Michael Wilbon on M&M: ‘Miami just doesn’t have what it takes to be a championship team’
|06.06.12 at 3:05 pm ET|
Appearing on Mut & Merloni Wednesday afternoon, ESPN analyst Michael Wilbon said if the Heat lose the series, which he expects them to do, they will have to rebuild the team.
“It became apparent literally sometime in Game 3 — more likely in Game 4 — that Miami just doesn’t have what it takes to be a championship team. They don’t have it,” he said. “It doesn’t mean individually they don’t have the talent. … But collectively it doesn’t work. And that’s what’s become apparent. And that’s why the Celtics are going to put the Heat out of their misery tomorrow night.”
Added Wilbon: “If Miami goes out tomorrow night, and I expect Boston to close them out … you have to just sort of deep-six this thing, and you have to start over. You keep LeBron [James] and you figure out what else you’re going to do. And that means changes. It means changes in the coaching office, it means changes in that locker room. You don’t commit to $350 million or whatever it is to get a conference finalist.”
Asked whether he felt the coaching jobs by Doc Rivers and Erik Spoelstra represented the biggest mismatch in the series, Wilbon was unequivocal.
“No question. No question. It’s almost embarrassing. And that happened last year in the finals as well with [Mavericks coach] Rick Carlisle,” he said.
Wilbon pointed to Spoelstra’s inability to get his players to execute as ultimately dooming Miami’s chances.
“Spoelstra can’t get done what they need to have done,” he said. “The other night, in [Game] 4, when you got all these situations where Miami can win that game in Boston, people point out, they say, ‘Well, they aren’t running plays.’ Well are they not running plays because Spoelstra didn’t diagram them during the timeout? Of course not. Of course Spoelstra diagrammed a play during the timeout. Are they executing the play? No. So, whose fault is that? Either Spoelstra can’t get them to, or the players — I don’t think they’re defiant, but whatever the case, this goes back to disconnect. … There’s a disconnect between what they’re supposed to do and what they actually do — what they’re capable of doing, and what they actually do. Do I seem them suddenly putting it all together tomorrow in Boston? No, I don’t. I don’t see any scenario where that happens.”
In terms of the coaching job Rivers has done this year, Wilbon talked about a conversation he shared with Rivers last offseason that foreshadowed the coach’s regular-season strategy.
“I remember being with Doc, I think it was during the lockout, and he jokingly said a 66-game season was too long, he needed a 45-game season. And so what Doc then did, even though he was joking when he said it to me, he was crafting what amounted to a 45-game season,” Wilbon said. “He could have made that move with Kevin Garnett games earlier; he didn’t want to. Putting [Garnett] at center and other moves he made, introducing, spoon-feeding Avery Bradley, and how to get him into the lineup, and other changes. He could have done that stuff earlier, but he knew he really needed 45 games because he wasn’t going to risk getting Ray Allen hurt and risk getting Paul Pierce hurt and going into the playoffs without those guys being healthy. And so it was a balancing act. And it’s a great truly great coaching job.”
As for whether the Celtics have what it takes to win another championship, Wilbon said: “This team should’ve had more than one championship, to be honest. If Kendrick Perkins isn’t traded, to me, the Celtics are probably in the finals last year. … And if he’s not hurt [in 2010], they probably beat the Lakers in that series. If they can go out with one more championship, they see that as what they ought to do.
“Look, everybody else may be surprised they’re beating Miami. Trust me, Doc Rivers and the Celtics are not the least bit surprised that they are winning this series. And they’re not going to treat tomorrow night lightly.”
Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
On whether people in the media are letting Dwyane Wade off the hook: “Yes, we all are. But there is a reason for that. Dwyane Wade has at least earned the benefit of the doubt by being the best player, the MVP on an NBA championship team. We saw it. LeBron hasn’t done that.”
On why Spoelstra said it was not fair to ask Chris Bosh to play in the fourth quarter: “I don’t get that. I don’t get it. … [Bosh] only played 12 minutes and [had] given them nine points and seven boards. Now, he was also minus-13 so maybe Spoelstra thought — and did not want to throw his guy under the bus, which would be admirable — that defensively he was just lacking in a way that he couldn’t help them. And he’s not going to come out and say that publicly. So, maybe that’s it. Maybe that minus-13 is a real indicator for them.”
On who Kevin Garnett reminds him of: “He reminds me of Elvin Hayes. Elvin Hayes was a spectacular shooter. … Elvin Hayes played like 16 years in the NBA and was a complete unstoppable offensive force. And the older he got, he just sort of moved it outside a little but more. They’re both like 6-foot-11, Kevin Garnett’s a better defender, but Elvin Hayes, a Hall of Fame player for his contributions in college and at the NBA level. Kevin Garnett has always reminded me of Elvin Hayes.”