[The DC Council -- After each Wizards game: setting the scene, rating the starters, assessing the bench, providing the analysis, and catching anything that you may have missed. Unlike the real DC Council, everything here is over the table. Game 66 contributors: Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20) from behind the television screen and Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis) and Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) from the Verizon Center.]
This post is certainly a couple days late and definitely several dollars short amidst the pixels urgently begging for your attention as soon as it happens. But words last forever and video preserves them further. This is what Randy Wittman, Erik Spoelstra, Shane Battier, Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Mo Evans and Nick Young said after they played on Friday, Feb. 10, 2012 in a 106-89 Miami Heat win over the Washington Wizards.
x “My challenge is always finding a way to be aggressive.” x “Every team plays hard against us, they bring their ‘A’ game against us. We understand that.” x “We’re always a day late and a dollar short.” x “I think that’s what the fans came to see. They love to see their favorite players do amazing things, and they got a chance to see that on both sides … Hopefully everyone that came to the game, paid their hard-earned dollars for their ticket, and got their money worth tonight.” x “I’m the best 3-point shooter in the world.”
LeBron James is in D.C. tonight to take on the Washington Wizards. He’s bringing some other guys with him, the Miami Heat, and they are favored by 13 points. The key for the Wizards is really if they choose to lose honorably or dishonorably. That’s what it boils down to (and containment, surely Randy Wittman is thinking, as he did versus the Knicks). Not saying the Wizards can’t win — there’s always an ‘any given night’ thing in the NBA – but it’s probably advisable that on this Friday night, Washington cleans the wound, bites down on a towel, and hopes the doctor extracts the bullet as soon as possible. For today’s 3-on-3 we have Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) of The Heat Index/ESPN.com, along with TAI’s Markus Allen (@mayminded) and John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend). Three questions, three answers starts now…
#1) Miami has already scored at least 50 points in the paint in nine games this season — a mark they hit 11 times all of last season. Washington has given up 50 or more points in the paint in six games this season. Against a likely frontline of JaVale McGee, Trevor Booker and Chris Singleton, will the Heat ride roughshod over the Wizards defense to score at least 50 in the painted area? How much fight will the home team have?
HABERSTROH: The Heat will have a much easier time piercing the paint than they did on Wednesday against Dwight Howard, that’s for sure. McGee might block shots, but he’s nowhere near the type of presence as Howard. There are two kinds of points in the paint: points scored in the halfcourt and points scored on the break. The Heat have struggled recently generating the former. Something tells me the Wizards might be waking up a sleeping giant.
ALLEN: Given their record, the Wizards are not that bad in points allowed in the paint, coming in at 40.2 (20th in the league). JaVale McGee had two games last year against the Heat in which he had four blocks in each, one of those performances coming in a close game that Washington lost 94-95. If JaVale stays out of foul trouble, the Wizards can definitely hold them to under 50 points in the paint; if he gets into early foul trouble, due to contact from LeBron or D-Wade driving, then Kevin Seraphin will certainly not be able to hold it down.
[Editor's Note: Before we all complain about the inundation with all that is LeBron -- with coverage good, bad, overall, and everything in between -- consider the fact of how such a unique character provides an opportunity to relish in how influential sports figures have become. That is to say, at least all of this is not boring. Ben Standig (Twitter: @BenStandig) writes about DMV sports all over the web, CSNWashington.com amongst them. In a TAI guess piece below, Ben breaks down a commonality between LeBron and Mike Tyson, who, by chance, is being inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame today. -Kyle W.]
Once upon a time, Mike Tyson was legitimately the baddest man on the planet and in that era he delivered one of the best quotes – both figuratively and in his case, literally – depicting the nature of intimidation in the world of sports. When told before a fight that his opponent had a plan to beat him, Tyson brashly countered that “everyone has a plan, until they get hit in the mouth.”
This quote is pertinent to the NBA Finals because up until a few days ago, most of the basketball world surely would have slotted one LeBron James into that role of baddest of the bad. Not that he would land an actual haymaker to an opponent’s cranium or was the one guy in the league you wouldn’t want to cross, but his physically imposing ways surely put fear into the hearts of opponents. That physicality certainly blinded the observing world.
