Hours before Miami stepped on the court to play for their fourth straight Eastern Conference finals trip, coach Erik Spoelstra arrived to the podium for his requisite pregame exchange with the assembled media.
Then came the sound that coaches love to hear from journos and bloggers, but rarely do: silence. A few soundless seconds after sitting down, Spo left the podium a giddy man. If Gregg Popovich could get the same treatment, that would make him happy.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — When the Miami Heat visited the White House last week, they apparently managed to squeeze in some time to film a video for the White House’s Let’s Move campaign, along with First Lady Michelle Obama. Whoever put this thing together obviously did their homework, because they managed to hit a couple of memes — not only do we see Chris Bosh delivering a signature photobomb, but the First Lady teams up with LeBron James to posterizeDwyane Wade as he’s giving an interview to Erik Spoelstra. Even with all that, my favorite moment of the video might be at the very end, when everyone is sitting around just eating apples.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — It seems like a lifetime ago, but it was actually just over five years ago that there was a very real debate about who should be the first pick in the 2007 NBA Draft: Kevin Durant or Greg Oden. As it turned out, Oden went first, Durant went second, and nothing has ever been the same since. Durant, obviously, turned into an all-world player, while Oden has struggled mightily with injuries.
The thought with Oden has always been if he could only get healthy and stay healthy, he was such a good player in college that he should still be able to have a productive NBA career. After all, he’s still only 25 years old, and reports the last few months have suggested that Oden was getting healthy enough to consider another comeback. The only question was, With which team would that comeback take place?
According to an ESPN.com report, Oden worked out in Indianapolis yesterday for several teams, including New Orleans, Miami and Sacramento. He also has a few other workouts scheduled for today.
But which team has the inside track on signing Oden? We might have the answer to that question, thanks to a user on Reddit.
Late yesterday afternoon, someone posted two photos on Reddit with one caption, “Look who I met today at a Chili’s In Indy.” And in the photos? Greg Oden and Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.
While we have to wait and see where Oden ends up, this photo could mean one of two things:
1. After Oden’s workout, Oden and the Heat got together to discuss the opportunities for Oden should he sign with the Heat.
2. There was a Chili’s close to where Oden worked out and anyone near that part of town eats there because people want their baby back, baby back, baby back ribs. (Barbecue sauce *low voice*) -
As we’ve explored NBA style this postseason, we’ve focused mainly on the players. Which means we’ve looked past some of the NBA’s most fashionable — well, occasionally — people: NBA coaches. Some coaches make an obvious effort — we always appreciate Scott Brooks‘ tie game in Oklahoma City — yet there are also coaches who dress as though style is totally unimportant (and here we will avoid naming names in order to preserve friendships).
The Miami Heat have had six head coaches in their 25 year history, but their last two coaches are two of the most fashionable in recent NBA memory. Pat Riley, coach from 2005-2008 and currently team president, became known for his slicked-back hair and Armani suits while presiding over Showtime in Los Angeles and later with the Knicks in New York City. Meanwhile, current coach Erik Spoelstra is always well-tailored, frequently wearing dark suits and fashionable skinny ties.
Our question to you is, which coach wins style match-up, Pat Riley or Erik Spoelstra? Vote in the poll at the bottom, and don’t forget to continue the conversation on Twitter using #NBAStyle.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER – I have been on the job here at the All Ball Blog since the playoffs started, and somehow we have not had a true Horry Scale-worthy shot in the postseason. There have been a few close calls, sure, but no true buzzer-beating game-winners. That is, until last night, when LeBron James scored a bucket at the buzzer to give the Miami Heat a 103-102 OT win over the Indiana Pacers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. -
For those of you who are new around these parts, like myself, The Horry Scale examines a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time?), importance (playoff game or garden-variety Kings-Pistons game?) and celebration (was it over the top or too chill? Just the right panache or did it need more sauce?). Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, the patron saint of last-second daggers.
How does King James rate? Break down!
Actually, the shot itself wasn’t all that difficult. It was a layup. Lefty, sure, but still, it was a layup. And basically a wide-open layup, at that. Could the shot have been more difficult? For sure. (For instance, it could have been a jumper, open or contested.) But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t difficulty involved in the play, because the real difficulty was drawing up a play to get LeBron so wide open. Watching the play again, Erik Spoelstra initially used LeBron as a decoy, pretending to a set a screen for a cutting Ray Allen, and then ‘Bron spun and flashed to the ball, received the pass, turned and basically just sprinted right by his defender, Paul George. All that early movement had the Heat players running to corners, leaving the middle of the floor wide open, not only of Heat players but also Indiana defenders.
This brings up another way that this play could have been more difficult: If big Roy Hibbert had been in the game guarding the paint for the Pacers. Hibbert averaged 2.6 blocks this season for Indiana, and he had two Wednesday. Indiana coach Frank Vogel removed Hibbert on defense a few times down the stretch, because he didn’t want Hibbert to get stuck on a switch against a smaller player, or have to go out and guard Chris Bosh on the perimeter. And maybe this is just me, but if it were up to me, I’d rather lose on a long jumper from Bosh than a layup by LeBron.
