the infamous stories about his tipping habits, among other things. There's the usual stuff about James acting like one of the most pampered people on earth, because, well, he's a guy who has "Chosen One" on his back, makes $16 million a year and calls himself King. You kind of have to prepare yourself for some stuff.
But this? I was not prepared for this (emphasis mine):
(S)he also told us that LeBron liked to drink apple martinis, which comes as no surprise because apple martinis are delicious, and if you had a job where you could take a four-hour nap every day to sleep off the sugar hangover, you would drink them, too. Relatedly, LeBron would ask his servers to have his steak (well done) already cut up for him, which corroborates a report by a (former?) server at Johnny’s who once told Grzegorek that LeBron would order his spaghetti cut up as well, and also of course enhances the credibility of our source.via “LeBron liked me because I didn’t put up with his crap” — Exclusive Interview with Former XO Steakhouse Server Who Frequently Waited on the NBA Superstar.
Look, I can forgive the appletinis (easy on the tini). I'm not expecting everyone to drink whiskey, scotch or gin (I suppose technically you could make a gin appletini, but I don't consider that real gin). It's a little ridiculous, but the man dunks on Kevin Garnett, I'm willing to let that slide.
Cut up for him?
I'm sorry, that's where I draw the line.
And listen, a bunch of stats-loving geeks are going to try and talk to you about food poisoning statistics and eating efficiency. But anyone who's ever actually eaten a steak at the professional level knows that's all nonsense. Real steak-eaters don't think of things like that. And they know that if you're ordering anything above medium-rare, you're essentially saying "please burn all the flavor out of this $35 piece of meat."
Having it cut up for you? What are you, Carlos Boozer? You worried about injury? Pick up your knife and cut your own steak like a man. The last time someone cut up a steak for me, I was six, and it was my mother. Part of the joy of eating a finely cooked steak is slicing into that meat. You know what having someone else do it is? It's the steak version of passing to someone else in the clutch with the clock running down. You're just trying to avoid the moment. I can understand if it's steak frites on the menu. That's like having Wade wide open under the basket screaming for the ball. But otherwise, he's just shrinking from the moment again.
See, this is why LeBron James can never win a championship.
Sure, he can appreciate fine foods and have great cakes delivered for his birthday parties. But when it's clutch time, when it's steak time, he's telling the chef to murder its taste and then having it cut up for him . Michael Jordan never had a steak cut up for him. Kobe probably kills and butchers his own cow. Derrick Rose may accidentally stab the waiter, his date, and the table sixteen times, but by God, he cuts his own and does it with style!This is what separates LeBron from everyone else. Just another example of why he'll never live up to the hype.
(If for some reason you cannot read through the blinding absurdity of this post, it is not meant to be serious. LeBron can eat his steak however he wants. )
(But for real, LeBron, you need to order that sucker medium-rare.)
Posted on: February 22, 2012 3:27 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 3:35 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Thursday could be the ultimate test for Jeremy Lin. Not because his Knicks will be taking on Miami Heat. But individually, because LeBron James, one of the best on-ball defenders in the game, says he'll likely guard Lin some.
"I know I'm going to end up guarding Lin at some point," LeBron told reporters Wednesday.
LeBron, as I'm sure you recall, switched to guard Derrick Rose for lage parts of the Eastern Conference Finals and essentially locked down the MVP. And while Jeremy Lin has had quite the start to his time in New York, he's not Derrick Rose.
And if LeBron's not guarding Lin, it will likely be Dwyane Wade. You know, just another elite defender. The Heat are one of the best teams in the league at creating turnovers and guess what, Jeremy Lin turns it over a lot. If there was ever a measuring bar to really see where Linsanity is at, Thursday's game against the Heat will be it.
LeBron also talked about Linsanity in general, saying “I never watch Harvard basketball. I never watch Harvard.’’ LeBron did tell reporters that he watched Lin against John Wall in the 2010 Summer League though. He's one of many too as that YouTube highlight video has some 1.2 million views. LeBron said he thinks people should celebrate the fact Lin is a good player and not just stick on him being Asian-American.
“I think it’s taken away from it, obviously,” he said.
LeBron on Lin being on a second straight week of Sports Illustrated: "Make sure he doesn’t take that for granted and get those covers and frame them and put them in his house.” LeBron would know. He's been on many an SI cover, starting in high school.
Worlds of hype will collide in South Beach Thursday with Linsanity meeting the Heat. It'll be a challenge for the Knicks, as they're still meshing since adding Carmelo Anthony along with the fact the Heat are really darn good. And for Lin, he's going to have to deal with looking across at King James defending him, which I'm sure is something he wasn't expecting to happen this season.
Via Fox Sports Florida