The Miami Heat may very well win the 2011 NBA Finals, but regardless of triumph or defeat, LeBron will still be the villain. It’s OK.
Washington Wizards fans almost like to gloat that they were amongst the first to whom LeBron exposed himself to — the epitome of privilege that always asks for more and will resort to less-than-savory tactics to get what it wants. So what.
LeBron is a villain, and I’ve spent a lot of pixels communicating this. And I will continue to do so. LeBron is a fact of life.
Of course he’s making you love him as a basketball player, passing exuberantly, rebounding above all, defending with no restraint, astounding with power that compresses rim paint to the point of cracking. He’s no basketball dummy. The only thing that really dwarfs his instinct for the game is what he can do with that freak of a Karl Malone-sized body that he’s in.
["What he did? Told them he cut his eye ... in sparring." -Wu-Tang Clan, Bells of War]
I kept telling myself, evenTweeting, when Miami was looking like unstoppable beasts for all but about seven minutes of NBA Finals game two, “Is Dallas the type of team you don’t want to let hang around?”
Of course they are. The Mavs are a unit well-versed in veteran composure, lest they would have had a seven game series with the Oklahoma City Thunder. But Miami isn’t Oklahoma, in so many senses.
Late in the game, after countless amazing dunks with little defensive resistance, Miami finally pulled away and took an 88-73 lead on a Dwayne Wade three. After nailing the shot near Dallas’ bench, Wade held his follow through and slowly walked toward his own bench, as Mavs coach Rick Carlisle had called a timeout. LeBron came over to give Wade celebratory chest jabs.
When LeBron James complains about fouls, it’s not about his size, as he would gladly have you believe. Neither is it about there being a presumed double-standard from imposing basketball specimens like himself and Dwight Howard. Sure, there are reasons to take notice, but let’s be honest, it’s about politicking through the gladly willing media.
Said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra after Wednesday night’s game versus the Wizards:
“He absorbs a lot more contact than people realize. He’s big and tough enough that he shrugs it off. But you go in there and see him in the locker room, and he’s got ice on pretty much every part of his body.”
So do 5’11″ guards who live in the lane. So do a lot of NBA players. It’s a tough game. And when someone like LeBron, who has the sixth highest usage rate in the NBA at 31.4-percent, gladly uses his abnormal physique to gain an advantage, it certainly is going to feel like he’s being handled more physically, at least to him. But it’s all relative.
On Tuesday night, the Miami Heat went to Cleveland and were soundly defeated by the Cavaliers, 102-90. LeBron James had a triple-double with 27 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. Dwyane Wade had 24 points and Mike Bibby chipped-in 23 points–his most as a member of the Heat. Unfortunately, Chris Bosh (10 points, four rebounds and a team-worst plus/minus of minus-24) was a non-factor, and the Heat allowed the Cavs to shoot 55-percent from the field and 52-percent behind the arc.
After the game, Heat coach Erik Spolestra was not at all pleased.
We (I/you/us/them) have found cause to critique JaVale McGee to a high degree this season. It’s just when you combine immense talent and potential with a seeming unwillingness to learn and/or an inability to grow in basketball IQ, the way of the world is done an injustice without an honest assessment.
So, when McGee finally does “put it together,” also known as when he stops doing stupid things (like JaVale’s dribbles), you’ll appreciate how much he’s grown even more. All of this could be a bunch of bull to make myself feel better about my criticism. It also could be an “it is what it is” situation*.
The Wizards want JaVale McGee on that line, they need him on that line. They need him to get better because in totality, his improvement this season has been a slight disappointment. But rebuilding time is time afforded to go through these frustrations. So it’s all good … as long as McGee kicks butt this summer.
He’s done a lot better lately. One day he could be consistently amazing to watch. Oh the day dreams. Although, his mere five rebounds in 36 minutes against the Miami Heat on Wednesday night stands out from the 15.3 boards he averaged in the previous four games (on the road against the LA Clippers, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors and Utah Jazz). The quality of the opponent should be considered, but McGee still made his presence felt against the Heat, in the form of sweet, sweet blocks.