What do you think, Roy, want to second-guess what would have happened if you’d been out there on the play?
The stakes were pretty high, as far as the Heat were concerned: Overtime. Dwyane Wade? Fouled out. Timeouts remaining? None. Heat? Down one. Two-point-two seconds on the clock. Doesn’t get much more tense than that.
It wasn’t the NBA Finals, but being in the playoffs, in the Conference finals, it was as close as you can get without actually getting there. And it wasn’t an elimination game, but other than all that, it doesn’t get much more important.
Whoever was directing this game for TNT did one of my favorite things, where as soon as the shot dropped, they switched to a camera way up at the top of the stadium so we could see the arena explode as the home team stole the win at the buzzer. It’s hard to see in the video above, but LeBron basically did the “stoic” celebration — staying calm, like he’s been in that situation before. My favorite celebration might have been the one from Dwyane Wade on the bench, who jumped about four feet into the air. Sore knee? Who me?
4 Horrys. I may be more lenient than previous teachers you guys have had here, but for me, LeBron’s game-winner ticked all the boxes. The only thing keeping it from being a Five Horry shot for me was that it was a layup. But then, that was due as much to LeBron’s insane athletic ability as it was to anything else. Also, I can’t come right out of the gate awarding Five Horrys to people. So there are still heights waiting to be reached.
Ooooooh, boy. There’s a lot to parse from this tweet by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst after the Heat fell 87-86 to the Bulls on Sunday. For starters:
— Heat coach Erik Spoelstra isn’t particularly known for playing head games with his players. Admitting to the public that members of his team are in tears feels like more of a Phil Jackson move.
— Who was crying? The pressure on the Heat is really only felt by three players — the rest are just along for the ride. Just sayin’.
There is a tendency amongst us all to view everything through the prism of immediacy, especially as sports fans. When the Heat started 9-8, I was amongst the chorus who quickly judged the Heat to be inferior. Then, when they reeled off a 21-1 stretch, I felt silly for having written them off so quickly. But hey, that’s how we are as fans.
Players, generally speaking, don’t necessarily react this way, or at least the players on the top-level teams. They know the game is a grind, and tomorrow is another day, and all those sports cliches they feed us. They have to keep a level head, because emotion often interrupts execution.
Which is why the mood in the Miami locker room after today’s last-minute defeat at the hands of the Bulls is a little surprising. Yes, the Heat are flailing, having dropped four straight. Yes, the Heat have struggled against the best teams in the league all season (they are now 1-9 against the top 3 seeds in each conference). But this is still a team with two of the best three or four players on the planet — if this slide is too much for them to handle, the playoffs could be a short and bumpy ride…
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What a perfect day for Heat hate, coming off Miami’s home loss to the Jazz in overtime Tuesday night. One fascinating subplot to the Heat’s season so far has been the over-analysis of every loss, dissecting the team’s performance for clues about how it will affect the Big Picture.
One thread that seems to be congealing into a narrative is the play of Chris Bosh — specifically, whether he is deserving of being a part of a Big Three, and whether or not he has the intestinal fortitude to withstand the onslaught of negativity heaped on him from the outside world.
By Christmas, if he hasn’t drastically changed his approach and production, Pat Riley will surely explore every option to move Bosh and acquire a goon.
If I’m Pat Riley, I watch the next two games very closely. If things go poorly for Bosh, I bring Dwyane Wade into my office and question him about how upset he and LeBron will be if the “Big Three” undergoes an official name change.
The “Big Two” makes the most sense.
Now that is some Grade-A hatin’. Bosh has played all of eight games in Miami, and Whitlock is already ready to cut bait.
This notion that either James or Wade can handle those duties and all you need is a warm body to put in the starting lineup at point guard is faulty logic, especially after watching Deron Williams shred the Heat the way he did last night (following the lead of fellow elite point guards Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul in their dismantling of the Heat in the only other losses Erik Spoelstra‘s team has incurred this season).
The math doesn’t match up either:
– In that season-opening loss to the Celtics, Rondo scored just four points and had two steals but controlled the game with his defense and 17 assists while Heat starter Carlos Arroyo managed just three points and didn’t have a single assist (compounded by 14 turnovers from James and Wade).
– When the Hornets ambushed the Heat over the weekend, Paul destroyed them with 13 points, 19 assists and five steals while Arroyo went scoreless and managed just one assist, with Wade and James putting together another double-digit (10) turnover performance.
– Williams abused them for 21 points and 14 assists last night before fouling out late in regulation, with Arroyo fighting back with 10 points and two assists while James (triple-double) and Wade (season-high 39 points) kept their turnovers to a minimum (just four), but the result was the same.
For those math-challenged members of our little club, that’s a healthy 38-10 scoring advantage for the opposing starter at point guard in those losses and a staggering 50-3 assist advantage for the opposing starter.
Miami’s issues in the paint and at the point are what threaten to derail their championship aspirations, but as long as Bosh is aligned as part of a superstar triumvirate with Wade and James, he’s going to hear it any time things go south on South Beach.
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