NBA / Mar 8, 2010 / 11:00 am

No Joke: Q-Rich is shooting Miami into contention

Pick the punchline. Either way, Quentin Richardson had been reduced to a joke going into this season. Having been traded four times in the summer of ’09 before finally landing in Miami, Q-Rich was being treated like that not-quite-cute but available girl who’s “friendly” with everybody on your dorm floor: Useful for what you need at the moment (to dump a bad contract, to free up cap space, etc.), but nobody you feel obligated to claim and nobody you wouldn’t dispose of easily.

After all, what did Richardson really bring to the table? At 29 years old, he had a fat expiring contract ($9.3 million), an increasingly fat waistline, and was basically a go-stand-in-the-corner shooter — his time with the Knicks having turned him into something closer to Mark Blount than the Mark Aguirre potential he once had coming out of Chicago.

But Q-Rich got in shape during the offseason, won the starting small forward job with the Heat, and lately has been a key contributor in Miami’s playoff push. In three games last week, all wins, Q-Rich averaged 20.6 points on 53 percent shooting from the floor, bumping his season stats to 8.6 points per game on 42 percent shooting. His shots are falling and he’s got an extra spring in his legs. Against Golden State, the Heat announcers said Q had only had 11 dunks all season going in, but he threw down at least two during that game. He did his best Glen Rice impersonation against the Lakers, sticking seven threes for 25 points. Then on Saturday, Richardson dropped five threes and 22 points in a win over Atlanta.

The Heat have one constant: Dwyane Wade. Over the past two seasons, the struggle has been finding the right complementary pieces who will consistently play at a high level alongside their superstar. Michael Beasley (15.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg) has been more up than down in his second pro season, but he’s still prone to coasting and going invisible for stretches. Jermaine O’Neal had a great month of February (15.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.9 bpg), but he needs to stay healthy — J.O. hurt his knee in the first half of Saturday’s game and missed the entire second half. Rafer Alston had some good games since signing with Miami mid-season, but he recently got benched, then drew an indefinite suspension after going AWOL this past weekend. Mario Chalmers has also been in and out of the rotation following a solid rookie season, and Daequan Cook‘s PT has similarly dropped after what seemed like a breakout season last year.

It only takes a few, however. If Beasley and O’Neal keep producing throughout the rest of the regular season and into the playoffs, and Q-Rich continues his hot streak, the Heat will be in good shape. Currently they’re in 7th place in the East, one game behind Toronto for 6th place. That one game will very likely be the difference between facing Cleveland or Orlando in the first round, and facing Boston or Atlanta. Obviously, the latter scenario is preferable to the former. (Although Miami is 0-3 against the Celtics this year, Boston looks ripe for an early exit.)

But the first step is getting in. Once they’re in the postseason, Miami has a puncher’s chance against any of the conference heavyweights simply because they have one of the best players in the world. And if Q-Rich gets out there and starts landing haymakers of his own, don’t be surprised to see the Heat pull off an upset.

How far can the Heat go in the 2010 playoffs?

More Miami Heat stories:
NBA Trade Deadline Losers
The Other O’Neal Who Will Help His Team in the Playoffs
Michael Beasley Can Still Be a Top-10 Superstar

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  • ToAn

    1st round exit…no way they are beating cavs or orlando (simply better + home court). atlanta wins because of their home court advantage. i can see a puncher’s chance against celtics IF one of the BIG 2 (allen and pierce) is hurt or seriously banged up (realistic). i mean KG is already banged up and slow and his defense is really not that good anymore and i don’t think he will be moving better in the playoffs (it could get worse). but

  • tl

    i hope miami keeps q-rich next season.

  • rjryan83

    Who else thinks he’s a Ken Griffey Jr. lookalike?

  • sh!tfaced

    Unless he combines with Wade and become a 50 or 60 point a night tandem, still a first round casualty at the most.

  • Dan

    I think they can challenge anybody in the east, but wont do more than maybe get to the second round, which isn’t bad. The team in a whole is just too jackle and hyde. Its baffling :/

  • Blue

    the heat actually has more of a problem with the lower tier teams in the east than the top. but, if they bring their ‘a’ game, they can produce an upset for sure. i hope they take care of the cavs in the first round.

  • Dan

    @ToAn

    If you watched the heat at all atleast the regular season so far, home court or road it hasn’t mattered much they win (or lose) where ever they play, I wouldnt be worried about home court with those guys , they played cleveland tough in all the series but lost at the end, beat orlando i think a couple times lost close games to boston and beat atlanta in the series. They have a good chance to get to the second round atleast, but it depends on which miami heat shows up.

  • Dan

    @ToAn

    If you watched the heat at all at least the regular season so far, home court or road it hasn’t mattered much they win (or lose) where ever they play, I wouldnt be worried about home court with those guys , they played cleveland tough in all the series but lost at the end, beat orlando i think a couple times lost close games to boston and beat atlanta in the series. They have a good chance to get to the second round atleast, but it depends on which miami heat shows up.

  • JAY

    @Dan

    Are you serious? You think they can beat Atl, Cle, and/or Orlando in a 7 game series?? Get real. Maybe any given night during regular season… there’s no way they could win 4 playoff games against those 3 teams. Playoffs are a whole different monster. The big 3 east teams are all playoff proven teams and they’re hungry. Mia will get swept if they face any of the big 3. Hopefully they draw a Boston matchup. It’s the only way the can advance to second round.

  • RC

    I remember Q Rich averaging almost close to 10 rebounds a game in Phoenix when they use to have Joe Johnson, Matrix and Him with Nash and Amare. Those days are long gone. Miami doesnt even ask for anything except for him to hit his 3 pointers consistently and maybe play decent defense. I hope he continues to contribute. Wade is doing everything to keep Miami afloat and the way he willed them into beating the Lakers last week is no joke!

