At some point, the Miami Heat are going to have to consistently beat very good teams to reach their goal.
That point is in May. Nearly six months from now.
Right now, the Heat’s much publicized 3-7 record against teams over .500 is pretty meaningless as a predictor of future success. The Heat team that takes the floor in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs will feel different than the one than takes the court Monday night in Milwaukee.
As Tom Ziller points out at SB Nation the Heat’s struggles are not uncommon. Right now the Lakers are 11-2 against teams under .500 and 2-4 against “good” teams over that threshold. Do you question if they will be good in the playoffs? Ziller then goes on to point out every team has a worse record against the good teams than the bad ones. Which is logical, it’s harder for everyone to beat good teams.
What has been the best statistical predictor of playoff success is point differential per possession — how much do you outscore your opponent by. It’s not perfect, but it is more accurate a predictive tool than anything else out there.
And the Heat have outscored their opponents by an average of 8.9 points per 100 possessions. Who is better than that? Boston (9.6), the Spurs (9.5) and the Lakers (9.4). Nobody else. That is pretty elite company.
And as Tom Haberstroh points out at ESPN, each of those teams brings back its core of the last few years. Those teams have their identities, their patterns for success that the Heat are just trying to figure out. It was never going to be simple to blend LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh together (especially with key players like Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem injured).
You don’t have to like it, but the fact is the Heat are elite. You can pick apart their record however you wish, but notice that the key indicators are all good and this team seems to be picking up confidence. They are very good now. They will be elite come May.
Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.
The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.
The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.
Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.
Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.
Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.
“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”
The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.
Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.
LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.
Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?
Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.
LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.
To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.
It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.
With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.
There were a couple of good ones, however.
Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.
One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.