Game 6 - Heat 98, Hawks 72
Part of me wants to write blogs that can be linked to and distributed like Drew and Bret. I've had offers that haven't really panned out, but I get a little anxious about my blogging career when I see great guys like Bret getting published in ESPN's Daily Dime. But then games like Game 6 occur and I can't be objective and write in the third person and all that - I have to just call it like I see it and unfortunately, the only person who is successful with that style is Bill Simmons. Now, like Coco before me, I decided to head to Miami for a trip to see my Atlanta Hawks close out the Miami Heat for our first playoff victory and to do a victory celebration in South Beach. What transpired in defeat wasn't so much of a loss, but rather it was a bloodletting. So, we can't even offer a cogent, clear, organized game recap. We just have a jumble of good and bad emotions, so we'll provide them in this thing called the Kissies and the Pissies. Before we get there, we don't know where to put this - the Miami Heat didn't even play that well last night. D Wade played well, but mostly after we quit. But the rest of the team was mediocre.
Let's go with the good stuff first:
1. There's only ONE. The fact that the Heat decided not to call off the dogs and just revel in a complete destructive performance and rest in the 4th quarter (and by extension, allow us to get close enough for Coach Woodson and the Hawks think that they didn't do as badly as they did) - they have almost assured themselves of a defeat in Game 7. As we said far too often, the Hawks are not a consistent bunch, but they have picked themselves off the floor at home and fought. We expect nothing less on Sunday. Beat the Hawks and I'd be worried. Embarrass the Hawks and yes, they will come out with the energy that is necessary for victory.
1. Let's start with yet another Mike Woodson rant. Of the many things we hated about his coaching performance - we'll try to tick them off in random order...
- Why activate Marvin and Al? Instead of trying to prop them up, why not TRUST your other players to come in and play if they have to. We've played without starters all season. We could do it again like Orlando, Miami, Boston, Chicago have all done. It sends a terrible message to your players that you won't just plug in the next healthy player. You've already ruined Acie Law IV. Do you want to ruin the rest of your bench who should be 'ready' when you ask them to play if you are going to effectively say that they aren't better than a player with one healthy ankle and another who can't shoot with ...(wait for it) his SHOOTING HAND.
- Of the many things, we cussed about - this is tops. If you are already down 2 starters, YOUR STUPID A%& 2 FOULS and sit down rule is null and void. You sat Joe immediately after those fouls and I get that..for about 3-4 minutes, but when we were on the verge of getting blown out - how about understanding what Bret and company have already laid out with stats to back it up - Joe's one of the least likely players to foul out of a game. Guess how many fouls he had at the end of the game, Coach Woodson - THREE!!!! The thing I'm learning while watching the Bulls/Celtics series is that players can foul out and it not be the end of the world (well, I already knew that, but here's some fresh evidence). They are fouling out with say...25 seconds left or in overtime. And guess what - that's ok. At least, they aren't in a game with 3 fouls, but down 25 pts. Let's play to keep the game close and if you happen to lose one of these guys - let the bench player you trust most come in and try to make plays to win in those 25 seconds vs. hoping they can win games for you in the 16 minutes you don't play your BEST PLAYER!!!!!
- Junk your motivation tactics...like George Constanza in the famous Opposite episode. I'd like for you to do the OPPOSITE of whatever you do to get the team hyped up for games on the road. Your current method and strategy here is simply not working.
- Junk your post-game commentary. I'll be honest - I'd fire anyone on the spot if they watched what I watched in Game 6 and came to the podium and said I liked the position we were in for Game 7 and tried to extol all the good things about working hard for a Game 7. Quit trying to get credit for getting us a home game in Game 7 (and for playing the Celtics well in 3 home games last year). I'm much more interested in how you feel about getting blown out in 7 playoff games in the last 2 years. Remember that this team was playing without its 2nd best player and their only athletic match for the Hawks and won by 26 POINTS! Sorry if I would have heard that and I was an owner - you'd be fired. Period. Quit coddling these guys - that performance was abysmal and you should have broken something privately and publicly to express just how bad it was. Looking at you smiling during the post-game press conference after your team ruined by mood while I'm around the world's most beautiful people just made me throw up in my mouth again.
- And now the questions: How is it that from my lofty perch in the third level that I'm tweeting about the fact that Josh is about to get a T or get suspended if you don't get him out of the game right before he gets ...wait for it - a T. Why is the whole team getting Ts and you sit there and continue to play them. Overall, why did you even play the starters in the 4th quarter? What have you seen in this team that made you think it was possible for us to win that game? I would have respected you waving the white flag and sending a message to your team that that effort would not be rewarded with playing time. Instead, we wait until the last 5-6 minutes of a game that was over mid-way through the third quarter to bring in players who deserved to play more than the regular rotation did. My question again is WHY?
- Finally, nothing is more frustrating (and affirming) than to hear the guy next to me acknowledge that there's no reason for the Heat to be in this series by way of blowouts unless the team either refuses to follow Mike Woodson OR Mike Woodson's tactics are not good ones. He's saying - yes, we have the best player, but you guys have the next 5 best players...upon my agreement, they all laugh while we continue to mount no resistence, no heart, nothing to show what we think we know to be true. After watching almost every other team's offense (save Philly), we're going to say ..maybe on the first thought regarding following Mike Woodson and an answer of 'what tactics' on the latter question of whether those 'tactics' are good ones.
3. Let's get more specific - we already knew that D Wade was going to get the calls and yes, the officiating was a little slanted...so what? That's not 26 pts worth of officiating. So, I'll go to culprit no. 2 (behind Woody) for why we may lose the series...Joe Johnson, where are you? No shooting, poor passing (though the design where players stand 35 ft from the basket to receive Joe's pass out of the double team is maddening - almost every team has their players space themselves in the spots where they can hit shots or drive to the basket from, but again - as we said, what tactics?), lack of leadership, emotion, etc are all making me think that I'd rather have one dimensional Ben Gordon than you. That's where your stock has gone - below Ben Gordon. We know that Coach Woodson played you FAR too much during the season (more than D Wade and he had far less help than you did), but it's the playoffs - show some heart, suck it up, play real basketball, please.
4. Finally, there's no such thing as stating this too many times. "There's no substitute for heart and desire. Period."
So, in summary, this post isn't about losing a game. We can accept losing a game. If I'm a fan of the Chicago Bulls right now, while I may lament the fact that we lost the series to the Celtics - I certainly would be thoroughly pleased with the heart, emotion, guile, pressure-filled, clutch-ness, toughness, and skill shown in that series. You can build off of that series and grow your team. This is a team led by a rookie point guard, young bigs, a few vets, and a clutch, streak shooter. Getting your ass kicked 3 times to an inferior team is unacceptable in every form. The Hawks (win or lose) will not walk away from this series with any answers about itself. They certainly aren't inciting any fear in the Cavaliers. To that end, we bumped into a scout for the Cavs on our flight to Miami and he said - he didn't think the Hawks would win without Al and possibly lose the series. While I was wrong to laugh at him, we wonder if he didn't already know that the heart wasn't there. How many times have we watched this team get smacked in the face and just wilt from the sting? Too many times... maybe that's who we are. I still don't know how you don't come out to play in the 1st AND 3rd quarters. So, that leads us to this question - is it better to lose this series and hope that the GM sees the need for major changes OR is it better to win the series, lose in a sweep in round 2, and hope the GM sees the need for major changes. What's better? Right now, I don't know, but whatever answer ends in 'hope the GM sees the need for major changes - starting with the coaching' is the one we vote for. That said, Game 7 - let's get it.