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The Miami Vice Will Be Lifted

I don't want to overreact after one game but . . . I can't help it. That performance by the Miami Heat last night was absolutely wretched. The players got their championship rings, then got rung up by 42 points. Ri. Di. Cu. Lous. Now, I'll admit, the Chicago Bulls are much improved, but that made absolutely no sense to come out and get smoked 108-66 at home, on national television, on ring night.

Just because of what I saw in that performance, I'm going to go out on a limb - okay, maybe not a big one here - and say that the Washington Wizards will finally snap their 16-game losing streak to the Heat this season. The streak is over. The Wiz kids might even win two games against Miami. The Miami Vice will be lifted - no, this has nothing to do with that awful movie adaptation starring Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell -- and here's the main reason why: The Heat, and its veteran (some would say really old) roster don't give a lick about the regular season. Miami will take nights off, regardless of the foe or the circumstances. How else do you explain getting embarrassed like that last night?

Winning that ring was probably the worst thing that could happen to Pat Riley. He can't really stress the importance of having a sense of urgency because they already learned that you only need to play hard between April and June. All of the other months are meaningless, if for nothing else than playoff seeding. The Heat will play hard enough to win the division - and that's it. No more and no less. I remember talking to Shaquille O'Neal about their sluggish start last season, he said something like, "as long as we get one of those top four seeds, homecourt advantage, that's all that matters." That might be the theme for the Heat once again.

I certainly didn't expect Miami not to show up on opening night. The Heat had animated player introductions, exciting pyrotechnics, and each player marched up to David Stern and accepted his ring. The players danced in the huddle as they checked out the new bling. Alonzo Mourning and Gary Payton were flashing those gold monstrosities and giggling. Then, Mourning grabbed the mic and said the Heat was going to do it again.

But about 20 minutes into watching the game, I kept screaming, "The Heat stinks!" My wife, who is from South Florida and loves everything that has to do with Dwyane Wade or Shaq, begged me to stop bashing her boys, but. . .I couldn't help it. Before the first half was over, I kept thinking to myself: This is the team that I picked to win the Eastern Conference? I'm not ready to jump ship completely but it certainly made me believe that Riley is greatest motivator in history, because that group had no business beating the Dallas Mavericks last season. None.

I hate to say it, but Shaq is really on his last legs. I'm sure Ben Wallace had a lot to do with how bad he looked, but he cannot blame the new ball for missing 7 of 10 shots. He cannot blame the new ball for the shot Bulls rookie Tyrus Thomas sent the opposite direction. He definitely cannot blame the new ball for having no lift when Wade tried to throw him a lob. Shaq has yet to adjust to these new rules about contact for big men. He's picking up ticky-tack fouls too quickly to be effective. I can remember a sportswriting friend of mine telling me that because of Shaq's size, his decline will be rapid. I think we are witnessing it right now. He is about to set new career lows in just about every category for the second year in the row. And, the Heat will look more and more like Wade and The Way Past Their Primes this season.

I picked the Heat to beat Dallas last season based mostly on my heart than my head. Miami won because Wade played with an extraterrestrial edge, so I felt pretty smart. I don't feel so smart this morning because I realized that I really slept on the Bulls. I saw them in the preseason against San Antonio and thought: These guys are going to be pretty good but I couldn't pull myself to pick them over Detroit or Cleveland. I'm not saying I'll switch my rankings so quickly, but they are better and deeper than advertised.

And, Ben Wallace doesn't look weird at all in that uniform. You know how sometimes you have that initial shock seeing someone in a different uniform? Like when Vince was traded to New Jersey or when Chris Webber was traded to Philadelphia. That wasn't the case with Wallace. He fits in perfectly. I also really love the aggression and energy of the rook Thomas. That kid will make a highlight or two this season. He might dunk on somebody every game this season.

Maybe the loss to Chicago will wake up the Heat. Maybe not. I just know the Wizards will get one - maybe two - this year.

By Michael Lee  |  November 1, 2006; 12:11 PM ET
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I loved the game last nite!!!!!!!! Miami made Chicago look better than they are, I hope Miami plays like that the rest of the year. (I can dream can't I)

Posted by: PamelaBrandly | November 1, 2006 12:30 PM | Report abuse

multiple typos in this article... proof read your work! i also think it should read the Heat "stink" not stinks.
your 9th grade English teacher

Posted by: Prof. Gellin | November 1, 2006 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Any idea who's gonna rebound for the Wizards? That's our Achilles heel.

