No Fly Zone: Stanley Johnson

The No Fly Zone, where the students tell the teacher to be quiet.

The playoffs bring out the best in most players, but apparently, they also bring out the dumbest in players. Pistons rookie Stanley Johnson recently told the media that he was  in the head of a Cavaliers player. That is fine, except that the player to whom he is referring is Lebron James.

On what planet or alternate reality do you think this is actually true? Do you know who Lebron has gone up against before? I’ll give you a hint: they are probably better than you. You’re lucky if Lebron even remembers your name kid. Let’s not forget that this is a 4-time MVP and 2-time champion. So you think that he is going to be flustered in the first round of the playoffs in a series that you will most definitely lose?

Rookies are known to make mistakes, but you kid, you take the cake on this one. You are already down 2-0 and have more than likely woken up a sleeping giant that will look to have a HUGE game in game 3. Better batten down those hatches dude, because I think you did the worst thing anyone can do, and that is make Lebron angry.

Game 2 Recap

If you thought Miami could not top their game 1 performance, then you were wrong! They just absolutely obliterated the Hornets defense all night, and it came, once again, from inside the paint. Miami was getting shots off from inside all night and took advantage of a Hornets squad that is scratching their heads right now.

Dwyane Wade showed just how good he still is with 28 points and 8 assists, which was huge for the Heat, especially in the second half, when the defenses tightened up a little bit. Whiteside chipped in with a double-double and the bench players really stepped up behind the rookies, Winslow and Richardson.

The big thing for the Heat was that they were able to counter Charlotte’s scoring outburst with their own. That was huge because I said before that Charlotte would look to come out and knock the Heat off balance. Miami absorbed the blow and was able to hit back pretty well with a 43-point second quarter.

My concern after this game was Miami’s defensive effort. They gave up way to many drives to the rim and let Kemba Walker get going, which is bad for any opponent. Charlotte also killed them on the glass 54-40. Luckily, the Hornets rarely capitalized on their rebounding margin. Al Jefferson also got going and was able to punish the Heat inside with a wide variety of post moves.

As the series heads to Charlotte for games 3 and 4, I expect the defense to turn up a bit more for both teams. My advice for Miami is to make it a priority to lock down on defense a get the ball out of Walker’s hands. Without Batum, who left the game with a sprained ankle (get well soon), Charlotte does not have another ball-handler, so that may be a disadvantage for the Hornets.

GO HEAT!

Game 2 Preview: Heat vs. Hornets

The Miami Heat played near perfect in game 1 of this series. They dominated inside and kept the Hornets from getting hot from outside. Game 2, however, may be different. Charlotte is a very good  basketball team and they did not play like it at all in game 1, so naturally, Miami took advantage. I highly doubt that there will be a repeat, but that does not mean that Miami still doesn’t have the momentum.

The keys to winning this game are as follows. First off, Charlotte is going to come out and really try to make a statement. Miami will have to weather the storm for the first couple of minutes and also come out with intense focus. This is a situation where getting the ball to Johnson and Wade to slow down the pace will benefit the Heat. Charlotte is going to want to get up and down the floor, but a slower pace might kill that early adrenaline rush.

Secondly, Miami must continue to pound the ball inside. There is no one on the Hornets that consistently stop drives to the rim by Dragic and Wade and then compete for position with Whiteside. The Heat need to win the rebound and paint point battle again.

The last thing they must do is not let up. Spoelstra already know that the team they saw in game 1 will not be the team they see tonight by any means. What that means is that the Heat will have to be ready sustain through the multiple runs the Hornets will stage in an attempt to steal a game in South Beach.

GO HEAT!

Top 5 Rebounders All-time

A great rebounder is capable of dominating the boards on both ends of the floor. Not just grabbing defensive rebounds, but also being able to keep possession alive on the offensive end of the floor. Not just their career averages, but the rate at which they did it.

5. Charles Barkley

  • Sir Charles was an absolute monster on the backboard. His nickname was “The Round Mound of Rebound”! What separated Barkley from other players was that he jumped side to side instead of up and down, which utilized his big size to clear out other players. For a shorter guy, he could grab rebounds with the best of them. He currently ranks 18th in career rebounds, but he is number five on this list because of his lack of height.

4. Moses Malone

  • Big Moses with his extremely deep voice that almost nobody could understand. He is currently the NBA’s all-time leader in offensive rebounds and is fifth all-time in career rebounds. He was one of the most physical rebound-grabbers in the NBA for a long time, especially on the offensive glass. What made him so good was his ability to physically wear down his opponents, which led to him grabbing offensive rebounds late in the game.

3. Bill Russell

  • The player with most most rings in NBA history is also the player that was the first to master the art of rebounding. He was the guy that made it pivotal to grab the ball with both hands, especially when he would battle with Wilt in the middle. He was the reason that the Celtics were so good because he closed out so many defensive possessions by cleaning the backboards. The guy once averaged 30 rebounds per game!

2. Wilt Chamberlain

  • Wilt “The Stilts” Chamberlain! The league’s all-time leader in rebounds and the record-holder for rebounds in a game with 55. Nobody has come close to that record since. With his massive size and wingspan, Wilt was able to dominate the backboard because of his freakishly long limbs. His ability to grab offensive rebounds at a high rate came from his great timing with his jumps and ability to grab the ball with one hand. Fantastic!