  • JAY

    @Dan
    “If you watched the heat at all at least the regular season so far, home court or road it hasn’t mattered much they win (or lose) where ever they play, I wouldnt be worried about home court with those guys”

    I can see by this statement that you don’t realize the difference between regular season and playoffs. Being able to hold down your home court is HUGE in the playoffs. It matters. Another record that matters is your ability to win on the road. Miami is barely .500 in both home and road records. Sorry to bust your bubble but that doesn’t bode well for the Heat.

  • Dan

    Jay I definitely think they can beat those teams, but I am not saying they will. Miami is too up and down to say anything for sure. I understand the playoff atmosphere you do remember miami and atl series last year? what makes you think it cant go miami’s way this yr if we play them.

  • JAY

    @Dan
    “I understand the playoff atmosphere you do remember miami and atl series last year? what makes you think it cant go miami’s way this yr if we play them.”

    I could see your point if this was the same Atlanta team as last year. Sadly, for Miami, the Hawks have grown while Miami is the same… both personnel-wise and maturity-wise.

  • Dan

    Thats true Jay, Homecourt makes a difference, I do understand that and although its mostly a negative the fact they haven’t won much on the road I guess the one positive I can take out of it is that fact that they play the same wether its home or not again I know thats a bad thing because of the losses. That statement I said you dont think that them being able to win wherever makes a difference? you think just because its the regular season that can’t translate to playoffs? didnt they win in atl last year?

  • Dan

    Listen man im not trying to sound like a blind fan, because im not. I know what miamis shortcomings are this same atl team we’ve beaten 2 out of the 3 times we played. So that amounts to what when it comes playoff time, nothing? yes atl is different, yes the playoffs are different but a win is a win and im saying is that if we can beat them in the regular season then we have a chance. Dont make it sound like Im saying miami is about to go juggernaut turn it on and demolish everyone, Im saying if they play like I’ve seen them then they have a chance.

  • JAY

    Dan, i’m not implying that your a blind fan. Nor am I trying to make you sound like your saying MIA will go HGH on teams.
    Just in my mind, against the Big 3 east teams, there’s no hope. I’m trying to understand how you can say that. That’s all.

  • Dan

    because there are so many factors that can go into it. Miami has shown they can at the very least compete with these teams. Aside from the last game we played orlando in which we lost by I think 10 points, Miami has competed with each Cleveland, Orlando and Boston. I just think they have a chance its a 7 game series, Orlando has a lot of new pieces(not saying they havent gotten it all together) Boston looks very mortal compared to 3 yrs ago. Last yr against orlando the players on cleveland didn’t step up the way people thought they would. Dont get me wrong, again I know miami has a world of problems like you said the playoffs are different, but competing against teams has to mean something even come playoff time doesnt it?

  • JAY

    Yes, Boston looks very mortal. That why I refer to the Big 3… not 4. You make some good points. 2-3 balls bouncing their way they definitely could have beaten Cle and Orl. It’s a longshot but they do have a shot at advancing.

    One thing that concerns me about MIA is that Wade carries soooooo much of the load. And even when someone else is having a good game, it opens up for them because of Wade. With no other playmakers, it’s easy for a top-tier team to attack their weaknesses. Especially over 7 games.

  • Dan

    Yea you are right , last year in the atl series you can see wade kind of called it quits, and thats the reason why I havent mention him. If the team the miami heat team comes to play like they have in the wins this season. If they leave it all up to wade , then we have no chance. One man cant do it all. ask lebron last yr. Although Kobe got the mvp, pau gasol was in my opinion just as important last yr in the finals.

  • JAY

    I can’t agree more about that Gasol statement. Arguably, the only person who won a ring single-handedly was Hakeem. All he needed was the rest of his team to be consistent and he did the rest. Elie, Cassel, Kenny Smith, Thorpe, Horry all played their parts but let’s be real… those two championships were all Hakeem. I’ll never forget how he absolutely shredded Shaq’s Magic, and the reigning MVP David Robinson.
    MJ played a part in his championships as well… he retired.

  • s.e.

    I’ve been impressed with Q-Rich. He would be a good piece on what should be a contending team when the free agent season is over.

    The Heat are sometimes a joy to watch, other times it’s painful and frustrating. There’s just no consistency.

  • chief youngblood

    always loved q-rich , who else do you have to root for in miami besides d-wade , i mean i guess you have arroyo the greatest puerto rican player of all time .

    but he ain’t as cute as q-rich

  • Dan

    chief , beasley has promise he may be inconsistant but the guy has promise. Jay lol, I guess all things must come to an end.

  • Sporty-j

    The heat can beat the Celtics and the Hawks in a first round series. They had boston beat, L.A. beat, and Cleveland beat twice which means that they can compete with the best if the other players show up because we know that D.Wade will show up. They are 3-1 against Atlanta and Boston does not scare anybody this year. The key to the Heats success is Q.Rich. If he can keep teams honest with his 3 point shooting. D.Wade A.K.A. Usain Bolt A.K.A Devin Hester can make a lot of noise in the playoffs and a lot of teams in the East will want to avoid them this season because of 1 man. Just ask Atlanta… The 3 position is what hurt the Heat last year against Atlanta and when Wade would kick it out to D.Jones or whoever was playing the 3. They would not knock down shoots which allowed Atlanta to get smoother Wade in that series even though he was 1 man wrecking crew and let somebody else bet them in game 7. Again Q-Rich is the Heat biggest X-factor to make som noise…