Posted by: Mark | November 1, 2006 12:44 PM | Report abuse

I admit Miami stunk last night but it's just 1 out of 82 games. And Shaq was right; what exactly is the regular season for if not making the playoffs and securing home court advantage. Sure it'll be nice to win 60+ like the Pistons did last year but they don't give hardware for that.

Posted by: Bart | November 1, 2006 12:47 PM | Report abuse

@9th grade English teacher: It's called a blog. Kinda like what your 9th grade students call diary.

Posted by: Bart | November 1, 2006 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Do you see? Do you see everyone? This is what Bernard King and I have been talking about all season. This nonsense about how we are going to win the East. You can't just say it. The Bulls, a team behind us last year, got so much better than us. Look at Tyrus Thomas, man...WTF. How did we not make a play for him in the draft...exactly what we needed, an active defensive PF who will protect the rim. Jesus.

The two reasons we will not come close to "Winning the East": 1) Everyone got better except us. Example. We picked that idiot Pecherov. The Lakers took Farmar from UCLA. That dude contributed big time to a team that was without Kobe playing the Suns and they WON.
2) We have no bench. Everyone else that is a contender has a bench. Guys that can play stretches...not just a spark. As depleted as the Lakers were, Ruffin would never make that roster. That is how un-deep we are.

I listened to the nonsense on Comcast last night. This was their predictions from the experts: 48, 49 and 51 wins. WHAT! Jordan predicted 50. This is foolish talk.

44 wins and a first round exit for the team as it is currently made up. That includes everyone staying healthy.

wake up.

Posted by: The Governor | November 1, 2006 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Ok, to the dude who's overreacting, Um...The Bulls ain't really that good and Miami ain't that bad. As far as the Wiz winning 50...They was on pace for 50 until Caron went down at the end of the year. They was on an 8 game winning streak before he got hurt, and lost 5 straight when he was out. And lets not forget he didn't even start for about 10-15 games into the season. Ivan or Mike, can U get me a record with and without Caron in the starting line-up? I'm pretty sure it was on a 50 win pace with him in. And what's up with Andy Miller? That Bama needs some quality talent before he starts complaining about anything!!!

Posted by: c.bell | November 1, 2006 1:09 PM | Report abuse

To the reader who wanted to know what the Wizards' record was with Caron in the starting lineup: The Wizards were 33-21. If the Wizards play at that pace for 82 games, that's 50 wins exactly.
And, you are right. The Heat isn't THAT bad, and the Bulls aren't THAT good -- they won't shoot that well (49 percent) for the entire season -- but they are better than I first thought.

Posted by: Michael Lee | November 1, 2006 1:27 PM | Report abuse

To add to Michael's point, the Wizards had a point differential of a 46-47 win team last year, even when you factor in Butler's injury and 6th man status to start the year. They got pretty unlucky and deserved more wins than they got.

Posted by: Bullets Fever | November 1, 2006 2:00 PM | Report abuse

You are in Redskin Redux. Give the Wiz a chance. They are going to show the Danny that continuity and chemistry are not overrated. Just watch. They'll be good.

Posted by: BooferSux | November 1, 2006 2:58 PM | Report abuse

My main man broheim that joins me from the Skins blog. I know the Wizards will be good. Like I said, they will win 44 games. That is good. But the idea that they can compete to win it all is ridiculous to me. It's all relative. I just don't want to see this franchise pull what the Celtics did or the Timberwolves. In other words, my worry is that we have essentially peaked and haven't been smart in trying to outwit the rest of the East.

Posted by: The Governor | November 1, 2006 3:44 PM | Report abuse

The biggest challenge the Wizards will have in reaching 50 wins are the referees. The reasons the Wizards had such a favorable point differential, better than their record, is because they didn't get those "either way" calls at the end of tight games. Hopefully that swings a little more in their favor, especially if they establish an image as a strong team early in the season.

This team has major talent. Get ready to be entertained.

Posted by: Wei | November 1, 2006 3:55 PM | Report abuse

The Bulls might not be that good and Miami not that bad, but one thing the Bulls are is HUNGRY...Skiles has that team ready to play every night...

