Posts Tagged ‘Jamaal Magloire’

The Journeyman Finals

MIAMI — Trivia: Name the two NBA teams that no current Heat or Mavs player has ever played for.

Answer below…

If you’re not a fan of the Miami Heat or the Dallas Mavericks, you probably still have an interest in the outcome of the 2011 NBA Finals.

There’s plenty of anti-Heat sentiment among fans of the league’s 28 other teams, of course. But there’s also plenty of former-player sentiment as well. There are likely Nets fans out there hoping to see Jason Kidd get a ring or Hornets fans who’d like to see Tyson Chandler win a title.

These are two veteran squads, with a total of seven guys who have played for at least five different franchises in their careers …

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Where have you gone, Mr. Mourning?

CHICAGOAlonzo 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.

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Rebound now, or maybe not at all

CHICAGO — If the Miami Heat hope to rebound in Game 2 from their 103-82 pasting Sunday by the Chicago Bulls in the opener of the East finals, they will need to do just that: Rebound.

Rebound as they did at times in previous playoff games (52 vs. Philadelphia back on April 16). Rebound like Spider-Man working the glass. Rebound as if their postseason lives depend on it. Which they might.

Choose whichever you want, the Heat got beat on the boards. They managed to grab only six offensive rebounds (one more than their 2011 playoff low). That limited them to just eight second-chance points and worse, only 68 field-goal attempts. That matched their previous low in these playoffs.

So it did Miami little good to shoot at a higher percentage than Chicago; to match the Bulls’ 38 field goals while taking only 68 shots, the Heat would have had to shoot 55.8 percent. And no one shoots 55.8 percent against a Tom Thibodeau-coached defense in the postseason.

At the other end, the Heat grabbed 27 defensive rebounds but allowed Chicago to take back 19 of their misses. That fueled the Bulls’ bounty of 31 second-chance points. That’s deflating in its own sense but it really hurt because Miami did not make Chicago pay for its aggressiveness on the offensive glass. The Bulls still managed to get defenders back to close off Miami’s fast-break opportunities, even as Joakim Noah was grabbing eight offensive rebounds Carlos Boozer was getting four and Taj Gibson managed three off the bench.

Some of this is personnel, certainly. NBC Sports’ Pro Basketball Talk addressed that issue:

“[The] Heat have had their best success these playoffs with a small ball lineup. Meaning the 6-foot-9 Joel Anthony at center. The 76ers couldn’t expose the Heat for that, and the Celtics by design don’t try to grab offensive rebounds. But the Bulls do and just destroyed the Heat so severely it made Erik Spoelstra go to Jamal Magloire for 10 minutes to see if that would help. If the Heat have to go away from the Anthony lineup, they could suffer in other ways.”

Yeah, when your options in the middle are Anthony, Magloire or Juwan Howard Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Erick Dampier were inactive Sunday – that can happen.

But the Bulls deserve credit too for tiptoeing that fine line between going after their missed shots vs. heading off Miami’s transition game. Thibodeau had said Saturday, after his team’s final practice before the series, that he wanted his guys to do exactly what they had done all season, boards-wise.

“Our smalls have a responsibility of getting back to protect,” the Bulls coach said. “Our bigs, if they’re inside, go to the offensive glass. If a big is on the perimeter, he gets back. I don’t want to change what we do in terms of responsibility. But you are concerned about giving them easy baskets, so if it does mean you get everyone back, you get everyone back.”

Don’t overlook the Bulls’ accuracy from 3-point range (47.6 percent) and their care in not hoisting reckless long jumpers from out front, the ones most likely to kick back as breakout chances. It all conspired to beat the Heat on this particular night.

“When they started to overwhelm us on the glass,” Spoelstra said, “I think we started to lose our focus on the other end of the court. And it affected us.”

The Big Finish?

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Posted by Sekou Smith

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Has it come to this for Shaquille O’Neal?

Is there no one out there interested in signing (the aged) former superstar and one-time most dominant (you can fill in whatever moniker he liked to use) of all time?

We have to admit to being a bit stunned that Shaq is now the most high-profile name left on the free agent market, no offense to Tracy McGrady and Allen Iverson but Shaq’s still got you in at least that one category.

We honestly thought someone would have signed Shaq by now. When you consider all of the (younger) bigs that have been signed to deals, watching Shaq hang on the vine like this has been a bit of a head-scratcher.

Sure, he’s not the behemoth he once was. The man is 18 years deep into his Hall of Fame career and still more than capable of playing 20-plus minutes a night and contributing 12-14 points a night and 6-8 rebounds a night, as he did for Cleveland last season. You can’t build around him anymore and you can’t rely on him to carry you in the postseason anymore. We all realize that much.

But he’s not even worth a look as a contributor?

It just doesn’t make sense.

If these rumblings are true, that Shaq wants a salary higher than the $5.8 million mid-level exception and a guarantee that he’ll be a starter, it’s understandable why so many teams have passed.

And maybe we’re being a bit too nostalgic where Shaq is concerned. It’s just that we know a good showman is hard to find. And one that can entertain as well as clear some space in the lane and impose his will on both ends of the floor, even in limited minutes, is extremely difficult to find.

Yet, day by day, Shaq is being squeezed out of the market by other, and apparently more attractive options. The Miami Heat opted for a mix of younger (Joel Anthony), old (Jamaal Magloire) and older (Juwan Howard). The Boston Celtics went with the other [Jermaine] O’Neal.

The Hawks, the one team desperate for some immediate big man assistance, are reportedly bringing back Jason “Diesel” Collins intead of ponying up the cash for the former “Big Diesel.”

Again, it’s strange to see Shaq tossed into the hopper with players like McGrady and Iverson — veterans desperately seeking work — when such a premium is being placed on big men.

And in a summer of seemingly incomprehensible fiscal irresponsibility, we’re struggling to comprehend the idea that no one is willing to commit a little extra cash to Shaq!

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