Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

The Heat Didn't Contain Jeremy Lin; They Smothered Him

Illustration for article titled The Heat Didnt Contain Jeremy Lin; They Smothered Him

Jeremy Lin had his first game that you can't spin as something other than outright terrible, and everyone wants to know how it's done. Sebastian Pruiti took a hell of a look at the possibilities for guarding Lin, and nailed it: the double-team off Lin's favored pick-and-roll. The Mavericks ran the exact same trap last week, but the difference was in personnel. Miami is a great defensive team, and possibly an all-time great defensive team. Almost every complementary Heat player is on the roster for his defense, and when they're going hard (yesterday's first half had the intensity of a playoff game), it's going to be damn tough for any point guard, not just a WunderLin. That's how a shoot-first guard goes 1-11 from the field, with as many turnovers as points.

It wasn't strategy so much as energy. "It was not a specific plan," Erik Spoelstra said, and that's true insofar as "don't let him breathe" isn't technically a gameplan. LeBron James offered only that "we wanted to make guys uncomfortable."

"I can't remember another game where it was hard to just take dribbles," Lin said, and that's the crux of it. He's made a monthlong career out of putting the ball on the ground and going to the basket, and when that's taken away, the Knicks reverted to the Carmelo Anthony isos that were so prevalent in their 8-15 start.


So Lin's human, and he's exhausted by the compressed schedule, and he has off nights, and he can be shut down with a little aggression, and Carmelo ruins the flow, and the Knicks haven't had time to gel, and you can mix and match all of these explanations/excuses for your favored post-mortem today. The Knicks, thanks to the All-Star Game and some odd scheduling, only have two games in their next 10 days. That's time for what's essentially a mini-camp, and if Jeremy Lin emerges on the other side rested and practiced, the rest of the league already has something of a blueprint for defending him. They don't have the Heat's defenders, though, but that's not a Lin storyline. That's a Miami Heat storyline, about how there are very few players they can't shut down. Jeremy Lin is a very good player, but Miami is a great team.

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