Posted by: Rich | November 1, 2006 4:16 PM | Report abuse

The Bulls might not be that good and Miami not that bad, but one thing the Bulls are is HUNGRY...Skiles has that team ready to play every night...

Posted by: Rich | November 1, 2006 4:17 PM | Report abuse

The Bulls might not be that good and Miami not that bad, but one thing the Bulls are is HUNGRY...Skiles has that team ready to play every night...

Posted by: Rich | November 1, 2006 4:17 PM | Report abuse

What Up Boofer Sux,

We may be better this year than we were last year when we sang our little songs about defense in the preseason. We might be better but, we now have to go against better teams every night. I still think the Celtics stink but no doubt they are better than last year. The Magic are everyone's sleeper to get to the playoffs. The Bucks cut some fat and have some guys that can play. Indiana got Harrington back and will be tough this year. See what I mean? The top teams are still there, The Bulls are flat out nasty and unpleasureable to play against and have got to be picked ahead of us, Cleveland is a year better. How in the world are we not headed for a similar win total from last year and a 1st round exit?

50 wins is a pipe dream. The kind of pipe that involves an illegal substance.

Posted by: Bernard King | November 1, 2006 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Ok, all together everyone:

The Wizards winning percentage when Caron was a starter was equivalent to 50 wins for an 82 game season. [repeat 3 times]

Will someone get Bernard King a calculator?

Some teams are better. Some teams are worse. The Wizards are solid and will have a hard time NOT winning 50 games.

Posted by: Wei | November 1, 2006 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Mike! I knew it was on pace for 50. And for everybody out there who are ready to anoint Chicago, ITS ONE GAME!!! That Heat team looked more interested in the after party than the game. I watched Rod Strickland play here and I know the lets-get-this-game-over-so-i-can-party face! And the Bulls only got better thanks to Isaiah Thomas. And Tyrus Thomas is exciting, but...I'll hold my judgement til after the all-star break. And trust me when I say this, Chris Duhon will never shoot like that again!!!

Posted by: c.bell | November 1, 2006 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Wei, my calculator works fine. Did you watch last night? Same song as always. We say 'D' all through the preseason. We say 'protect the rim' like its a real thing that we'll do. I guess that doesn't apply in the last 5 minutes of the 4th quarter.

It is the SAME THING. We go small, teams get easy buckets. I was screaming my head off last night at the tv.

Eric Snow's layup (Eric f(*^*&(%*&(*) Snow!!!), Hughes' dunk, Lebron' dunk + layup, 2nd chance points because we cannot grab a rebound.

Can we get a memo to Eddie Jordan to ban the small lineup in crunchtime!

Wei, if we win 50 this year, look for me at Wisconsin and M in the middle of the intersection doing a handstand in rush hour traffic. If last night's game didn't tell you everything you needed to know, then I would ask to borrow the rose colored glasses you're wearing.

Posted by: Bernard King | November 2, 2006 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Bernard King: agreed with 1 thing: why did EJ take the big guys out??!! They drove the lane on us @ twice to kill the game.


Posted by: Bernard King agree-er | November 2, 2006 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Can I get everyone's thoughts on a matter?

I've been talking with my buddy about the fact that maybe we should trade Jamison this year for a proven big man. Jamison's stock is still high, as he recently make the All-star team and got 20 and 9 last year. But he just doesn't do what we need him. He's extremly slow, loves to jack up threes all game, loves taking game winners (except he never makes them). And with Butler just getting better, if we could package a deal that would send Jamison and Haywood for a good big man, why wouldn't we?

Posted by: DC Luv | November 2, 2006 9:49 AM | Report abuse

"On a play drawn up by Coach Eddie Jordan in the huddle, the Wizards inbounded the ball to Arenas, who wheeled off a screen set by Jamison, drew two defenders and zipped the ball to his open teammate."


That's not how the play happen. Gilbert inbounded to ball to Jamison. Jamison faked a handoff to Arenas, who drew both defenders (because everone knew he'd be the person taking the last shot, right? wrong), Jamison was thus left wide open for the game tying three and of course he missed it. It was a great play drawn by Eddie though. Great play.

Posted by: G-in-DC | November 2, 2006 9:58 AM | Report abuse

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