Tonight's game between the Raptors and Heat should be an exciting one. It'll be the return of J.O. and Jamario Moon to Toronto along with the Shawn Marion's first game against his former team. The Heat are fresh off of a huge win over the Phoenix Suns beating the Suns 135-129 and Dwyane Wade has been playing extremely well averaging almost 36 ppg, 6 boards and 11 assists over the last week, making a strong push for MVP. The Raps on the other hand are losers of 5 of their last 7 but are moving into the better stretch of their schedule.
I got a chance to do a Q&A with David from Miami Heat blog, Peninsula Is Mightier and got a chance to talk about the Heat-Raps trade, Wade for MVP and an update on our Canadian ballers.
HHN: It's been about 8 games now since the trade between Toronto and Miami, how do you guys like the Marion-Banks/J.O.-Jamario trade? And what was the whole deal with J.O.and his headband?
David (Peninsula Is Mightier):The trade has been great for the Heat in many different ways. For the immediate future, we were able to get rid of the expiring contract of Shawn Marion and in exchange fill a big hole we’ve had at the center position all season (really, since trading Shaq last year) and still get a replacement to start in Marion’s place at SF. Now we have a solid center in O’Neal signed through next season and we will likely sign up Jamario Moon for a relatively low price in the off-season as well. The key to this trade was that it allows us to stay very competitive through the 09-10 season, and then dump A LOT of our salary in order to attack the ‘free agent boom’ of 2010. I’m sure you guys are aware of the infatuation that Pat Riley has for Chris Bosh, and its no secret that he is our prime target.
As for the headband issue…there was a team ‘no headband’ policy in place long before this trade, but apparently it wasn’t as big of a deal as some thought. Coach Erik Spoelstra said of O’Neal ‘all he had to do was ask’. Once Jermaine did ask…the point became moot, and now it’s a non-issue as he is back wearing his headgear.
HHN: I'm sure you've had this conversation a lot but let's say the Heat lock up the #4 seed in the East, do you see Wade as the frontrunner for MVP over Lebron and Kobe?
David (Peninsula Is Mightier): If the Heat should indeed claim the 4 seed, Wade should absolutely be the MVP because the only way they will catch Atlanta is if Wade gives us MVP caliber games every night.
Since the Olympics last summer, I don’t think anybody in the NBA has played better then Dwyane Wade. LeBron is certainly having a sick year, but he has more of a supporting cast then Dwyane. It has become almost a given expectation for Wade to score 25 points a night, his assist p/g totals have been steadily rising despite very low FG% from our interior offensive players, and Wade also plays great defense, often getting at least 2 steals/blocks each game.
He has been playing out of his mind the past couple weeks, which is probably why he’s suddenly the front-runner for MVP in many peoples eyes. Since the All-Star break (8 games) he is averaging 35.7 points/gm, 10.8 assists/gm and 2.7 steals/gm while shooting 55.7% from the field. And this is a time when his team needs him most, as we are trying to catch 4th seed Atlanta for home court in the first round. Miami is 4-4 since the break, so imagine how we’d be doing without Wade.
HHN: How can the Raps stop D-Wade and the Heat on Friday?
David (Peninsula Is Mightier): That’s a great question…one I’m sure many teams would like to have answered. You can’t really stop D-Wade, just hope that he has an off night from the field. Sometimes when he is doubled late in the game he can be forced into turnovers, but that generally only happens when the Heat are coming from behind. The key is to attack him as soon as he gets the ball, which will usually be handed to him when our PG Mario Chalmers crosses the half court line. I wish I had a better answer for you…but as a Heat fan, I’m kinda glad that I don’t! I’m sure you understand :o)
HHN: We like to cover Canadian ball here at HHN, how has our Canadian homies, Jamaal Magloire and Joel Anthony helped out the Heat this season?
David (Peninsula Is Mightier):They both have had opportunities to help out throughout the first half of the season. Joel Anthony has gotten many more minutes than Magloire because of his defense and shot-blocking ability. He’s been on our roster contributing since last season, but his ‘lack of hands’ have keep him very limited on offense. If Anthony could figure out how to be more stable on offense, he has the chance of being a very good backup center in this league.
Magloire has been somewhat of a disappointment, leading us to ‘needing’ to bring in a starting center. During a stretch from early December through the trade deadline, Jamaal was coming off the bench and being asked simply to provide a presence in the paint, altering shots on D and grabbing as many boards as possible. The Heat really had no ‘big guy stats’ and as hard as Anthony and Magloire tried, they just couldn’t sustain the starting center position on a playoff bound team.
Thanks again to David for taking the time to do our little Q&A, check out his Miami Heat coverage at Peninsula is Mightier