Jeremy Lin has stood up pretty tall to every test he’s faced the past few weeks — the Knicks haven’t won every game, but he’s not wilted in the spotlight.
However, the Miami Heat’s defensive energy and athleticism on the perimeter is a whole different ballgame. And Lin is going to get all of it on Thursday when the Heat host the Knicks. Here is what LeBron James said, via the twitter of ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh:
“I know I’m going to end up guarding Lin at some point.”
So is Dwyane Wade. The Heat are very aggressive on the perimeter, pressuring the ball, jumping passing lanes, trying to create turnovers so they can get out and run (where Wade and LeBron are unstoppable). That energy is why the Heat have won seven in a row by at least 12 points.
“I never watch Harvard basketball. I never watch Harvard.’’
LeBron said he doesn’t subscribe to the Ivy League Network. But said did watch Jeremy Lin the summer league game in 2010 against John Wall… LeBron says celebrate Lin more as a just good player and not dwell on Asian-American aspect: “I think it’s taken away from it, obviously.”
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The Knicks have the offensive tools to make the Heat pay for their aggressive play, but with Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, J.R. Smith and Lin still trying to get used to each other they may not have the execution to exploit it yet.
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“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.
“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”
That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.
I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?
It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.