Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Woodson: Douglas first guard off bench
By Jared Zwerling
MIAMI -- With Jeremy Lin and Baron Davis out, and Mike Bibby starting, Mike Woodson told reporters at Wednesday morning's shootaround at American Airlines Arena that Toney Douglas will be the first guard off the bench.
Keep in mind: Douglas hasn't played yet in the series, and J.R. Smith will still get significant minutes and run point as well with the first and second unit.
On the opposing side, Dwyane Wade said the Heat have had to make more adjustments game to game defensively because of all the Knicks' injuries, but sometimes scouting reports don't tell the entire story about a new player coming in like Douglas.
"I mean, you obviously have to trust some of the scouting report," D-Wade said, "but throughout the series, normally, you have to trust your eyes of feeling where the guy's going. But for a guy who hasn't played, you've got to go back to the scouting report in the beginning, and in the end try to make adjustments as you see what he's doing within the game."
Douglas began the regular season as the starting point guard after Chauncey Billups was amnestied in December, but he couldn't consistently run Mike D'Antoni's pick-and-roll offense. By Jan. 7, only eight games into the season, Douglas lost his spot to Iman Shumpert and after Lin exploded on to the scene on Feb. 4 and Davis got healthy two weeks later, the third-year player basically found himself at the end of the bench.
After Woodson took over the team on March 14, the interim head coach gave Douglas some extra playing time in early April, but he also became frustrated with the point guard's inability to generate enough offense.
But in actuality, Douglas is a combo guard trapped in a point guard's body. In fact, after the 2011 All-Star break, he led the NBA in 3-pointers made (68) at 40.5 percent accuracy. And that's a skill he needs to bring to Game 5, just like Bibby. Because Carmelo Anthony and Smith will be the primary attackers off the dribble, Douglas and Bibby, as well as Steve Novak, will need to be ready to catch and shoot at a moment's notice. Melo and Smith just need to remind themselves to be observant of their teammates at all times and be willing to pass the ball at the right time.
That's especially true because the Heat's defense comes at you real quick and the speed can be overwhelming. In addition, their awareness and aggressiveness protecting the perimeter has been superior in the series. It will be even more so Wednesday night, feeding off their fans, because the Knicks know the Heat want to finish the series and not go back to the Garden, one of the most challenging places to play for a visiting team.
"They're definitely going to try to close it out," Melo said after Tuesday's practice at the Knicks' training facility. "I'm pretty sure that's going to be their mindset. Our mindset is survival, to go down there and try to get another game. We can't turn the ball over on the road against that team, especially down there. We just want to do what we've got to do to win this basketball game, regardless of what it is."