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Sunday, November 19, 2006

A shift in strategy?

Some good news coming out of the Denver game. Of course, we lost and made most of the same mistakes as always, but let’s take a look at good for a change….

Shortening the bench.

Mitchell decided to give a core group of guys most of the minutes tonight, which represents a new direction. Our run and gun, and play 9-10 guys mentality has quickly been replaced, at least for a game. It seems like we are still supposed to run and gun, only now we are doing it with a lot less guys. The ‘wearing the other team’ down plan won’t work in this scenario unless we are convinced these guys can run for 82 games.

A look at the numbers: Only 5 guys played 15+ minutes. Bosh, Ford, Garbo, Slam Dunk Champion all played 37+ minutes. On the flip side the entire team played with nobody logging less than 5 minutes. As much as he might have wanted to, Mitchell couldn’t keep the Hump off the floor. All he does is hustle, score and run the floor. Meanwhile Mo Pete logged 15, Calderone only 10, and the 8 million dollar man just 9.

I’m not sure what to make of the strategy, but you know Mo Pete aint going to like it. Mo's going to have a tough time making the All-Star team at this pace. Maybe it's a wake up call, maybe they're positioning him for 6th man of the year! Regardless, this strategy made for some interesting individual achievements, much like clicking the 'per 48 minutes' button.

TJ Ford’s 18 dimes, 26 points, 5 rebounds (10-16 shooting). In the first 7 minutes of the game TJ had 8 assists and with 7 minutes to go in the 3rd, he was at 15, breaking his own career high. You hate to see the wasted individual effort, forcing players into the inevitable “it’s a team game, I’d rather have the “w” and 2 assists”.

#15’s best game. I won’t say that #15 has been much better since I stopped talking about him, we’ll just take this one game at a time. But 39 minutes, 17,10,6 and no TO’s is well on the way. He couldn’t hit a ‘big shot’ down the stretch and his 3 ball is still nowhere to be found, but it’s a start.

The bad stuff….if you are are internal optimist like myself, then don’t bother reading on. But a look at a few of the problems.

Melo domination. This guy is dominating everybody so no real surprise that Parker / Jones couldn’t shut him down. He hit shots and he hit big shots. Beats the buzzer to end the 3rd, to take their lead from 2 to 5. Late in the 4th he goes for a steal and forces a turnover. Raps had a chance to get within 2 or 3, and whammo, Melo drains a 3 and we’re down 8. Like I said, big shots.

Bosh goes nuts on Ford. At the end of the game you game a nice shot of Bosh yelling at TJ at centre court. Why? Although Leo and Chuck have no clue, I’m going to say it was because of one late game play (plus a lot of anger boiling over). Game nearing closure, Raps have maybe one last chance. Ford gets the ball and passes it into the corner to Parker for the 3, when Bosh was at least as open in his 3 point office. I believe Bosh was saying "Give ME the ball at the end of the game ace. I don’t care how many assists you have, this is my team”.

Leo reminds us that “that stuff has got to go back to the locker room, it’s not for public display.” Good point Leo. Bosh doesn’t seem to like losing, I wonder if this is how it started for KG.

The rest of the ugly stuff, like getting out rebounded by 20, shooting 25% from the three point line (while attempting 24 3's) is not really worth digging up. And yes, I watched the Laker game but I was hoping the glory of pulling one out in Denver could overshadow that brutal game. Instead it's two "L's" and two games that could have been.


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