Desperate Houseflies: The Magazine

Feel free to pull out your trusty fly swatter and comment on what is posted here, realizing that this odd collection of writers may prove as difficult to kill as houseflies and are presumably just as pesky. “Desperate Houseflies” is a magazine that intends to publish weekly articles on subjects such as politics, literature, history, sports, photography, religion, and no telling what else. We’ll see what happens.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Heat is Off

If I could claim a sport as my own, it would have to be basketball. So after suffering through last night’s Game 1 of the NBA Finals, I’ve got to make some comments.

Sports Illustrated gives the series edge to Dallas. They published this pretty little chart which says that Dirk and Jason Terry are superior at their positions, Shaq and Dwyane Wade are superior at theirs, and that the Antoine Walker / Adrian Griffin match-up is a wash. With a deeper bench and home court, SI gives the nod to Dallas. That all makes for a pretty page in a magazine, but that’s not the way basketball works.

And I should preface my comments with the fact that I am pulling for Miami. As an SEC sort of guy, the fact the four of the five Miami starters are from SEC schools makes me a bit biased toward the Heat, and when you add the fact that the fifth starter (Wade) is one of the most electrifying players in the league, I really like their starting lineup. Though I have nothing against Dallas, except the one thing that really tilts me toward Miami, and that is that I do not want to even imagine what will happen if Mark Cuban wins a title. Let me get back to basketball before I get nauseous.

Simply put, Jason Terry was amazing last night. In addition to exhibiting self-control in not punching anyone where the sun don’t shine (like he did in San Antonio), he played an amazing game from start to finish. I was very impressed.

On the other hand, Miami stunk.

Oh, for the biggest part of the first quarter, they looked awesome. Williams and Wade driving to the hoop as the playmakers they are supposed to be. Haslem and Walker were hitting the boards and knocking down the open jump shots as NBA forwards should, and Shaq was there as a mountainous distraction on the offensive end and a rebounding force on the defensive end. Then, it all went to pot.

It all began when Riley screwed up a good thing with substitutions. I’ve never understood that. When you are hitting on all cylinders, why would you mess with it? You don’t do that in football (Peyton Manning is on fire today, so let’s sit his butt down and let the backup quarterback throw a few). You don’t do that in baseball (Clemens has a no-hitter going through four – let’s go to the pen). I know Shaq needs about eight beach towels every once in a while and a few gallons of water to deal with all that sweat, but Zo only played five minutes last night. It was the refusal to hammer the Mavs with what they couldn’t stop in the first quarter that shifted the momentum of the entire game.

I could just complain. Gary Payton played like basketball was a new sport to him. Dwyane Wade was actually lazy in between highlight reel plays. Shaq’s free throw performance looked like a preschooler.

But the bottom line is that Riley didn’t do anything noteworthy after the first quarter when things went south.

DEFENSE: The Heat held the Mavs to 90 points, which may seem like an accomplishment, and yet the Mavs never had to adjust to anything! The Heat have a tremendous advantage on the interior, and instead of playing to their strength, they allowed the Dallas perimeter game to function all night, scoring 60 of their 90 points outside the paint. The Mavericks never had to adjust to anything, scoring equally in every quarter, and from the same places, and this was mostly because there was no intensity on the Heat’s defensive end. Wade had a couple of spectacular blocks and steals, but outside of that, he was lazy.

OFFENSE: But the Heat defense was exemplary compared to their incompetent offense. Regardless of SI’s handy comparison chart, the Heat should murder the Mavs on the offensive end. There is absolutely no reason they shouldn’t. They have no answer to Shaq. He is too huge to stop, and when double-teamed, he is one of the best passers in the game. This is not rocket science. Send the ball in to the big fella every stinking time. Haslem & Walker & Wade & Williams can all cut to the basket and finish. They can all knock down the open jumpers all night long. Absolutely no answer. (Unless, that is, you put in Gary Payton who can neither shoot nor finish.) The Heat scored 31 points in the first quarter when they were sticking with their obvious offensive strategy that should win the series for them. They scored 49 points the rest of the entire game when they didn’t (including a whopping 13 in the 2nd quarter and 12 in the critical 4th quarter).

So if Pat Riley’s listening, and I’m sure he is, all is not lost. A few simple things and Miami will win as they should:

#1: Ride your team’s butts on the defensive end (take a lesson from Avery). Chew Wade out when he’s lazy in defensive transition. Ask them to possibly play defense like they might want to win. Have Haslem make Dirk drive, where he will have to run into Shaq/Zo and a sneaky Dwyane Wade. Make everyone drive. You have the advantage in the paint. They have the advantage on the perimeter. Just play to your advantage!

