The real test for the Miami Heat is coming.
No, not Tuesday night, they will destroy the Sixers in that game.
We’re talking next weekend, when they will take on Boston in round two. Or the conference semi-finals. Or when the playoffs really get serious. Whatever you want to call it.
There are going to be close games. Hard fought games. And at the end when everything hinges on one key shot…
Boston may have a big advantage. Look at the numbers from ESPN’s Stats team, via TrueHoop, as they walk you through the end of Game 4 Sunday.
Then after the 76ers took a two point lead it was LeBron James’ turn. James was the only Heat player who had played well offensively in the fourth making four of his seven field goal attempts up to that point and scoring 12 of the teams 16 points.
But just like the regular season James continued to struggle in this situation. Including regular season games he is now just 1-for-8 on field goal attempts with 10 seconds or less remaining in games when the Heat were tied or down by three-points or less.
In fact the Heat as a team are now just 1-for-19 from the field in the final 10 seconds when tied or trailing by three or fewer including both regular season and postseason games. That is the worst field goal percentage of any team in the NBA this season.
Yes, that is a rather arbitrary statistic and we could dig up one that says the Heat do make big plays at the end of games by widening the parameters. Yes, this is an example of small sample size theater. Yes, what really matters is that the Heat blow teams out most of the time so the end of game shots are sort of moot.
But it’s something to watch, because in a close playoff game Sunday I saw the 76ers outplay the Heat late. And it makes you wonder. What happens with a physical and stingy Celtics defense on them, how will the Heat react in the pressure of the playoffs? We don’t know. But these numbers may be a clue, and we know the Celtics can execute at the end of games.
Billy Donovan was given the head coaching job in Oklahoma City to bring their offense into modern times — and it seems to be working, Russell Westbrook said he feels a lot more space in the system.
But if the Thunder are going to contend for a title, they need a top 10 defense as well — and to do that Donovan is going to keep a Scott Brooks move and continue to start Andre Roberson and Steven Adams. Check out the starting lineup for their first preseason game Wednesday.
There also was this report via Anthony Slater in the Oklahoman yesterday about a scrimmage at practice.
Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Andre Roberson all started for the White team. Nick Collison joined them, but that was only because Steven Adams sat out with back soreness….
Donovan said the teams weren’t split by accident. That’s how they’ve been divided in practice. So at this point, it seems Roberson is this team’s starting shooting guard and Adams is the team’s starting center.
This is the smart move. Last season the lineup of Westbrook, Roberson, Durant, Ibaka and Adams was +13.4 points per 100 possessions over their opponents. Roberson and Adams are there for defense — neither brings much offensive game to the floor, but when you have Westbrook and Durant and only one ball between them, you don’t need more offensive threats. You’re going to get plenty of points.
If they can just stay healthy, Oklahoma City is a team to be feared.
The Hall of Fame player behind the original iron man streak is with us no more.
Knicks’ legend Harry Gallatin passes away at age 88, the team confirmed Wednesday.
Gallatin led the Knicks of the late 1940s and into the 1950s, when he set a then record playing in 610 consecutive games. Nicknamed “The Horse,” he was a beast on the boards who averaged 15.3 rebounds a game one season and averaged 11.9 boards and 13 points per game over the course of his 10-year career. He’s still fourth all time in total rebounds in Knicks franchise history.
Gallatin was a seven-time All-Star and twice All-NBA selection. After his playing days, he spent many years as the athletic director at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends.