The Miami Heat have been pretty good recently. They’re 30-9, they’ve lost one game since November 27th, they have two of the top three players in PER, they’re a top-three team in both offensive and defensive efficiency, and they are winning games by an average of 9.5 points a night. Oh, and they’re a few games away from a consecutive road wins record. That looks like greatness to me, but apparently Heat coach Erik Spoelstra disagrees. Here’s what Spoelstra had to say about his team during an appearance on The Ticket 790 with Jorge Sedano earlier today:
“I don’t think we all know exactly what [greatness] is. I do know what we say is greatness is consistency. We have proven that we can be great, we can be great on the defensive end of the floor, but we have not shown greatness yet. We do not do it on a possession or every single minute of the game mentality yet. We’re moving in that direction and I think our guys understand that this isn’t where we want to stop. To play really at the elite level, and we’re talking seven game series, we need to be more consistent with that and that’s what we’re striving for and working for every single day.”
There are certainly things the Heat can improve on. The team’s offense is getting more fluid by the game, but LeBron and Wade are still figuring out how to be effective without the ball when the other one is operating off the dribble. The team’s fourth and fifth best players are injured and trying to work his way back into the rotation after recovering from an injury. The team does settle for jumpers from time to time, and occasionally gives teams easy baskets before tightening the screws defensively and really locking in on that end.
And of course, LeBron and Bosh still haven’t won a single playoff game in a Heat jersey, and everyone knows this team’s goal isn’t regular-season success. Still, the Heat are the best team in basketball right now, they’re on an absolute rampage through the league, they’re seemingly getting better every game, and their coach says they’re still scratching the surface of what they’re capable of. Lord only knows what the Heat will look like when they’re playing at a high enough level to satisfy their coach.
During the 2014-15 season, Rockets star James Harden said the Warriors “ain’t even that good.”
Golden State went on to reach the last three NBA Finals, twice beating Houston in the playoffs, and win two championships.
The Rockets have since re-tooled around Harden, Chris Paul and several quality role players and are in first place. Houston looks like the biggest threat to the Warriors in the Western Conference.
Rockets center Clint Capela on the Warriors, via Dave Schilling of Bleacher Report:
“I expect to beat them,” Capela says.
That’s a fine sentiment. Saying it publicly is another matter. Not even Harden did that a couple years ago. He was recorded during a pregame team huddle.
There’s a fine line between self-fulfilling confidence and providing bulletin-board material to the opponent. There’s already some animosity between the teams stemming from the Stephen Curry-Harden MVP race in 2015, and it has bubbled since. No matter how harmless Capela’s remark might have been intended to be, it’ll be met contentiously in the Bay Area.
Oklahoma City traded for Victor Oladipo out of Orlando to be their third scorer, behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. It didn’t exactly work out that way, Durant bolted town and when Westbrook went off Oladipo was looking for a place to fit in.
That place turned out to be the Pacers.
Oladipo has been playing like an All-Star this season with Indiana, and last week he was key in snapping Cleveland’s 13 game win streak, then turned around and dropped 47 points on Denver. For the week he averaged 35.7 points a game, shot 45.7 percent from three, plus grabbed 7.7 rebounds per game.
That will get you named the PBT Extra Player of the Week.
Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.
Pacers fans delivered.
They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.
Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.
The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.
“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”
Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.