Monday, January 24, 2011

Over the Weekend: Thoughts on Heat, Dolphins

January 24, 2010

Miami Heat: It's Miller Time!

The best part of Saturday's Miami Heat game was not the fact that they ended a four-game losing streak, rather the fact that they won it without Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the court. Thank the basketball gods for waking Mike Miller up from his dreary slumber and letting him explode for 32 points (don't forget about his 10 rebounds and three assists).

That finally gave Heat fans a glimpse at why the organization committed $30 million to the 10-year vet. Now Miller needs to produce on a consistent basis, especially when the Big Trio is fully healed. We don't expect him to average six three-pointers and 30+ points from now on but half of that wouldn't be too bad off the bench.

It's hard to think of a better time in the season for the injury bug to hit the Heat. Winning those 21 games out of 22 catapulted the team to the Eastern Conferences top-tier and allowed them to have some room for error. Not to mention, Miami only plays a handful of teams above .500 in the final stretch leading up to the All-Star Break. This is a prime opportunity for the team's bench to get some minutes and find their comfort levels in their respective roles; it only makes the team better.

On a side note from Saturday's game, Mario Chalmers had a decent showing with 10 points and nine assists, replacing Carlos Arroyo in the starting lineup (was Coach Erik Spoelstra simply playing with the lineups or did Chalmers officially earn back his starting role? Hmm.). James Jones found his groove again from behind the arc, contributing 15 points in the game (he shot 2-for-2 from three-point land). It's nice to see bench players step up in the absence of starters. As long as Miami can salvage points off the bench - even if the scoring is coming from different players each game - the team can begin to dominate games on a more consistent basis.

Miami Dolphins: They Beat the Best (Sort of)

Well the Super Bowl teams were finally decided yesterday and the Miami Dolphins can proudly say they beat both of the teams playing the the big game. That's right, they beat the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Adam Kuperstein of NBC-6 Miami said it best on his Twitter account: "I know what [the] Pitt score says, but we all know who really won." Last season the Fins lost to the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints at home in embarrassing fashion.

Now that we're over that fun (pointless) fact of the day, let's move on to something of actual importance: Miami's future at the quarterback position. The team's options at QB got a little interesting yesterday after ESPN reported that Carson Palmer will ask the Cincinnati Bengals for a trade. Palmer averages roughly 234 passing yards per game for his entire career and has a touchdown-interception ratio of 1.54. Matt Hasslebeck was thrown into the pot of potential free agent QBs a few weeks ago that the Fins could consider.

But is that really Miami's answer to an issue that has plagued the franchise since the end of the Dan Marino era? Two above average veterans past the age of 31 each? Dave Hyde of the Miami Herald made the point that Miami must end the 28-year drought of not drafting a QB in the first-round. Fans and analysts have been saying this for quite a while now but the team's urgency to win and satisfy fans may prove to be the trigger point for this suggestion to actually become a reality.

That places Ryan Mallett, Cam Newton, Jake Locker and Blaine Gabbert on Miami's draft radar with the 15th overall pick. Gabbert has jumped to the top of the QB draft class in the eyes of various analysts but there is no consensus yet. Going for a QB in the first round will be the biggest risk-reward move for the Dolphins, especially since the team does not currently own a second round pick. However, it's been almost three decades since the Dolphins have taken that risk. With this "playing it safe" mindset resonating with the team's recent history of lackluster success, it is clearly time to roll the dice and pray you get lucky.

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