1. Dennis Rodman

  • Dennis Rodman was only around 6’7, but he rebounded like a 7-footer and did it against guys like Shaq, Hakeem, and The Admiral. I have never seen someone whose motor was so high and could read where the ball was coming off the rim as well as Rodman. His greatest attribute was his ability to jump multiple times in succession and then tip the ball to himself when battling larger opponents. He is the NBA record holder for leading the league in rebounds for 7 straight years.

Heat Recap: Game 1 vs. Hornets

If I could describe the way Miami played last night, I would have to use the word “Domination”. And that is exactly what it was flyers. Absolute domination! The Heat did almost everything right on their way to a 123-91 romping of the Hornets in game 1 of their playoff series. Luol Deng played perhaps one of the best games of his career with a 31-point outburst, including 4 three-pointers. Hassan Whiteside did not disappoint in his playoff debut with 21 points and 11 rebounds along with 3 blocks. He also had an impact by changing a good number of Charlotte shots in the paint.

Although they were not needed due to the 41-point first quarter, Wade and Johnson looked very good when they did get the ball. Wade dominated Courtney Lee and Jeremy Lin while Joe Johnson used his size to bully Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams. Miami got some great bench production led by Amar’e Stoudemire putting up 11 points and some flashback post moves from his days as an all-star.

The first quarter really set the tone as Miami just went crazy from everywhere on the court. They could not be stopped no matter what the Hornets did. I was also impressed with how the Heat came out in the second half. They had the same amount of focus as they did at the start of the game and did not let up. A much better result than what we saw in Boston. Now here are the 3 keys.

  1. Run them of the line: Charlotte was 6-17 from downtown, which tells me that they rushed a lot of shots due to the Heat fully closing out on shooters. Heat defenders had no fear of the Hornets driving, because every time they did, they ran into the Great Wall of Whiteside in the middle.
  2. Contain Kemba Walker: Walker had 19 points on 13 shots, which is not great for a player of his caliber. Miami was comfortable with giving him the mid-range jumper, which he made a few of. That is better than letting him get to the basket.
  3. Dominate inside: Miami won the rebounding battle (49-37) and had more paint points (56-36). Charlotte did win the free throw battle, but that is because the Heat’s interior defense was so physical and they went for a lot of blocks.

An overall fantastic performance from the Heat and a great way to start in this series. They have to get right back to work, though, and be prepared for game 2 because Charlotte will look to come out and knock them on their heels in hopes of stealing home-court advantage.

GO HEAT!

Game 1 Preview: Heat vs. Hornets

Your Miami Heat begin their playoff quest tonight when they begin their first round matchup with the Charlotte Hornets! In what is considered one of the best first round series in the playoffs, the Miami Heat will seek to win their first playoff series without LeBron James since the Heat won the title in 2006. The team this year has many playoff-tested veterans and home-court advantage, which gives the Heat a slight edge over Charlotte. On the other end, the Hornets have a boat load of young talent that can stretch the floor and knock down long-range shots. Coach Steve Clifford has a budding star in Kemba Walker and a veteran presence in Al Jefferson, which should give Miami some issues.

Here are 3 keys to the Heat winning.

  1. Run them off the three-point line: The Hornets thrive on guys like Walker getting into the line and then kicking it out to shooters. The Heat will have to make sure they know where players like Marvin Williams, Nicolas Batum, and Courtney Lee are at all times and then make them drive and finish in the paint.
  2. Contain Kemba Walker: If you want to stop the Hornets, then you have to at least slow down Kemba Walker. He is a stud when it comes to driving the lane and does a great job of staying low to the ground when dribbling. If the Heat can keep him outside, the Hornets will have problems.
  3. Dominate inside: The Hornets are built to attack from outside, while the Heat are built to pound the ball into the paint. All of their players have to be in attack mode and forget about shooting from outside. The Heat need to have more paint points, free throws, and rebound because that is where they have an advantage over Charlotte.

Miami, at some point needs to call an isolation for either Joe Johnson or Dwyane Wade and get them the ball on the elbow, baseline, or in the post. The playoffs are a slower game and these two are at the age now where their games are geared towards playing slower. The Hornets don’t have anyone strong enough to hang with either of them, so again, the Heat need to take advantage.

NBA Update

So, in an effort to maintain my sanity and not get shut down, I am not going to discuss the atrocity in Boston that I had the misfortune of viewing. Long story short, the Miami Heat did not deserve thee number three seed and if they play like they did in the second half, they will be swept by the Charlotte Hornets without a doubt. But on a lighter note, they do open up at home as the number three seed on Sunday and hopefully they will play like they did in the first half of last night’s game, which was damn near perfect.

In other news, the Warrior broke the record for wins in a season after notching their 73rd win this season and breaking the record previously held by the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls. They are a remarkable team and deserve to own this record with the way they dominated opponents this season. With that said, they are in no way a team that could beat those Bulls in a 7-game series, but I am going to give them their due credit nonetheless.

Also, Kobe went out WITH A BANG OH MY LORD. I have never heard of someone going out like that. 60 POINTS?!!?!?!?! My man showed that despite his physical age, he is still more skilled than a majority of the players in the game today. Granted, he did take around 50 shots. But I don’t care. As old as he is, he was still the best player on the Lakers this past year. I’ll have a piece on him in the near future, but what a way to go out. It reminds me a lot of Jordan’s last game as a Chicago Bull when he dropped 45 on none other than the Utah Jazz (those guys are unlucky when playing against a legend in their last game). Congratulations again Kobe!