I am continuing with my list (albeit, VERY short list) of teams that can stop the "Superfriends," Miami Heat squad, for the 2011 Eastern Conference crown. The next entry is the Orlando Magic, with their floor leader, PG Jameer Nelson.
Read the reasons, debate them, and please respond!
There is no greater mismatch that the Magic have over the Heat than at the Center position!
D. Howard is heads and shoulders above ANYTHING the Heat can put opposite him. Big Z? Dexter Pittman? Joel Anthony? Please. After hearing a recent interview where Howard said he has been training with Hakeem Olajuwon and reviewing the Conference Finals, he said he sees the way he can play at the highest level and will do so consistently.
Anyone who knows basketball knows that dominance in the interior makes the game easier for everything else.
I will admit I do not care for J.J. Redick, Rashard Lewis, or the style of mad bombing Orlando deploys. However, I am man enough to admit when the three pointers are dropping, it can start a run for the Magic, stop a run by the opposition, or even allow the Magic to maintain a lead.
Miami does not have quite the gunners Orlando has (Eddie House, James Jones?). While the Heat have bigger names, Orlando has better shooters, hands down.
It helps to have players who hang their hat on defense, as well as a team that understands that defense wins championships. Orlando has both with Pietrus (pictured), Gortat, and the best defense in the NBA in the regular season.
They have bought in to the concept that the "D" will allow them to christen their new arena with a championship banner, and that will help carry them when the three-pointers are not falling. They saw what it did for Boston last year and for themselves in 2009.
He is Jeff's brother, and he is a damn good coach in his own right. He has not forgotten the way he "left" Miami at the beginning of 2005-06 (he retired for his family, my eye!) and he knows that to beat the Heat would be karma coming back around in such a HUGE way for Kaiser Riley.
Don't think SVG is not already cooking up ways to defeat the Heat. He needs to adjust a few things (more on that later), but trust me, Stan Van wants this so bad!
Like EPMD's classic first album, there is unfinished business to attend to. Do you think this team has forgotten about how they came up short against the Celtics last year, or against the Lakers in '09? Goodness gracious, sakes alive, they are going to be driven to show that they are as elite as those top two teams!
If you think that they are going to roll over so David Stern can have his Hollywood vs. South Beach Finals, then you've got another thing coming. It just could be Lakers-Magic II.
Marcin Gortat and Brandon Bass are not starters, stars, or superlative players. But they are better off the bench big men than who Miami has coming off the bench (save maybe Udonis Haslem, if he's a reserve).
Players like these are guys SVG has to incorporate more of and earlier in series (like against the Heat) in order to play to one his team's better strengths. These guys have tough points, rebounds, and fouls just oozing from them. Play them more, Stan Van!
Quentin Richardson, Chris Duhon, Pietrus, etc. are the better bench when compared to Miami. Their roles are already defined, they know what is expected of them (critical when dealing with the egos of NBA players) and how much time they should receive.
The pressure is on D. Howard, Jameer Nelson, and the starters to carry the game, the bench only has to come in and maintain or amp up the flow. Let the fun begin!
Here is where SVG and Otis Smith can truly surpass the Heat. If they will adjust the gameplan to be a "normal" team, they can be a far superior team.
Part 1: ditch totally surrounding Howard with bombers as the primary attack. Make it secondary.
Part 2, trade VC's contract for Antawn Jamison (comparable salaries, plus fillers), and have him play the "Stretch 4" in the high post, and Rashard Lewis can go back to the 3, with Pietrus starting as the defensive-minded 2. That forces LeBron away from the basket to help rebound against Howard and pulls Bosh out as well. Jamison's numbers will match up against Bosh and Pietrus at 6-6 will give the 6-4 Wade a bigger defender.
Think about it, Otis and Stan. You can even take credit for the idea.
Jameer Nelson give the Magic a true floor leader. He is the coach on the floor, and he is the director of the offensive show. The Heat have yet to establish that (it appears it will be Wade. Oh wait, LBJ wants to be Magic. Oh wait, C. Bosh wants to be like Odom in the high post. Oh, they will have to figure it out.)
Anyway, the Magic clearly win the PG matchup, which along with the center matchup, gives them clear advantages in two key areas.
The Magic and Heat came into the league one year apart. They reside in the same state. The Magic's coach was forced out by the Heat's president/coach. SVG was a big critic of LBJ's "Decision" saga. Dwight Howard said the Magic does not like the Heat. The Heat have one championship, while the Magic are 0-2 in the Finals. The Heat have become the darlings of the media, while the Magic have been pushed to the back of the media's collective conscience. If you think the Magic is not looking to show they are still the Kings of the South, just watch what unfolds this season.