Yes and yes.
And yes, I know they're last in the East after losing to Charlotte and Seattle by a combined 24, with Wednesday's 104-95 shocker at home to the Sonics happening despite
I know the supporting cast is neither supportive nor well cast. "If you believe in the good-guy theory, then this is not your team,'' the scout said. "
I feel silly expending more energy to defend them than they appear to be showing on the court some nights.
But Wade is going to make a 180-degree difference as soon as he gets his legs under him and his wrists above the rim. Some people will say it's naïve to think that one player can alter a team that's played as pathetically as Miami, but he will help the Heat climb out of the league cellar in scoring (currently 84.8 ppg) while cementing their defense, which ranks a highly respectable fourth in points allowed (91.1) and ninth in opponents' field goal percentage (43.2).
Think about this: Where would Cleveland be right now if
"When I was watching them, my thought was this is a team going nowhere,'' the scout said. "But their coaching staff doesn't look panicked. They're working their asses off and they're frustrated and mad, but they're not panicked. So they must know something I don't know.''
In fact, we all know what they know: that Wade is one of the top 10 players in the league, a truth of which he'll be reminding us very soon.
A dynamic often ignored in the NBA -- I know I'm guilty of this -- is emotion. I remember being surprised a couple of years ago when D'Antoni was listing the ways the Suns missed
If Amaré cuts down a tree and there are 18,000 people there to see it, it ought to make a sound.
I always assumed that emotion had more influence in the NCAA than in this league. But even millionaires need motivation, especially when the season is up to seven-and-a-half months long. If they're planning to outplay the teams from Texas on their way to the NBA Finals, the Suns are going to need as much help of a home-court advantage as their fans can manage. This might be their last shot at a championship with this team.
It has to be the absence of easy wins in the league. There are only four teams that most opponents feel they should beat -- Seattle, Minnesota, Sacramento and Philadelphia, which is probably the best of them. It remains to be seen whether Charlotte lapses into that grouping. As for the other big losers -- Chicago, Golden State and Miami -- they figure to improve sharply over the next month or two.
In most years, there have been more easy opponents on the schedule, but all of a sudden the Hawks are no longer in that category, as aren't the Grizzlies, Bucks, Knicks (though many will argue with me) or Celtics, obviously. What this means is that it will be harder for middle-of-the-pack teams to run off a string of wins.
The West may have the majority of potential champions, but the East has the most playoff contenders. There are going to be a lot of Eastern teams hovering a few games north or south of .500 this season.
"They've bought into [coach]
"They've never had Oden, so they don't know what they're missing with him. As good as Randolph was, he was stunting their growth. He had to play those big minutes and it limited the growth of the team. Not only do the coaches want to prove they can win without Randolph, but I'm sure the players want to show they don't need him either. When you get your people to buy in and one guy doesn't buy in, I promise you that the rest of the guys on that team couldn't wait to ship him out.''
He's going to have to act a lot worse to persuade the Knicks to pay off his remaining $40 million. Next season Marbury could be a huge asset should they want to trade his expiring $20.8 million salary at the deadline. If it takes one argument on a plane -- Marbury reportedly learned of his benching from coach
Jackson is to be credited with trying to entertain himself as well as the rest of us. So he bombed in an offensive way. Who hasn't? He put a conclusion to the short era of