This is the 2nd Western Conference trip this year, with the Heat going a very pleasing 2-2 (3-1 if not for Kobe Bryant) on the first trip. Going into tonight, the Heat sit 2-2 with Houston and Oklahoma City up next. I don't like the Heat's chances in either one of these games. Houston is tough defensively, I can imagine Ariza and Battier giving Wade and Beasley trouble. I thought Houston would be one of the worst teams in the West this year, but I couldn't have been more wrong. They play terrific defense, and play hard every single night. I know that may not sound like much, but if you play hard in that league, you have an advantage in a ton of games in the NBA.
Oklahoma City put a beat down on the Heat in Miami early this year. When I look at Kevin Durant, I can't help but wonder what the Blazers would look like right now if they had drafted Durant over Oden. I'm tempted to say they'd be a contender to win the West. On a side note, I was down with the Oden pick. I always go for the big guy.
So, while I think the Heat are staring at a 2-4 road trip, this team has shown throughout the entire season that you have no idea which team will show up, Jeckyll or Hyde.
Over the next month, you could see a flurry of "money" deals in the NBA. You know what I'm talking about. You have a bunch of teams in serious financial trouble, and they'll be looking to shed big contracts (with no intention of signing a big time free agent in 2010)
A few teams who could be dealing:
Philadelphia: Andre Igoudala is a mortal lock to be traded before the deadline. Sam Dalembert will probably be packaged with him.
Toronto: Chris Bosh is being mentioned, but I have a very hard time believing he is moved while the Raptors are in the playoff race.
Detroit: Joe Dumars kind of stinks as a GM, huh? That dude got so much praise back in 2004. As the great Tony Montana would say, "LOOK AT YOU NOW!!!!"
If he were smart, he'd move Richard Hamilton.
Washington: Obviously, everyone is available. But this one is interesting. If they can void the Arenas contract, it's possible they don't move anyone. Caron Butler has shown he's pretty good with Arenas out of the lineup.
New Orleans: They'd love to save some loot of moving Stojakovic, but they'll get some takers for David West. Kind of stinks to be a Hornets fan.
Minnesota: This one is interesting. They're apparently trying to Al Jefferson because he doesn't fit along side Kevin Love. That's fine, but they better not give him away. You can't lose the centerpiece of that Garnett deal for chump change.
Now, who would the Heat be interested in?? None of these guys. The Heat clearly have their sights set on LeBron and I back this strategy. Go for the juggernaut. After all, I've always believed in the idea that this team can attract free agents. Even if it's not LeBron, they'll land a couple good guys.