Mar 30, 2008

The Miami Meat

I was scanning the daily NBA box scores when one game jumped out at me: Boston 88, Miami 62. 62? 62! To be honest, I didn't even blink about this "game" resulting in a blowout win for the C's.... but 62 points for Miami? From now on, I'm calling the 2007-08 Miami squad the "Miami Meat." It would be a perfect way of commemorating the countless slaughterings that have taken place in recent months.

I don't remember the last time I saw this type of ineptitude displayed on a basketball court, and in the NBA nonetheless. Upon further review, I noted the Meat didn't manage 20 points in any quarter of Sunday's game. I don't care how good the Celtics' defense is -- and it is very good -- 62 points is just plain inexcusable. Two years ago, Kobe scored that much (or more) on two different occasions! MJ dropped 63 on the Bird-led Celtics in a playoff game in the Garden.

Did Pat Riley waive the white flag on the season? Okay, so that was a rhetorical question... of course he did. I dare you to name 4 current players on the Meat's active roster. Tick... tock... tick... tock... okay, I'm guessing you couldn't do it. Outside of Ricky Davis, there really isn't a single recognizable name logging minutes for the Meat these days. The second-highest profile player donning the red & black on Sunday was Mark Blount. Rounding out the starting lineup was Chris Quinn, Kasib Powell, & Earl Barron. The reserves? Even worse: Joel Anthony, Stephane Lasme, Blake Ahearn, & Alexander Johnson. Who are these guys? I'd be willing to bet the casual NBA fan would recognize more names on most D-League rosters right now.

Dead Meat

Look down the Meat's bench these days, and you might think you are staring at a night club entrance line. The problem with that analogy is that there is undoubtedly more game being laid down in Miami night clubs than there is on the basketball court this year. Stern must be beaming at the sight of his dress code in full force: Wade, Williams, Haslem, Marion, Dorell Wright, Daquan Cook, all decked out in three piece suits. Riley's proverbial white flag was raised when Wade was given a shower pass for the remainder of the season, and apparently the rest of the team is getting the same treatment.

Riley is playing for lottery balls at this point, and doing a horrible job of disguising his motives. For a coach of Riley's stature, there is no such thing as a "moral victory." He's going through the motions, drawing up x's & o's during timeouts, but it's not hard to see what he's doing. He's putting together lineups that he knows cannot succeed. After each loss, he knows his Meat are one step closer to securing the best probability of landing the top pick in June. Meanwhile, the Sonics, Grizzlies, and T-Wolves (equally disgraceful) are putting out their best 5 every night, for better or for worse.

He is just salivating at the possibility of nabbing Michael Beasley, and justifiably so. It's not that I'm particularly disgusted with Riley's ever-growing infatuation with Beasley, it's just the way he's going about it that disturbs me. These guys (his players) are making some serious money sitting on the bench and getting soft tissue massages after the games. If I were a season ticket holder, I'd be furious. I'd be demanding a refund for all that coin I shelled out to watch this joke of a season unravel. If I'm an Eastern Conference contender, I'm even more furious. What happens if a team gets into the playoffs because they beat Miami's C squad in the 82nd game?

Riley is compromising the integrity of the game with his scheming and careless disregard for competitiveness. His future as a coach is not in jeopardy, so he is doing everything short of throwing games to improve his 2008 roster. Carlesimo, Iavaroni, and Wittman don't have that luxury. For the sake of justice, I hope the 2008 lottery defies probability and the Meat don't get a top-5 pick...

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