The Break vs. The Paint

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

Brian Grant only scored two points in game 1 against the Hornets but New Orleans coach Tim Floyd called him the Most Valuable Player of that game. Why? Because Grant, along with Udonis Haslem, were able to take away the paint, the area where the Hornets were expecting to dominate over the smaller and faster Heat. Yet in game 1, the Heat actually got more points in the paint (34) than the Hornets (28), and a big reason was Grant.

Grant did not have a large quantity of blocks or steals: he had zero of each. He only got seven rebounds. And he turned the ball over once and committed four personal fouls. And he only played 23 minutes. But he did what Lamar Odom would call "the dirty work," making scoring in the paint a difficult endeavor for the Hornets.

Tonight's game will be the first since New Orleans sent Jamal Mashburn home for his comments about the poor medical treatment the Hornets provided him with. Perhaps the removal of his ghost will bring new life to New Orleans; perhaps addition by subtraction will mean P.J. Brown and Jamaal Magloire will be able to do more damage in the low post.

Perhaps. But they'll still have to contend with Brian Grant.

Apart from points in the paint, the other commonly accumulated statistic is fast break points, where the Heat were expected to have the advantage, and which they indeed capitalized on. Miami had 18 fast break points compared to zip zero zilch nada none for the Hornets.

What's slightly discomforting is that the Hornets will likely be able to play better in the paint tonight than last game, but the Heat are not likely to have another 18-0 advantage in fast break points. The Heat only won the last game by two points on a beautiful shot by Dwyane Wade; will they be able to win again tonight?

The Heat's playoff run continues tonight, Wednesday, April 21st, at 8:00 p.m. EDT/7:00 p.m. CDT on NBA TV. The remainder of the playoff schedule is as follows:
1 - New Orleans (79) @ Miami (81)
2 - New Orleans @ Miami, Wednesday April 21 - 8:00 p.m. EDT/7:00 p.m. CDT on NBA TV
3 - Miami @ New Orleans, Saturday April 24 - 1:00 p.m. EDT/12:00 p.m. CDT on TNT
4 - Miami @ New Orleans, Tuesday April 27 - 8:00 p.m. EDT/7:00 p.m. CDT on TNT
5 - New Orleans @ Miami, Friday April 30 - TBA (if needed)
6 - Miami @ New Orleans, Sunday May 2 - TBA (if needed)
7 - New Orleans @ Miami, Tuesday May 4 - TBA (if needed)

Tickets for the second gamein Playoff Series A are available for purchase now. 

Send an emailto Dwyane Wade. He will answer at least one question per postseason round.

With an NBA-best 17-4 record over the final 21 games, the Heat finished 42-40 and landed their first playoff appearance since 2001.

None to report.


The Miami Heraldwrites: Once upon a time, at this very basket, we witnessed the start of Jamal Mashburn's Miami fall. Once upon a second time, amid the same kind of breathless tension, we witnessed the start of Dwyane Wade's Miami rise.Reputations are built this time of year, for better or worse. Who is cutthroat? Who is soft? These are terribly subjective labels, with a lot of gray area between the extremes, but one moment, one basket, one choice, can echo throughout a career. Remember Mashburn at the end of that playoff series against the Knicks? He literally had the big moment in his hands. And he passed. The split-second decision doesn't merely haunt him still. It also made Pat Riley weep at his desk, got Mashburn traded and did nothing less than forever change the course of the Miami franchise.

Steven F. Holder ofThe Miami Herald writes: It was an unexpected statement, to say the least. But New Orleans Hornets coach Tim Floyd didn't flinch when he uttered the following words about the Heat's Brian Grant: ``Let me tell you something: He, as far as I'm concerned, was the MVP of that game the other day. We have a great deal of respect for Brian Grant and what he brings to the Miami Heat.'' What? Not Dwyane Wade for his game-winning drive and basket in Game 1 of this playoff series? Not Lamar Odom for his 17-point, 11-rebound performance? No, Floyd singled out the Miami center who scored two points.The compliment, though, was all about Grant's defense. He and his teammates prevented New Orleans from taking advantage of its post game, which seems like it should be its biggest edge over the Heat.

Israel Gutierrez ofThe Miami Heraldwrites: Dwyane Wade's first experience on the postgame stage came Sunday night, after his game-winning bucket and 21 total points gave the Heat a Game 1 victory against the Hornets. Wade, apparently not concerned if any fashion critics were watching, wore Heat shorts, a T-shirt and flip-flops, with ice bags wrapped around both ankles.When he sat in front of the microphone, the rookie looked straight ahead, leaned forward and said, ``Hello.'' ''Everybody was just looking at each other, so I thought I'd break the ice and say something,'' Wade said, laughing as he recalled the moment. ``When I first walked up there I started thinking about when I watch the playoffs and I see guys get interviewed, and it was just a great feeling.''

Israel Gutierrez ofThe Miami Heraldwrites: Just because the Heat started the regular season 0-7 doesn't mean the 1-0 start to the playoffs has the team feeling invincible.Heat players and coaches are well aware they barely squeezed out a victory in Game 1 and will need three more to advance to the second round. ''I'd still rather be up 1-0 than down 1-0, but it's not as big an advantage,'' Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said. ``We have a long, long way to go in this series and we're well aware of that.''

Ira Winderman ofThe South Florida Sun-Sentinelwrites: In the midst of the Heat's remarkable climb up the standings over the final six weeks of the season, coach Stan Van Gundy noted how each game would be meaningful. In fact, each featured a sense of desperation. A postseason berth was not clinched until a week before the close of the season. Home-court advantage was not gained until 30 minutes after the season finale. Which brings the Heat to tonight's game against the New Orleans Hornets at AmericanAirlines Arena. For the first time in the Van Gundy era, the Heat is not playing from behind.After an 0-7 start to the season and a tumble to 11 games below .500, the Heat enters Game 2 of this best-of-7 Eastern Conference first-round playoff series with a 1-0 lead.

Ethan J. Skolnick ofThe South Florida Sun-Sentinelwrites: This is how different this flexible and fearless Heat edition is than its playoff predecessors, and why it may be more primed for the postseason than most assume.There were 11 seconds left Sunday, and Tim Hardaway wasn't sure what to think. During his time with the Heat, it was simple. The final shot, or at least the final play, was his. Absolutely his. Even if everyone, including those huddling by the other bench, knew it too. "It wasn't hard," Hardaway said by phone Tuesday. "All you had to do was put it in my hands, and I'll make the play. I loved that type of pressure. Just give me the ball." You didn't give anything else much thought. The Heat had no perimeter creator. Alonzo Mourning required someone to get the ball to him. Jamal Mashburn often appeared reluctant at the finish, up to that pass to Clarence Weatherspoon that finished his Heat career -- maybe the proper play, but not the aggressive one.

Harvey Fialkov ofThe South Florida Sun-Sentinelwrites: Only in the NBA can a man 6 feet 9 and 254 pounds be constantly referred to as "undersized" Heat center Brian Grant. While Grant's numbers have declined, his value has soared, especially in this best-of-7 first-round playoff series against a taller, stronger Hornets squad in which the Heat hopes to prevail using speed over brawn."[Grant] does the things that nobody wants to do," Heat forward Lamar Odom said. "He gets dirty for us. He's our nose tackle, our middle linebacker. Brian's a big part of this team no matter what he does."