CHICAGO — Alonzo Mourning‘s tougher and better and would scare the Bulls more than any big man in a Heat uniform. Like, right now, at age 41.
‘Zo currently cuts a dignified presence in the Heat front office, the scowl replaced by a compassionate heart that reaches deep into the community, the Popeye forearms hidden by a tailored Brioni suit. But you could forgive the Heat for wondering if ‘Zo could find some sneakers and some shorts right now, 24 hours after Miami was bloodied on the boards by Joakim Noah and crew.
The Bulls own a huge advantage over the Heat from a big man’s perspective, and that won’t change in this series. It’s a fixed advantage for Chicago, meaning there’s nothing the Heat can do about it. Not only does Miami have the weakest collection of bigs of any team left in the playoffs, you’d be hard-pressed to recall another team that advanced this far in the post-season with a weaker group.
Remember those howls heard in Chicago when the Bulls trotted out Luc Longley and Bill Cartwright and Will Purdue? The Heat would kill for any of those guys right now.
Put it this way: The centers (Erick Dampier and Zydrunas Ilgauskas) who started 73 of the 82 regular-season games sat in suits for Game 1 because they couldn’t be trusted.
“I’ll re-evaluate,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, speaking about his options, which are few. Here’s what Miami is working with:
Jamaal Magloire. Big Cat saw only scant playing time over 18 regular season games, and was on the floor for three minutes in the post-season until he found himself playing 10 minutes in Game 1 against the Bulls. He was rusty and it showed; he missed an uncontested dunk (but did grab the rebound) and was too slow to deal with Noah and Taj Gibson.
Juwan Howard: He saw 19 minutes in the final game against Boston, and the way his team raved about it, you would’ve sworn Howard threw down a triple-double. Instead, two of his shots were blocked by Kevin Garnett. But he is 39 and the rave reviews had more to do with lowered expectations. (Side note: Did you know Howard has made over $160 million in salary in his career? Twice as much as Michael Jordan?).
Big Z. At 35 he can’t jump and doesn’t mix it up underneath, which means Noah would grab 50 rebounds if Z played 20 minutes.
Dampier. He hasn’t played a minute in the post-season. Which explains everything.
Joel Anthony. He had moments against the Sixers in the first round, less so against the Celtics, and now must contend with a player (Noah) who’s just as athletic but also wiser.
Everyone knew the Heat’s main weakness, aside from point guard, was an aggressive big man. But they never allowed that to overwhelm them. Does this finally catch up to the Heat, here against the Bulls, who bring too many tough and aggressive bigs in the paint?
Miami will play better than what it showed in Game 1. You figure LeBron James will not have many if any more tough shooting nights, same for Dwyane Wade. But getting something productive from the center spot seems very doubtful.
For a franchise with a history of being big and bad, like Alonzo, this is rather disturbing.