The Heat is on Miami and Mashburn

Dateline: 05/11/97

At midseason, when Miami acquired Jamal Mashburn from Dallas, many people (especially Chicago fans) thought the Miami Heat were going to be a serious threat. They thought that they stole Mashburn for nothing. In actuality, Mashburn has been worth little more than nothing in his NBA career. With Miami, he has barely improved upon that.

In Miami, Mashburn has shown more desire to work both offensively and defensively and it has helped... a little. Mashburn's numbers are still symptomatic of a player who is infatuated by a three point shot that he can't hit. But he has cut down on turnovers upon his arrival in Miami, even getting Coach Pat Riley's go-ahead to handle the point forward role with some frequency.

Defensively, Riley has convinced Mashburn to do the work that defense requires. Mashburn is now one of the many Heat players who have been on terrible defensive teams in their careers. Mashburn's Dallas team was awful defensively during his entire stay there and he was a big reason for that. Alonzo Mourning's Charlotte teams were terrible even though he was the best defender on the team. Tim Hardaway's Warrior teams played little defense. Dan Majerle's Phoenix teams were also known more for offense than for defense. Yet the team's strength this year has been defense, a tribute to coach Pat Riley.

Overall, this Miami team is an assemblage of a lot of underachieving talent that is winning with defense. However, with the Miami deficit to New York at 2-1, it looks like the bunch is underachieving again. Mourning is turning the ball over even more than he normally does. Hardaway's jumper is ugly as usual, but missing even more than usual. And Mashburn has not been the offensive savior some thought he would be.

The Odds

Even though Miami is still about an even bet on New York's floor, Miami's chances of winning this series dropped to 34% with their loss in New York. Miami just can't hold on at home and needs to win one in New York.

Chicago will not lose their series vs. Atlanta. If you don't know that by now, you have a lot to learn.

In the meantime, even though it is easy to count Seattle out of their series with the Rockets, being down 3-1 and headed back to Houston, they still have a 10% chance of pulling it out. In other words, it's not likely, but they have a better chance than Atlanta or the Lakers have.