Thursday, October 30, 2008


Opening night for the NBA was Tuesday night, but for most teams, including the Miami Heat, they laced up the shoes last night. It marked the beginning of the Eric Spoelestra, I mean Michael Beasley era, but it looked more and more like last years incarnation of the Heat. A squad that gives up 120 points and often times looks like it does not belong in the NBA. They ended up making a comeback in the 4th quarter to make the final defeat a respectable 5 points, but it was too little too late. Here are my thoughts from the game.
-Most members of the team looked pretty bad, with the exception of Udonis Haslem, Marion Chalmers, and Daquan Cook.
-Even against Knicks, who do not have a prototypical Center, Haslem looked undersized. His effort will get him by on a lot of nights, but you got the idea last night that this team is really going to struggle against any kind of height. The small ball lineup will only work if Haslem gets some help on the boards.
-Chalmers was a revelation last night, looking as if he were in the league for 7 years and not just 7 pre-season games. He was a little shaky early on, but as the game went on he controlled the tempo and got his teammates in position to be effective. It was surprising how well he did on the boards, but it was also a blessing, cause Michael Beasley was nowhere to be found.
-Beasley admits to having some first game jitters, as to be expected when suiting up for the first time at Madison Square Garden, but the Heat need to do a better job of getting him shots in his comfort zones. He spent too much of the game hanging out at the three point line, which helps account for his 4 rebounds. It is difficult to get boards when you are hanging out on the perimeter all game. You could see Beasley's talent when he took it too the hoop, but too often he looked like he was lacking the drive/hunger that makes a player great in this league. He needs to attack the hoop with regularity which will open up the outside shot, instead of the other way around. I think Spoelestra needs to find a way to get Beasley playing from the high post and in, until he gets comfortable in the league.
-Dwayne Wade finished the night with 26 points, 9 assists, and 7 rebounds, but spent too much of the night complaining about not getting a call or not getting a ball when he wanted it. If he is going to be the leader of this team, he needs to show his young teammates a better example than the one that was on the court last night. For all the yelling that Michael Jordan did at referees and his own teammates, you never saw him out of position on defense. Too often Wade jogged back down the court complaining while the Knicks were playing 5 on 4. This criticism of Wade has been around for 3 seasons now, and it is about time that some coach figures out a way to get it figured out. Jamal Crawford had 29 points last night mostly by beating Wade up the court and taking advantage of the Heat scrambling around to cover up. At the end of the night, Wade will consistently fill the stat sheet, but if he is to lead the Heat back to the playoffs, he is going to need to start doing the little things that make the difference.
-Shawn Marion is a fantasy basketball dream come true, but in reality the guy should be nothing more than a 3rd or 4th option on a team. I think my 7 year old cousin could beat him in a shooting contest. His points come off of hustle plays, which is great, but to have him spotting up on the perimeter is a waste of a possession. He should be slashing to the hoop and playing the baseline only. How he ever got this far without learning how to shoot a jumpshot is mind boggling. On the positive side, he does help us a lot on the boards and he gets back on the defense all the time. His on ball defense leaves something to be desired, but so does everyone else on the teams.
-Daquan Cook is a very good shooter, who needs to play more. He spreads the floor nicely, which will help Wade and Beasley get to the hoop easier.
-Marcus Banks looked good going to the hoop, but he struggled shooting from outside. Hopefully his shooting in the preseason is more typical of what we will see this season. He is able to play the point or the shooting guard, which is something that will come in handy on this squad filled with mostly multi-position players.
-It was good to see Sean Livingston back, but he has a ways to go before he is in basketball shape. After such a horrific knee injury a few years back, it will be interesting to see if his body will ever catch up with his mind. It was a good gamble by the Heat to bring him in, and hopefully pays off before the season ends.
-Mark Blount is useless. He was in the game for less then 2 minutes when he hoists up a 3pointer. Someone needs to tell him he was the tallest guy on the court, so he should hang out under the hoop.
-The Heat struggled a lot last night, but there were still things to get excited about as a fan. My gut tells me that they are going to be a .500 team heading into the All Star Break, and then come out playing much better in the second half. Chalmers and Beasley will have great games just as often as they have bad games, but the key is to be patient with them. They both look like they will be starters for years to come, which will be amazing for the Heat. We have not had guys stick around since those Tim Hardaway squads that battled the Knicks in the 90's. If you notice around the NBA, most teams that win championships are teams that are built through the draft and are allowed to grow together. There is always the exception, last years Celtics, but the Heat should take a page out of the book of the Spurs and the Pistons. Let these guys grow up together, while adding complementary pieces around them. The core of this squad is Wade, Beasley, Chalmers, and the heart is Haslem. See ya Shawn Marion!