Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Onslaught Versus The Fortress Of Servitude: Heat at Cavs 12.28.08

Notes from the Miami Heat versus the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Q on December 28th, 2008.

  • How good are you at sizing up something you have a conflict with? How long does it take you to evaluate what you're up against and how best to overcome that obstacle? Now imagine you have less than two seconds to make that assertion. Imagine that while making that assertion, you're moving at full speed directly towards it, while it's moving full speed to stop you and you don't know whether it's going to move towards you or move to cut off your trajectory. Now realize that Dwyane Wade manages to routinely make professional NBA defenders look silly. That's right. Silly. Like silly girls with pigtails. There's a play early in the third where he crossed up Z and though Z had a perfect angle on him and was playing it conservatively, Z ended up facing the exact wrong way while Wade slipped an off-hand lay-in off the glass.
  • I've been developing a theory. It's called the West-James-Mind-Meld Theory. It goes something like this.
    • At some point during this dunk, part of LeBron's consciousness was transferred to Delonte West. The sheer violence of the act imparted part of LeBron's in-game identity to West's noggin. This did not let West imitate James in any way, but instead made him the perfect partner to LeBron.
    • Upon the trade that sent West to the Cavs, this shared consciousness became evident. West found himself in full-court transition scenarios and instead of challenging the basket as has been taught to him his entire life, he automatically looked for LeBron, resulting in a series of devastating, jaw dropping alley-oops.
    • In return, James rewarded West for his assent to the way of LeBron, and started setting him up in situations instead of throwing the ball at the basket.
    • This connection has survived even Mo Williams' arrival, and in fact, has been assisted by West's newfound freedom.
  • It's startling to see what happens when you let a player fill the role they're meant to. West gambling on steals and pestering Wade, setting up on the perimeter for LeBron's drive and kick, constantly throwing himself at the ball or basket like a kamikaze small guard, it brings joy to my heart. West may end up being the unlikely Robin to LeBron's Batman. All this time, we've been looking for someone equally skilled but in different ways. Yet, Robin was never Batman's equal. He was a sidekick. Someone to be rescued from giant robotic spiders, to toss him that last batarang when the Penguin turned his gun on him, someone for the Joker to beat to death with a crowbar. West gives LeBron someone to run with, to tousle his hair (even tonight you saw LeBron checking West's arm to see if he was bleeding after a skirmish like a worried hen), and to shake hands with. West provides him all the auxiliary firepower he wants, without any of the homosexual overtones of the caped crusaders.
  • At what point do we stop waiting for LeBron's jumper to arrive consistently? It's like a Ryan Adams concert. Sure, when it shows up it's glorious and transformative. But a lot of the time you just end up pissed off you've been waiting so long for something that just played three chords and then walked off stage.
  • Wade's jumper, on the other hand, still surprises you with its fluency. It waltzes in, charms the waitress, gets the drinks for free, and then waltzes out with the bottle of 15 year Scotch. Sure, sometimes it gets tiresome or tries too hard, but man, when he sets both feet and isn't trying to fade Like Mike, it's lightning bottled and sold in Sex Panther bottles.
  • You know how you know a lead is going to fade? When Udonis Haslem is working his range, that's how.
  • When the Cleveland offense stagnated in the third, the Cleveland announce team noted that the Cavs were just "pushing it to LeBron and hoping he comes up with something" (to paraphrase). To which everyone watching at home said "Oh, so just like the last five years."
  • Chalmers'energy is contagious, it just doesn't have anything behind it yet. That's a project that should work out well for them. Unlike Banks, which is the New Coke experiment.
  • Anderson Varejao has what I would call a "Neato"offense. He does things that you don't expect him to do, and that aren't really necessary. Like a can-opener that also irons your socks. Or a VCR that also serves as an electric-razor. It's not that you don't appreciate their versatility, and it's kind of neat, but it's just not what you're looking for.
  • There are few more hilarious moments for an NBA junkie than that moment where both teams realize the refs have itchy whistle lips and just start pushing to see what they can get called. It started when Wade got Gibson to brush his forearms for the shooting foul, and carried all the way through Delonte West simply falling over when he ran out of options like he just pulled the microchip out of his brain and shot it to prevent the enemy from decoding its contents, only to find a foul called. I know it's infuriating for the casual fan and the other team's fans, but you see it so much, you have to laugh at it. Wade's one of the best at drawing fouls, but the Cavs are sheer artists at creating phantom fouls from nothing.
  • Shawn Marion is filling in all the areas he wasn't brought to Miami to do, and not filling all the roles he was. It's the most awkward fit. It's like a polar bear in a tu-tu plopped into the middle of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. You may still get "The Impression That I Get" but you still don't know what the hell it's doing there.

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