Monday, October 20, 2008

Hardwood Paroxysm's 2008-2009 Season Preview: Miami Heat

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our mind.
Wo! have no fear for atomic energy,
cause none of them-a can-a stop-a the time.
How long shall they kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look?
Yes, some say its just a part of it:
Weve got to fulfil de book.
Wont you help to sing
Dese songs of freedom? -
cause all I ever had:
Redemption songs -

Your opening preview is by Matt Moore.

Season 3 of LOST.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Soundgarden's Down On The Upside.

The 2008-2009 Miami Heat.

Let me explain.

Once you've taken the steps to escalate the plotline, and you're entering the part where things get really interesting, you stand on a precipice. This generally follows a moment of great tragedy, adversity, or trepidation. It is a remarkable moment.

"It's only after we've lost everything, that we're free to do anything."

Similarly, the Heat enter this season with very little, and yet everything they need. Mark Blount is their starting center. Marcus Banks is at the top of their point guard list. Joel Anthony will probably get significant minutes. Dorrell Wright is a significant contributor. Chris Quinn will get time.

But then there's the bright spots. Shawn Marion is healthy and ready to up his value, either for a new contract next year that he's been chasing for season after season, or to increase his trade value. Michael Beasley has a legitimate shot at the Rookie of the Year. He is explosive, sculpted, extensively talented, and has moments where he truly gets it.

Then there's 2.0. Dwyane Wade has been reborn, somehow stronger, faster, more explosive. More power, less acceleration. More finish, less finesse. Less renaissance, more revenge. This season could very well be a Garnett-circa-2002-2003 year for Wade. Tremendous personal season, limited success, but limited by the lack of a true team of support. Wade's going to gamble more, which means he'll stress his team's defense which will inevitably break. He'll maintain a high level of turnovers without a consistent point. But he'll also have streaks where he's some sort of superweapon, a machine that just destroys everything on the court for minutes, maybe games, at a time. The strength he's added will make him a better finisher, still drawing fouls but in more and-one opportunities. His full embrace of this team as his and his alone could be something to see. But the rest of the team is too raw and he'll have to see if Beasley is mentally tough enough to make it.

There is always the X-factor, though, in the form of Shawn Marion. From the start I've looked at this roster and the way Pat Riley shirked from free agent after free agent and said the same thing. "He's biding his time to move Marion." He knows he's got the most valuable trade asset, and it'll only get more valuable as injuries and failed lineups start to make an impression. Riley built the Heat championship team by trading multiple young assets for one superstar. Riley now has the opportunity to complete the circle. He can trade Marion to a team with multiple assets to fit around Wade. He doesn't need superstar return. He just needs a capable point guard and some big men that can rebound. If Riley manages the trade right and pulls the trigger on the right team at the right time, he can instantly create some sort of reactor built around Wade's colliding isotopes.

This team doesn't have to really add great players, like Cleveland is still waiting to do. It just has to put guys in place to let Wade and Beasley be themselves with less pressure. A point guard that can manage bringing the ball up the floor, setting the offense, get Wade the ball, and know when to retrieve it to reset is all they need in the backcourt. And a power 4/5 that is tall, can rebound and dunk is all they need downlow. A compliment to Haslem, the braun to Beasley's... ahem... brains.

The worst case scenario for the Heat is they are the Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde of the NBA, brilliant around Matrix and Wade one night, tragically inept around Anthony and Chris Quinn the next. The best case scenario is Riley finds enough pieces to satisfy the trade, and the Heat have a nucleus to take to the playoffs and beyond. Even in losing, there is redemption. It's a process, not a statement.


VISION By Rob Mahoney



Dwyane Wade. 2008 Olympics. Every single Miami Heat fan had to have been loving the performance Dwyane put in at the Olympics this season. DWade is back and he is looking better than ever. Add in a new coach who seems like he is chomping at the bit to get started and the ever-intriguing Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers and there will be lots to look out for this season.

