The playoffs are in full swing, so unless I am drunk, hungover, binging/purging, involved in a domestic dispute, creeping, negotiating a CBA on behalf of the NBA owners, arrested, or just plain lazy, expect a column every few days with notes on the 2012 NBA Playoffs, a “Realist Point Of View”.
Heat vs. Celtics
Now that the Scheme Team has advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals, fans are not only wondering why it took so long for Dwyane Wade and Lebron James to simultaneously explode, but whether they can sustain their level of play for the remainder for the playoffs, and particularly against the Boston Celtics.
In last week’s column, I felt strongly that the answer was a firm “yes”. If we have already seen playoff scoring eruptions from dynamic duos in past such as Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant from 2001-2003 and Elgin Baylor and Jerry West throughout the 60s, then why not Dwyane Wade and Lebron James?
Then I re-watched the tape, and realized just how badly Frank Vogel had gotten outcoached in the Miami-Indiana series, particularly with his failure to trap Lebron and Wade, or at minimum, vary his defensive schemes. Once Eric Spoelstra finally caught on by Game 3, Lebron/Wade began exposing the Pacers’ defense by involving Roy Hibbert in as many screen/rolls as possible, waiting for Hibbert to fall back instead of “show” or trap, and then attacking the paint with a variety of floaters and layups.
This will not happen against the Boston Celtics. Doc Rivers, unlike Frank Vogel, WILL trap Lebron James and Dwyane Wade and is known to mix up his defensive schemes against elite perimeter players. Moreover, Kevin Garnett is the BEST big man in the NBA when it comes to trapping the screen & roll. His ability to move his feet and utilize his length will force Miami’s dynamic duo to either take more perimeter shots than they did against Indiana, or defer to their role players.
However, while Wade/Lebron may fail to experience the same level of offensive proficiency that they did during the Indiana series, they should nonetheless overcome the Celtics fairly easily given their age and injuries. I’d be shocked if this series went more than 6 games.
What should I wear?
I’m still trying to nail down my attire for next week’s big meeting. The good news is that I have narrowed down my choices to the following, or perhaps even a combination thereof.
Before we close the season on the Philadelphia 76ers, I’d like to recognize Doug Collins for once again overachieving with his 2012 squad, and proving again that Collins remains one of the best Coaches in the NBA.
Since his first head coaching stint in 1987, Collins has steadily improved the fortunes of every NBA team that he has coached including the Bulls, Pistons, Wizards, and now the Sixers. And while he mimics the Larry Brown approach of simultaneously maximizing his team’s talents while burning them out within 3-years, he is immensely valuable when it comes to changing an organization’s culture, transforming his team’s attitude, and laying a solid foundation for the future.
Hopefully, Collins will one day get the opportunity to coach a team with elite-level talent and compete for a championship.