David Thorpe Just Called

June, 21, 2006
6/21/06
1:49
PM ET
He is, understandably, over the moon. He's Udonis Haslem's trainer, and a Florida guy. He was in the lockerroom, on the practice floor, and in the stands with Haslem's family during this series.

Udonis and David talked last night after the game, on the phone. Haslem shot 8-13, scored 17 points, and was one of FOUR Miami players to get double digit rebounds.

Check out the gameflow data. Haslem was huge in this whole series, and is a big part of the reason Dirk Nowitzki didn't do more damage.

This last weekend, Haslem wanted more urgent help with his shooting, so he called Thorpe, who was visiting family in Naples, and asked him to help. Thorpe drove to Miami, and joined Haslem on the practice court (Shaquille O'Neal was there too) where Thorpe said Haslem shot very well. As they left the gym around midnight, Haslem hit two straight clean NBA three-pointers. Thorpe told Haslem that as Dallas made asjustments in guarding Dwyane Wade, Udonis would get open looks, and would score 20 points in one game this series.

"If he had hit those three free throws," says Thorpe, "my prediction would have been perfect."

The first thing Haslem said when he picked up Thorpe's phone call at 1:30 this morning was: "how'd my shot look?"

Thorpe, who picked Miami as the favorite more than a month ago, has some other thoughts, observations, and predictions:

  • Pat Riley will likely retire now, in which case Thorpe "can almost guarantee" Stan Van Gundy will be back.
  • Gary Payton might retire.
  • Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem are humble, hard-working, and winners. As the Heat rebuild for the post-Shaq era, "I don't know who the player is going to be--Jermaine O'Neal, Patrick O'Bryant, LaMarcus Aldridge, or somebody else... someone is going to go to dinner with Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem and come away telling their agent they want to play for the Miami Heat." The Heat will be needing a big man of the future and some athleticism and shooting on the wings.
  • The coaching move of the series, he says, came from the Miami bench in game five. Early in the game, the Mavericks had figured out Dwyane Wade. They coaxed him into a terrible half. Wade was coming off screens, and catching passes from Jason Williams. The instant the pass left Williams' fingertips, three defenders (the guy guarding Jason Williams, Wade's defender, and the screener's defender all converged on Wade). It was working. So the call from the Miami bench was to have Wade bring the ball up. That way, he could see the double and triple teams coming, and adjust accordingly, rather than coming around a pick into a hornet's nest.
  • Thorpe believes Riley was brilliant all series. He stayed in the background. He never let the pressure mount on the team. He made an environment where the players could go out on the court trusting their instincts to be basketball players. Did you catch where Riley said there was no second option on the final play of game five? Thorpe loves that. It tells the Heat players "to go out there and play basketball." Avery Johnson, Thorpe felt, was much more involved, animated with every play. Ultimately, Johnson unwittingly became part of the sideshow, along with Mark Cuban, the referees, "and all that other stuff."
  • Thorpe believes Riley was so good, that had you switched the coaches, Dallas would have won.
  • Based on the post-game comments from the Heat last night, the leaked news of the parade route in Dallas was a huge mistake. "You never know what's going to motivate your opponent," says Thorpe, "which is why you always have to be PC."
  • One thing Thorpe told Haslem about guarding Nowitzki: don't let him make the same shot twice in a row. As far as Thorpe knows, that only happened once all series, in the first half last night.
  • One of David Thorpe's favorite plays of the series was with a minute-and-a-half left, and Miami up by one. Jason Williams missed a shot from the left corner. Haslem gambled--not getting back on defense, came from way far away from the hoop, and nabbed the offensive rebound, calmly shot-faked, and put in one of the most important buckets of the game.
  • He promises a new post about some of this on his blog later today.

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