#2: Pound the ball inside and have your starters ready to spot up and/or cut to the basket. Once again, not rocket science. Do this. Rinse and repeat.

#3: Only play Gary Payton to make a point about defensive intensity. Then sit his butt down before he shoots.

#4: And finally, might someone suggest to Shaq to use his legs when he shoots a free throw? Sheesh! Require him to use his legs when he shoots. I know you hate to mess up his 0-8 rhythm, but I say it’s worth a shot anyway!

Okay, now I’m ready for Game 2.


Blogger juvenal_urbino said...

Excellent analysis, Big Al (sez I, rank amateur). Good thing for me you're not coaching Miami.

For some reason, I just can't bring myself to root for the Heat. I suppose it's partly because they don't have a single player I'm inclined to root for, SEC or not. Partly it's because they seem -- have always, as a franchise, seemed -- thuggish.

I'm not a big Dallas fan, either, though. Partly just because they're from Dallas, one of my least favorite cities. Partly because they don't really have any players I'm inclined to root for, either. I was rooting for Phoenix and Detroit.

OTOH, I like Avery "Squeaky" Johnson a lot, and would much prefer to see him win this championship than Pat Riley. So I'm rooting for the Mavs.

As for Mark Cuban, I get a kick out of him. He's a real fan. He lives and dies with his team; they're not just an entry on his profit-and-loss statement. I think he's good for the NBA.

12:37 PM  
Blogger Terry Austin said...

I really like Dwayne Wade.

And Dirk Nowitzki.

And Mark Cuban, for the most part.

I'm no fan of Shaq or Avery Johnson or Pat Reilly.

But what does all of this have to do with abortion?

1:17 PM  
Blogger Al Sturgeon said...

I like Avery.

And I like that Shaq, though arrogant, is a fun-loving sort of arrogant that is approachable instead of a stay-away-from-me jerk.

I don't have feelings one way or the other for Pat Riley. I'm glad Texas Western beat him when he played for Kentucky.

And my disdain for Cuban is more from my own psychological problems (as opposed to his obvious ones). As a lifelong sports fan (me), Cuban strikes me as this spoiled kid who liked Star Wars, but since he has a lot of money, thought he'd buy something that you would have died to have just for the fun of it. I guess what you call this is the sin of envy. I'll work on it.

And I like Dirk.

But what this has to do with abortion is that Hauerwas is from Texas, and since Dallas is in the Finals, it provides a connection that makes the game blogworthy.

1:53 PM  
Blogger juvenal_urbino said...

Cuban doesn't come from a wealthy family, though, does he? I thought he made his money via a technology or dotcom company he started, or something like that.

4:10 PM  
Blogger Al Sturgeon said...

I think you're right. But his personality strikes me as being like a spoiled kid anyway.

Speaking of sports, went to a minor league game in Mobile last night, and actually going to play golf this morning. I'm on a roll!

4:59 AM  
Blogger juvenal_urbino said...

I don't think the Heat got the memo, Al.

3:28 PM  
Blogger Al Sturgeon said...

I didn't get to see any of the game, but it sounded like it was much worse than the first. Oh well. Get ready to see Cuban in a Speedo!

Actually, in the NBA, there's still time. But the Heat had better win Game 3.

7:45 PM  
Blogger Capt MidKnight said...

I see that your Heat arose from the dead last night to win the third game.

May be a series yet.

8:26 AM  
Blogger Al Sturgeon said...

They did? Wow! I'm shocked!

The Heat looked so bad at the beginning of the 4th quarter that I turned off the tv and read part of a book (Graham Green's "The Power and the Glory" by the way, which so far I'd highly recommend if anyone hasn't already read it).

Maybe there WILL be a series after all?!

8:54 AM  
Blogger juvenal_urbino said...

I dunno. Looked to me like it took all Miami had just to squeak out that one win.

P&G is supposedly Greene's masterpiece, Al. Personally, I liked it less than the other 2 I read.

2:38 PM  
Blogger Al Sturgeon said...

In the parts of the game I saw last night, the Heat showed absolutely no intensity. I don't know what happened after I turned off the television, but I still think they have the matchup problems that should be able to be exploited. But if the desire isn't there, then young Dallas has plenty-enough of that to spare.

I'm enjoying Power & Glory. What was your favorite book of Greene's?

3:24 PM  
Blogger juvenal_urbino said...

The Quiet American. The third one I read was The Heart of the Matter, which also was very good. I'd like to read some of his non-fiction, sometime. Interesting guy.

6:40 PM  

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