*And if you didn’t get a chance to vote on the Deron Williams/Paul Pierce matchup, there’s still time. Voting closes 24 hours after each matchup, so you’ve got until 2:00 P.M. to make your choice.*
Anyway, onto today’s games.
You know the NBA scouts who completely ignore advanced stats and instead rely on the famed superficial phrase, “he looks like a basketball player?” They were talking about Joe Johnson. He’s 6-7, 240 lbs. He’s chiseled, strong and athletic. He can handle the ball, play some defense and throw it around a bit. His jump shot is picturesque. But something’s missing. There’s a reason why his max contract with Atlanta just doesn’t sit right with most folks. Clearly its something intangible because it’s hard to poke holes in his skill set.
Dwyane Wade’s got those intangibles. He’s ferocious. He’s fearless. When he stares at his fire-filled hand, he inspires terror. The hovering knowledge that nothing can stop him creeps in, ultimately leaving his opponent paralyzed by despair and admiration. But no matter how many times he unleashes his thirsting beast, we’ll never understand it. He’s 6-4, 220 lbs. His jump shot is mediocre at best. He unconditionally refuses to finish with his left hand. Everyone knows when the Manu Ginobili Euro-step is coming. Yet none of these peripheral limitations hold any real weight. Time and time again Wade dominates, and we’re at a loss for words with our mouths gaping open.
When Wade blocked Tyson Chandler in the NBA Finals on multiple occasions, we were once again salivating at the pure athleticism and domination of a man less than eight inches shorter. That’s why my heart wonders whether Johnson’s three-inch advantage will even matter – D-Wade’s heart is just too overpowering. Then again, my brain says it will. And this, really, is a crucial question: will Johnson tap into that extra gear necessary to compete with Wade?
There is, however, one mitigating x-factor: Joe Johnson’s jumper. When he gets it going, we’re reminded why Atlanta plunged into its life savings to bring him back. He hits from anywhere and everywhere. Fadeaways, leaners, pull-ups, it doesn’t matter. You name it, he does it. Whether or not that jumper sees the light of day – we’ll just have to wait and see.
Jay Bilas: “Wade is just too tough to handle in this setting. I think Johnson would have far more difficulty scoring on Wade than Wade would have scoring on Johnson. Big edge to Wade in this matchup.”
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