A victory for nuance, not unselfishness
The NBA Finals are over and I can’t quite believe it. As I realized the Dallas Mavericks had taken control of Game 6 like they had done in no other games in the series, and that this was probably going to be the last NBA basketball played until the labor dispute is resolved, my mood turned bittersweet. It was a great season, and I’m sad to see it end.
Now where to begin with the analysis? Well let’s start with clarifying the story line.
I’ll admit that I was cheering for the Dallas Mavericks and am thrilled they won. However I chafe at the narrative that this was a morality play of the blue collar defeating Hollywood glamour.
The Crowd: Yes! We’re all different!
Man in crowd: I’m not…
Miami’s Big 3 were as unselfish as you could possibly want. They sacrificed money. They sacrificed personal statistics. They played great defense. And they could have easily won the title. When people portray the Heat as a bunch of individuals as opposed to a team, they mostly miss the mark.
Mostly though is a key word. As I wrote about, the Heat have a redundancy problem. Particularly between LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, but also Chris Bosh. These are all guys whose best characteristic is as volume scorers, and they are currently being brought together in a simplistic offense that’s no better than what LeBron was able to achieve without any other stars in Cleveland.
In that sense, the Heat are playing like individuals compared to the Mavericks. None of Dirk Nowitzki‘s teammates are volume scorers, and each of the other 5 key players on the team (Chandler, Terry, Kidd, Marion, Barea) have their own very distinctive strengths. I don’t want overrate how special that supporting cast is, but it is safe to say that each key piece was chosen for they could bring that the others did not bring.
The same simply cannot be said about Miami. LeBron and Wade did not choose to play with each other because of their differences, but because of their similarities, and this is simply not a wise way to build a team.
You’re good, get better. Stop asking for things. Close the door.
This ties in to why I cheered for Dallas. I’ve got nothing against Miami, and I honestly hope they win championships. However, I also want my basketball to be smart. I don’t want a team with primitive tactics that don’t make use of their full potential to win the title.
Partly this is a matter of wanting to have a slightly wiser narrative in place. I don’t want fans or players or the media to think that you can just throw a bunch of scorers on a team and they’ll be unstoppable. And despite the fact that a close inspection of the numbers reveals the wiser narrative anyway (the Heat’s offense was really not any better than the Cavaliers’ was in previous years), had the Heat won people would have run with the “3 stars = championship” theme regardless. Oh, and make no mistake I know how close Miami was to winning. There was nothing fundamental that kept them from a title, they just played a solid team with a really smart coach in Rick Carlisle.
More than anything else though, I just hate watching basketball with guys making bad plays and getting away with it. When LeBron hoists up a low percentage shot and makes it, I know he’s going to be more likely to take that bad shot again. Had the Heat won this title, perhaps they conclude that there’s nothing wrong with their current level of play, and that would be a shame.
I want to see the Heat work on their flaws and improve. I want to see them truly create a world class offense that makes use of the nuances of the game. I don’t know if they will do it, but I do know that the odds of this occurring just got a bit better.