1) Listen, any time Wayne Ellington comes off Memphis' bench to hit 7-11 triples and score 25 points in 27 minutes, surpassing his career high by 7 points, you're probably going to lose. Who? Exactly! Miami hung around for awhile, mostly because Memphis missed about 15 one foot layups, but in the end, Memphis just made too many triples (14-24) in a game where Miami couldn't make any shots - 38% overall, 4-15 triples, and 14 missed free throws. I think a few dudes may have hit up the barbecue buffet line one time too many, and I'm not talking about Jax and Tony Fiorentino. Well, we didn't want to have to do this, and it certainly comes out of nowhere, but we can't say he didn't earn it: Let It Fly, Wayne Ellington...Let. It. Fly.
2) This game was, bizarrely, billed as a litmus test for Miami's small lineup, since Memphis is really big up front. People keep talking about Miami's small lineup, as in "can you win a title playing that small?" Ummm, I'm pretty sure you can since, you know, we just did it! In fact, we didn't really take off in the playoffs last year until Bosh came back from his injury and started at center with Battier at power forward, and liberal doses of KJ James playing the 4 as well. That's the exact same starting lineup we are using this year. Did I miss something? Why is this even a question? In any case, the rebounds were even tonight - KJ James made a strong effort on the boards with 10, and Dwyane Wade added 8. That's how Miami survives with a small lineup in the playoffs, when it matters - they have the best two rebounding wings in basketball. The points in the paint, I believe, were in favor of Miami tonight, too - although, I do think this was skewed because Memphis missed so many bunnies. Also, Memphis was able to get a lot of good looks on the perimeter by playing inside out. But that's no different than Miami creating looks off of drive-and-kicks by KJ and Dwyane. Tonight Memphis made the shots, and Miami didn't. I'm sure this won't answer the national basketball media's concerns that Miami is playing too small a lineup, but whatever. If winning a championship didn't convince people, nothing that happened tonight was going to sway them. Some people love to be dunces - that's a constant in life...
3) I hate to do this every game, but I am getting super tight about my Bosh predictions. I thought he played very well again tonight - he battled the mountain-like Marc Gasol and the wide-bootied Zach Randolph as well as he could, and scored 22 points on 8-12 shooting. Super-efficient. But he didn't even shoot a three - he had one clean opportunity early in the game, but instead opted to pump fake Gasol by him in favor of a drive, stepped on the sideline, and turned it over. He had other opportunities to shoot triples, since Gasol was only ever going to come out so far, but he kept putting the ball on the deck and going past him. It was the right basketball play most of the time, but not the right play for my prediction that he'd make 50 triples this season. He's stuck on one at the moment. And now he's tied with "Jorts" (Jean shorts), Josh Harrellson, who came off the bench in garbage time and fired one in. Jesus, Chris Bosh - do you see how easy it is? Why can't you be more like Josh Harrellson?!?
4) Did I ever tell you about the time I met Memphis forward, and former University of Connecticut great, Rudy Gay, in the Buckland Hills Mall in Manchester, Connecticut? It was a few years ago, over Christmas, I was home visiting family, he walked by me in the mall while my kids were playing on the indoor mall playground, and I said, "Hey, Rudy Gay, what's up?" and he said, "Hey, how are you?" and gave me dap. He was with another player on UConn, but now I forget who. The end. Rudy was really good tonight, by the way, 21 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, 2 blocks, and one massive tomahawk dunk. KJ-esque! I love Rudy Gay!
5) Okay, double-standard time. I'm allowed to love Rudy Gay because he went to the University of Connecticut, and I'm from Connecticut - that's just the way it is, I didn't make the rules, that's just life. But it was more than a little disturbing when Heat television play-by-player extraordinaire, Eric Reid, enthused "I like what I am seeing out of 25 year old point guard Mike Conley tonight," and not just because most human beings don't refer to other people by their ages - "hey, this is my wife, the 28 year old cutie that I originally met in college!" It's disturbing because Mike Conley was cutting up the Heat, and particularly Mario "Emcee" Chalmers, with his drives into the lane, finishing at the rim, and precise passing - he scored 18 points and had 9 assists. Oh really, Eric Reid? Guess what? You know what I liked tonight? What I heard out of Memphis Grizzlies tv play-by-play guy Pete Pranica! He was absolutely terrific! Did you know he started with the Grizzlies as their radio guy, then later became the tv announcer? Yeah, it's true - multi-talented. He also spent several seasons as the play-by-play guy for the Portland Trailblazers, working with color analyst Steve "Snapper" Jones - not too shabby. How about this: did you know that he worked on NBC's award-winning coverage of the 2004 Athens Olympics, calling the team handball and judo competitions? I forgot - which Olympics did you say that you covered, Eric Reid? Also, Pete Pranica writes a column during the season on grizzlies.com, and instead of "Kaboom Town," he calls a three pointer "Kerpow-ville!" I love you, Eric Reid, I'm just saying...Later in the game, Eric claimed he was looking forward to the Heat's rematch with the Grizzlies, back in Miami on March 1st. Why, so you can watch Mike Conley carve us up again? Listen, all I could think about was how if we still had Mike Bibby as our point guard, none of this would have been happening...
6) No one reading this blog can credibly claim he or she makes any differentiation between the names Brendan and Brandon. Seriously - you don't even try to keep track of who is a Brendan and who is a Brandon, do you? And why would you, what is the difference, honestly? On this recent documentary called "Being Liverpool" on Fox Soccerrrr about my football club, Liverpool (that's "soccer club" to you rube-ish Americans), at one point Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine calls new Liverpool manager Brendan Rogers "Brandon," and it made me laugh because he was inadvertently making a good point - no one cares about the difference. In fact, I'm not sure Liverpool's manager isn't named Brandon Rogers, and Bobby Valentine called him "Brendan." Whatever. We all know what you do when you know a Brendan or a Brandon, and you need to use his name - you just say it super-fast, and kind of mumbly, and hope it gets by. Even if you're wrong, and he notices, who cares? That my point - no one cares. Are you listening to me? No one cares!
Our next game is tomorrow in Houston against James Harden, Jeremy Lin, and the new-look Houston Rockets. Let's hope that game is more interesting than the one we played last week against the new-look New Jersey Nets. I love saying "new-look!" If you need me before tomorrow, I'll be watching old episodes of 90210 - love that Brendan Walsh! See you tomorrow night, Fox Soccerrrr fans!