Tuesday, February 1, 2011
By Kevin Arnovitz
Israel Gutierrez of the Miami Herald, like many of us, is befuddled that LeBron James is getting grief for passing the ball to Eddie House in a decisive possession down the stretch in Oklahoma City. House drained the 3-pointer to put the Heat ahead for good, but James has received criticism for not taking the shot himself. As our Tom Haberstroh wrote on Sunday night, "This was a selfless act, one that increased the chances the Heat would win the game. In the purest sense, it was a career 33 percent 3-point shooter handing the keys to a 39 percent 3-point shooter. It was a basketball winning play." Public discourse is best when a broad range of opinions are in the mix, but it's hard to comprehend how a high-percentage play like the one made by James can come under attack, especially when you cull the Michael Jordan files and cite the numerous times MJ made key passes to open teammates for big wins.
John Krolik of Cavs the Blog with a pithy summary of Monday night's game from the Cleveland perspective: "No answers. When Wade wanted to drive, he sliced through the Cavalier defense and finished in a wide variety of fashions. When LeBron put the ball on the floor, the Cavs were forced to foul him or leave a shooter wide-open. When the Heat missed, it was because the Cavs had left Ilgauskas alone underneath to contest the shot. The Heat had the advantage in the paint, in the frontcourt, in the backcourt, from beyond the arc, off the bench, on offense, on defense."
Mike Miller has traditionally been one of the better rebounding wings in the league. Sebastian Pruiti at Basketball Prospectus explains how Miller's shot actually helps his offensive rebounding totals, which have improved this season: "Even with Miller shooting poorly this year, defenses have to respect his shot. When they do that and one of Miller's teammates gets a shot off, Miller's defender is usually out of position for a box-out, allowing Miller to crash the boards."
Cavs' rookie Manny Harris tells Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Cleveland Plain Dealer that James approached him after Monday night's Cavaliers-Heat game: "After Miami handled the Cavaliers, 117-90, on Monday night, Heat star LeBron James met rookie Manny Harris at center court and had a little heart-to-heart. 'He basically told me to keep getting better every day,' Harris said, who had 20 points and five rebounds for the Cavs. 'Coming from a player like him and his caliber it means a lot. Everything he said was right; keep playing every day and help my team get better.'"
Ira Winderman from the Sun Sentinel hears from a fan who didn't care for Hubie Brown's color commentary of the Heat-Thunder game. Winderman responds: "Actually, I thought he was terrific. While so many focus on everything but the game, Hubie is not afraid to talk solely about basketball. His strategy points were wonderful."
Charley Rosen of AOL Fanhouse pegs the Heat at 3:1 odds to win the NBA title: "Not enough stuff at the point guard position at both ends of the floor. No post-up scoring threat. Too much one-on-one play, and way too much ball domination by LeBron. There's no way Miami can get past Boston."