By Kevin Ding , NBA National Columnist
Bryant, Gasol and the Los Angeles Lakers aren’t even a ripple in the bay waters that the Miami Heat are navigating in search of a third consecutive NBA championship. The teams meet Thursday night, with Bryant still waiting for his fractured knee to heal, and Gasol hoping to get lots of simple post-up plays because he sees the Heat’s lack of height and girth and concludes: “Attack their weaknesses.”
Instead of admitting that the Heat’s consecutive titles in 2012 and ‘13 stand as proof of the ultimate validity of the Mike D’Antoni-crusading concepts of floor-spreading small ball, Bryant and Gasol remain clearly opposed to it.
They have their reasons—one being that they won their championships with a heavy emphasis on post-up play, another being that D’Antoni never came close to winning them that next championship last season.
Although it remains a fantastic mystery as to what would’ve happened with the 2012-13 Lakers had Phil Jackson and his triple-post offense been hired, there’s no mystery about what history shows:
The Heat’s titles sprung from Erik Spoelstra learning—the hard way in the 2011 NBA Finals against a Dallas Mavericks team led by a certain blond outside-shooting big man—that an open floor with smaller players made Miami more of a team.
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