From Chris Tomasson at Fox Sports Florida after Miami’s Friday night loss to the Nuggets:
One problem, Boshness. You’re not.
I had held the same belief as Bosh right up until Friday night. There are certainly qualifiers. The Heat played a brutal three-games-in-four-nights set. Overtime in Golden State, then a back-to-back against the Clippers in Los Angeles, a day off and then playing in Denver’s altitude. Dwyane Wade suffered a sprained ankle and had already been dealing with other injuries. But these excuses don’t change the real make up of the game, which was that Denver, a phenomenal team in its own right, simply out-executed the Heat all game long.
Gone is the improved offensive flow we saw in the first week of the season. Gone are the defensive rotations predicting where the ball would go and cutting off angles. Gone is the energy, gone are the highlights, gone are the league’s best record.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Bulls absolutely plastered the Boston Celtics on their home floor Friday night. Much will be made of the Celtics’ comeback but in reality, the Bulls got complacent, the Celtics caught up for a minute… and then the Bulls ran them out of the building again, behind Derrick Rose’s brilliance. The Bulls have had the most dominating performance of the season since an opening week set of struggles. This doesn’t mean that over the long run of the season, the Heat won’t prove to be better. This certainly doesn’t mean that the Bulls will best the Heat in the playoffs.
But as for right now, the Heat aren’t the best team in the league. Not even close.
Chris Paul broke his finger Saturday.
The initial diagnosis said the injury wasn’t serious.
Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times:
Paul obviously wouldn’t push it during the preseason. If the Clippers are allowing him to play, this can’t be bad.
Really, the most challenging aspect to this is grasping the concept that a broke finger can be a minor injury.
Brad Stevens has a big challenge this year – sorting the Celtics’ deep roster of similarly able players.
It seems that process is shaking out at power forward and center.
A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:
it appears Boston’s first four bigs will be starters David Lee and Tyler Zeller, with Amir Johnson and Kelly Olynyk off the bench.
That leaves Jonas Jerebko and Jared Sullinger, potentially on the outside looking in as far as the regular rotation is concerned.
Lee is the best passer of the bunch, which could partially explain why he’s starting. Boston’s most likely starting point guard, Marcus Smart, is still growing into the role of the lead ball-handler at the NBA level. Lee and presumptive starting shooting guard Avery Bradley can take some pressure off him.
Olynyk can space the floor for Isaiah Thomas-Johnson pick-and-rolls with the reserves and run pick-and-pops with Thomas himself.
I’m a little surprised Zeller is starting over Johnson, though. The Celtics just signed Johnson to a $12 million salary, and I thought they’d rely on his defense to set a tone early. Like Johnson, Zeller is a quality pick-and-roll finisher who can thrive with Thomas.
This is particularly bad news for Sullinger, who – barring a surprising contract extension – is entering a contract year. It seems those reports of offseason conditioning haven’t yet paid off. Jerebko’s deal also isn’t guaranteed beyond this season, but at least he has already gotten his mid-sized payday. Sullinger is still on his rookie-scale contract.