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NBA Weekly Roundtable 8: Heating Up and Catching Up

Michael Huettner, Annette Irwin, Andrew Seah |
March 8, 2013 | 10:03 a.m. PST

Staff Writers

Stopping Dwyane Wade is the ideal option to beating the Heat (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).
Stopping Dwyane Wade is the ideal option to beating the Heat (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).
There are just six weeks left in the NBA season, and this year's contenders are stepping up as the pretenders continue to fall off to the side. The Heat can't be stopped, while the Sacramento Kings' move north looks like it could be. Plus, that team in Los Angeles is looking pretty impressive lately. 

1) The Orlando Magic gave them more than a run for their money on Wednesday, but the Heat prevailed Sunday afternoon and ran their franchise-record winning streak to 16 games. You are a coach: what kind of game plan would you draw up in order to stop Miami right now?

Michael Huettner: Face it: Miami is a great team with a lot of different options, and there’s no way to completely shut them down. LeBron James is pretty close to unstoppable, so the plan has to be to try to limit the damage of his supporting cast. Teams must keep Dwyane Wade from getting to the paint, and limit Ray Allen and Mario Chalmers' open looks beyond the arc.

Annette Irwin: Coaches can draw up game plans all they want, but the Miami Heat are unbeatable when they are clicking on all cylinders. Sixteen straight wins is not an easy feat, and the Wade-James combination is unmatchable. Teams have to play physical and take advantage of Miami's lack of depth on the bench. It's easy to say "take out LeBron", but he's on a different planet right now, clearly playing the best basketball of his career. 

Andrew Seah: There is not a single foolproof game plan for the Heat. Doubling down on the Big Three frees up their deadly shooters; playing straight up man-to-man defense is akin to taunting LeBron James (and he will make you pay); a compromise between both seems the best bet, although such characteristic passivity will be undone sooner rather than later. Teams have to attack Miami and make them backpedal by exploiting their glaring weakness: rebounding. The Heat are notoriously poor in that aspect and rely on their 'gang' mentality and hustle to compensate for their lack of a true center. Crash the glass, take advantage of size mismatches, limit the Heat to 'one-and-done' possessions, and hope LeBron doesn't go Supernova. 

James Harden and the Rockets are running away with one of the Lakers' playoff berths (Wikimedia Commons).
James Harden and the Rockets are running away with one of the Lakers' playoff berths (Wikimedia Commons).
2) The Lakers have won six of their last eight and have surged back to .500, coming back from a 25-point deficit to defeat the Hornets on Wednesday. But they're still the ninth seed in the West as of Friday morning. Do you see the Lakers making it in, and what team would they pass in the standings if they were to do so?

Huettner: It’s looking more and more likely that the Lakers will make the playoffs.  I think they will get in instead of the Jazz.  Utah’s been struggling lately and it looks like the Lakers will take their spot within the next couple weeks.

Irwin: The Lakers are 11-6 since Nash's return, and could be peaking at the right time despite Pau Gasol still being out with a torn plantar faschia. I think the Lakers are starting to play as a unit, as the chemistry of Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash is improving every game. Nash is starting to play more like Nash and Kobe is playing like he's five years younger. Los Angeles appears to have the easier schedule compared to Houston or Utah, and I foresee them knocking out the Jazz and earning the eighth seed. If they do make the playoffs, they could be deadly in the first round, especially if they get matched up with San Antonio Spurs and a questionable Tony Parker. 

Seah: The battle for the final playoff spot lies in Houston and Utah. The Rockets, led by James Harden's majestic debut season as top dog, are beginning to show that they truly deserve to play in June. The Jazz, if anything, seem the shakier of the two. However, the Lakers are still a game and a half behind Utah for eighth spot. Keeping in mind the legacy and success of Los Angeles, it would be unwise to bet against them. Except this season has been anything but typical for the Lakers. At every turn, there is a trap door. At the end of every trap door, another twist of fate awaits. The Lakers need an unmitigated disaster to jolt them back to relevance. This is that season.  

David Stern has a tough decision to make- is it about the money or the fans? (Cody Mulcahy/Wikimedia Commons).
David Stern has a tough decision to make- is it about the money or the fans? (Cody Mulcahy/Wikimedia Commons).
3) The Kings/Sonics saga took another turn last week. Billionaire Ron Burkle and a group of investors met with commissioner David Stern in a possible attempt to buy and keep the Kings in Sacramento. We're Neon Tommy Sports, not NT Business, but if you were Stern, would you want the Kings to stay in Sacramento or relocate to Seattle and why?

Huettner: If I were Stern, I would definitely want the Kings to move to Seattle.  A change of ownership would definitely be good for the franchise, which hasn’t put together a decent team in years. Seattle is also a great sports town with a lot of passionate fans, and has been hoping for a team ever since the Sonics left for Oklahoma City.

Irwin: Seattle is more of a basketball city with a larger market compared to Sacramento. Just look at who has come out of Seattle: Brandon Roy, Nate Robinson and Jamal Crawford just to name a few. The former Sonics were beloved in Seattle, and would thrive once again with a new arena. Fans had their hearts broken when the Sonics left after the 2007-08 season; they deserve a team again. 

Seah: The Sacramento Kings should stay in Sacramento because they are the Sacramento Kings. The city adores the team and their fans are passionate and very vocal - two ingredients that are essential for any franchise to succeed. The fervent support remains despite the team's recent regular season fodder status. Sometimes heart and common sense should triumph over calculated economic sensibility. But we all know where David Stern belongs on the spectrum. Seattle is too big a market not to have their own team, but that doesn't mean they should rob another community of theirs. 



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

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