Tonight the Nets and Heat squared off, attempting to shed some light on which of these two teams actually had a shot and which was just hit-you-over-the-head-with-it screwed.
The Nets had been making headlines with Jason Kidd's admission that the team had no heart and the widespread rumors that he was faking injuries while attempting to be traded. Couple that with the fact that Nenad Kristic has NOT bounced back in any way from injury, Richard Jefferson has seemed exasperated and annoyed at teammates, and Vince Carter has been launching more wild off balance shots than Carlos Arroyo could even fathom...and you have trouble.
The Heat, meanwhile, have been making implosion an art form. Riley has called out the players almost nightly, Shaq only tries when his self-esteem needs a boost, and the expiration date officially came on about 90% of their geriatric roster. Even Dwayne Wade's arrival back from injury hasn't been able to do jack squat. The biggest surprise of all is easily that the team is somehow WORSE without Antoine Walker, the Charlie Brown of basketball (granted, the Wolves are substantially worse. Antoine power!)
So with all of these factors thrown in a pot and mixed, who would have thought that it actually turned out to be a very well played game! Wade scored 41 points, Carter had 31, Jefferson had 29, Kidd had 11 rebounds and 10 assists, and Udonis Haslem had 18 points and 12 rebounds. The game was also back and forth straight until the game finally ended in overtime. As Richard Jefferson said, "Both of us needed this one."
So who sucked more? With Kidd actually trying, you KNEW it had to be the Heat, who lost 107-103. At the end of the night, the talent level just isn't there with a team that starts Chris Quinn and plays Earl Barron more than 1 minute in a game.
With this loss, I am officially beginning the "Riley bail watch". Riley has neither the tolerance, dignity, or spine to actually stick around to take the blame for such a crummy team, so in my opinion it is only a matter of time before he bolts unless something good comes along. That "good thing" could be next year's draft. If the season ended right now, the Heat would have the second worst record in the league and a fantastic shot at winning the overall top pick in the lottery. There is a chance they could get a really great prospect in the draft to pair with Dwayne Wade for years to come.
If those pick pong balls fall into place for the Heat, expect Riles to stick around with a grin. If the Heat wind up like Boston with a pick at 5 or higher, expect Riley to 'do a Jerry West' and run out on the club.
It all comes down to how those balls drop (that's what she said).