My infatuation with the Miami Heat continues. As I attempt to decide if I'm rooting for them or against them before the NBA Playoffs start, one thing is for sure, I can't take my eyes off of them. The Knicks-Heat game the other night was truly fantastic, and I even watched it with some knowledge of how things turned out. They are the most fascinating team in NBA history (which is to say, my history, which doesn't extend much beyond my fairly limited knowledge obtained in the post-Jordan era). Notice how I boast the Dallas Mavericks as my favorite team in the NBA, and even maintain the monicker His Dirkness (in tribute to two of my idols - The Dude and Dirk Nowitzki - for those of you who weren't in the know), and yet haven't watched more than three of their games all season. They can't come close to matching the interest level of the Miami Heat right now.
However, I must interject right quick about a current power struggle between my ears pertaining to my favorite team in the League. The New York Knicks were the team I was born and raised on because my brother was big into thuggery, to the likes of Charles Oakley and Anthony Mason (although I was a young tyke at the time, so I supported their guards like John Starks and Chris Childs - and even got me to cheer on Nebraska heartbreaker Charlie Ward). However, the Knicks have been so bad the last decade that I was almost forced to pick a new team. Enter Mark Cuban, Steve Nash, and Dirk Nowitzki. But now, the New York Knicks are back baby (!) with a roster full of new players that I all like. Amar'e Qwang-Zilla Stoudemire is a black jew, who sports the goggles, and shares a strong resemblance to my white-commonly-mistaken-as-jewish friend. Carmelo Anthony earned my respect downing KU in the National Championship Game and for standing as the lone exception to the rule that a freshman can't lead a college team to a N.C. Also, he's extremely fun to watch because he's a big body and likes to play physical (just like the old Knicks!). Chauncey Billups...well, it's just fun to say Chaunnnsay. The good news for me is that they play in separate conferences, now giving me a favorite team in the East and the West.
Back to the Miami Heat, who, despite their semi-gaudy 43-18 record, have struggled against the other elite teams in the league. It's bizarre to me how much they have truly become LeBron's team. Dwyane Wade has evolved from The Factor (remember when he cheated his way to an NBA title?) to The X-Factor to the Non-Factor. I forget he's even on the team when I watch the Heat. In fact, I can hardly tell a difference between last year's Cavaliers team and this year's Heat team. It's all LeBron. This got me to thinking, how could they maximize their talents? I thought about when they were at their best and when they were at their worst, which led me to one overriding question...
Has an NBA team ever deployed an all out 48-minute full court press?
Think about how perfect the Miami Heat are built for it. For starters, LeBron is completely unstoppable in transition. Once he starts the locomotive, you ain't stoppin it. Then you throw in D-Wizzly, who would make a perfect high-flying sidekick. Then you got the Heat's third most important player, Mario Chalmers (HA! #LikeABosh) who would be perfectly casted in a full court press style with his instincts and quick hands (interesting to note, that the Miami crowd turned on Mario last game, apparently chanting "Mario Sucks" during the game).
This move also downplays their worst aspect of play, their half court offense. It has been well-reported that they have struggled in close games, mostly because they can't operate on offense down the stretch. I have noticed that there's an effective way to guard LeBron by playing off of him and letting him shoot jump shots because A. He will shoot them and B. He's not that good at them. Suddenly, LeBron becomes LeBroff. Dwyane Wade starts wandering why his name is spelled so goofy and can be spotted swattin' flies in the corner. And Chris Bosh, well, he stays Chris Bosh.
I haven't even mentioned the pure surprise factor if they did unleash this strategy. NBA teams wouldn't be ready to handle it. Plus, a strategy like this elongates the game, which leads to the superior team winning at a higher percentage rate (an outmatched team will almost always try to slow a game down). Shouldn't the Miami Heat be a superior team to teams like the Bulls and Knicks (maybe not the Lakers or Celtics just yet because of their chemistry)?
I'm sure an NBA junkie could give tons of reasons why this idea wouldn't work (for starters, how does Erik Spoelstra get any of his players to listen to him?). I'm also sure many of those same people thought that the Miami Heat would coast to an NBA title this year. However, they might be right that it wouldn't work, but I won't believe it until I see it with my own eyes.
One thing is for sure, the future is bright for the NBA. I am unbelievably excited for the Playoffs. And I didn't even get a chance to delve into the reinvigorated Heat-Knicks rivalry, with the 1-on-1 matchup that everybody has wanted to see since they came into the league: Bron v. Melo.