So...that wasn't fun.
The Mavericks game was somewhat understandable. Despite the extended rest, the Mavericks are a pretty damn good team and always play with a chip on their shoulder against Miami, and always will. But God Sunday night was ugly.
The Heat were never in that game. I don't need to tell you that. The Memphis Grizzlies controlled the tempo from the get-go, as Rudy Gay notched a 40-point game and Marc Gasol looked like his brother. I don't even know what to say about it. But when I find myself in times of trouble, Dean Oliver
's Four Factors to Winning at Basketball
comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be:
Clearly, shooting percentage didn't work for Miami. Rudy Gay likes a high-percentage shot, and when he scores 41, that's gonna be high. But the offensive rebound percentage killed Miami, and that shows a lack of defensive execution. And it isn't a one-game problem.
Despite winning two of the games, Miami has given up 100 points in their last six games. This from a team that only gave up a century twice in its first nine games. In fact, ever since the defensive stalemate that was Miami/New Jersey, the Heat have given up 100 points in 10 out of 13 games. It very simply explains Miami's tumble since the middle of November. A team that looked poised to become a serious No. 4 contender in the conference can quite easily see the fifth, sixth and seventh place teams very close in their rear-view mirror.
Miami plays Toronto tomorrow, followed by Orlando Thursday. If the defense does not tighten up, you can mark down two losses right now, plain and simple. The scoring options outside of Dwayne Wade are not developed, and defense is how this team will win games going forward.
In some blog-related news, you may have noticed my absence last week. My life has been kind-of messy as of late, as the pursuit of a condominium has been a story unto itself. Fortunately, it looks like my deal will be done next week, and some stability will come with that. Plus, I've been working on some behind-closed-doors offline stuff, and have an announcement to make.
That's right, ladies and germs, we've got a new voice around here. His name is Jacob Fleming. He's not really a new voice, per se; he's been commenting under the handle "Jake" for a couple of weeks. But he has a bit of blogging in his background, and he knows him some Heat. He'll be dipping his toe in with the Through the Net (and finally make that a more regular feature which I haven't been able to do alone). It's something I've been looking for ever since I started last June, and it's finally come to fruition. It'll make everyone's Hot Hot Hoops experience that much better, and isn't that the true meaning of Christmas after all?
By the way, expect a third person to come aboard sometime in the near future, finally completing my writing triumvirate. Enough self-promotion and indulgence; here's some not-so-fun numbers from last night.