In a possible and increasingly likely first round playoff match up, the Heat and 76ers went at it last night in Miami, producing a game worthy of an all star spectacle.
The energy and pace of the game has clearly shifted up and we are now starting to see how teams will be running come the business end of the season.
That is most evident in the play of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.
The two perennial all stars have elevated their games to their pre-Big 3 days over the past three weeks, spelling trouble for their fellow challengers for the championship.
This run of form and the growth of a new playing bond between these stars has been timed almost to perfection for Miami, who have battled as much adversity this season as any team comparable throughout the history of the game.
As it has been so many times during the playoffs, James and Wade turned out huge offensive performances last night against Philadelphia, going off for 32 and 39 points respectively. Wade and James both turned out double figure rebounding performances, Wade also adding 8 assists.
Whilst everyone has questioned the ability of Miami to challenge because of their lack of talent and depth at the point guard and center positions, perhaps the most important positions on the team, I disagree.
That was always going to be an issue, but not one that would stop them from challenging. When you have two of the top 3 players in the game, three of the top 15-20, you are going to challenge automatically. The one and only issue facing that team is whether they can figure out how to play together.
Throughout the start of the season James and Wade struggled with the idea of sharing the ball with a player of equal talent, something neither has come even remotely close to throughout their careers. Even up until the All Star break the two still found it impossible to find ways to contribute together, not just through an entire game, but even through one possession. It was constant isolation.
They now have found a common ground in which both players can play their normal games whilst complimenting the other into playing theirs. When at the start of the season only one player was able to score 30, we are now seeing nightly occurrences of both players achieving the feat. More importantly they help each other to contribute big, rather than allow, sit back and watch.
They have only tapped into the potential the two hold between them. When you talk about sports greatest tandems, the first thought on everyone’s mind is Jordan and Pippen. Wade and James have the capability to equal, perhaps even surpass that historic pairing. Maybe not in number of titles, but maybe.
Nonetheless we are starting to see the reality of what we all foresaw on that fateful day in July last year, when James uttered those unforgettable words, changing the landscape of the NBA as we knew it.
Perhaps this is what the Mayans were talking about.