Kamenetzky Brothers's post on Basketball | Latest updates on Sulia
Interesting response from Kobe when I asked how many teams can play D like Miami: "Oklahoma. That's about it."
From there, Kobe elaborated on why the Heat are so good defensively.
"They're very smart. You guys know (Pat) Riley. You know what a psychopath he is. Statistics. And he plays percentages very well. I mean, he knows the high percentage of Steve (Nash) coming off a pick-and-roll and picking teams apart. He knows the high percentage of leaving me on the backside. So he says we're gonna stay home and take our chances with everybody else."
No doubt, when the Heat are clicking on all cylinders, they become Voltron defensively. They trap pick-and-rolls high and aggressively, pressuring the ball-handler into either giving up the ball (sometimes to a second or third choice teammate) or coughing up the rock altogether. They recover fast after showing. And their ability to close out on shooters is often jaw-dropping. During the game's final minute, Pau Gasol, under defensive duress, passed out to Metta World Peace all by his lonesome, creating what appeared to be a wide-open jumper. No dice. Dwyane Wade bolted cross-court in a blink of an eye, and challenged MWP into a miss.
As Kobe said, OKC may be the only other team boasting the athleticism, smarts and quality defenders capable of harassing the Lakers in similar fashion over 48 minutes. In that sense, an optimist could take some degree of comfort knowing few teams could replicate the problems posed by Miami. Considering how the Lakers kept things competitive, maybe that's a sign of a team truly moving in the right direction. We'll have a better idea after seeing the performances on the road against Toronto, Chicago and Memphis next week.