Beasley will be fun to watch no matter what else happens in Miami. A beast in college, a bit wild and a whole lot likeable, he is going to be one of the biggest storylines of this year in the NBA. He alone will make the Heat worth tuning in to. Add to that the many question marks that surround his squad, and we've got a keeper.

Will Shawn Marion smile or pout? Will the boys manage to put the pieces back together again after the disaster that was last season. Can my boy Marcus Banks finally prove his worth (please, say it's time!). Joel Anthony and his former D-League/Canadian National Team self makes me proud and of course, of course, most importantly of all, we've got Shaun Livingston on this roster. Livingston, people. Many thought he'd never make it back, many still can't stomach the very thought of his injuries, and here he is. I wanted to watch this guy develop as a player since I'd read about him in high school and after seeing his love of the game shine through this ridiculously long uphill battle of rehab and recovery, I can only hope he gets a chance to have a real career.

Of utmost importance on this roster is Chris Quinn. Yes, Quinny. The boy that so unfairly got thrown under the bus when Shaquille O'Neal was feeling the need to mouth off. Quinn was (and is), a bright spot for me last season. Probably should have never been in the situation he was, yet he still managed to make a fan out of me. I hope Quinny keeps it up this season and has an easier time with Dwyane, Marion and Beasley on the floor.


The Ghost of Pat Riley. Let me lay it out for you. A rejuvenated Heat. Wade 2.0. Matrix playing for a giant contract. Beasley being beastly. Chalmers calming down the point slot. Udonis Haslem brusing it up. Eric Spoelstra looking like a little Luigi Pirandello spinning it all together. Yes, I did just drop an Italian dramatist reference on you, so suck it. Then, you wake up one brisk March morning as the Heat are surging towards a top 4 seed in the East. And then, THWAPPOW!!!! The Godfather himself (or Satan incarnate, your call). Either way, its Pacino-esque. Riley is now back as coach. And the NBA makes me want to vomit.

Just as the other Luigi to Riley's Mario. We all remember how SVG got pwned out of a ring by a coup d'Riley back in 2006. You can feel that same ominous, brooding cloud hovering over South Beach. Just as the Heat get good (and boy, hasn't it been a blast pissing all over them for the last couple years), the good get bodyslammed. Spoelstra will have a better chance finishing the season as the head coach of Miami-Dade High School than with the Heat. There are very few reasons that everyone can agree upon detesting in the League. And one of those is Pat "My Soul Stinks Worse Than My Hair Gel and You Can Smell Both In Heaven" Riley. He will swoop in, like a lion pouncing on a wonded water buffalo, and jump on the Heat skyrocket as the regular season wanes. Or, if the Heat suck, Riley will still kick his ass out, send him to coach the Mad Ants and preside over the trade that send Shawn Marion to the Grizzlies and brings back Hakim Warrick, Darko (who I know, for a fact, Riley still believes in) and 15 pounds of ribs. Just you wait and see. And when your spleen explodes when you see Riley's greasy, botoxed mug on TV come spring, you will look back on this article and kiss my gel-headed hating ass. Suck it, Heat.



Tell me one person that is rooting against Shaun Livingston. Go on. I'll wait.


I feel like the universe was trying to talk to Riley with the James Jones injury. "No, really, Pat. Pull the trigger. Marion's not getting any younger and your training staff sucks. You should do this now. What? You don't want to listen to me? Bam! There goes your top free agent! Next thing to go is Udonis' hamstring, Pat! Don't make me hurt you!"

True or False: Beasley and Chalmers is 70% of the chemistry needed for Harold and Kumar Play The Knicks.

When Wade adopts the 2.0 for his next shoe campaign, just remember who taught you.

I wonder if Shawn imagines his dollar value just ringing up like a cash register whenever he does something well.

Of course Chris Quinn is from Notre Dame. Of course.

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