The two consecutive losses away to Utah and the Lakers may have helped put the Heat’s season in a much greater perspective that it was previously.
Chris Bosh’ untimely absence due to the death of his grandmother saw the Heat playing a different style of basketball than they are used to, and it did not suit them.
They were getting up and down the court faster, given they were not giving defences time to set up in the half court, but this was leading to a greater workload on the shoulders of James and Wade, as well as inevitably increasing the turnover rates.
Perhaps Miami’s greatest strength is that if Wade and James cannot get to the basket, they have arguably the game’s best shooting big man (at least behind only Dirk) waiting at 10-17 feet for a kick out, a shot he has made his own. That means that defences are unable to simply pack the paint and put multiple bodies on James and Wade because Bosh, and at times Haslem, can kill them with mid range jumpers. Miami also have one of the finest three point shooting arsenals in the NBA.
The loss to the Lakers on Sunday epitomised Bosh’s worth to the team, something that we all, including myself, had forgotten. Whilst he is only the third best player on the team, he is the most important to what they do. He allows Wade and James the freedom to pick and choose their spots, roam the perimeter and set up in the paint. His constant presence lingering inside the three point line gives coaches a much tougher time than attempting to stop Wade and James, which is certainly saying something.
The Lakers, with their obvious size advantage, did not have to do much to frustrate Miami on the defensive end. The Lakers stuck their two 7 footers in the paint and had their wing players rotate over to ensure LeBron and Wade were not going to be able to get to the cup or to the line. The game plan from LA was simple, make the role players beat you. It is a goal most teams would attempt to set out to do and most would fail, but with the enigma that is Chris Bosh missing, it was much easier to achieve. The Lakers made the Heat give shots to Haslem, Pittman, Howard, Battier and Miller they would not normally take. This was because they forced the ball out of the hands of Miami’s wingers by completely sealing the lane.
It would not have been nearly as effective had Bosh been on the floor, that is why I dismissed the game as any real statement by the Lakers. That was much closer to Cleveland Cavaliers basketball than Miami Heat basketball.
The Heat avenged their defeat Sunday night with a blowout at home against the Nets. It marked Miami’s 10th straight home win, dating back to January 27.
Miami led by double digits in every quarter, barely breaking a sweat as the Nets defense fell to pieces at the slow murder of the Heat rotation and movement.
LeBron James finished with 21 points on 9/11 shooting, 2/2 from the line and a filthy bank three point shot from half way at the buzzer of the third quarter. He also added 9 rebounds and 6 assists in just 30 minutes. People have said he has decreased in his ability to register triple doubles, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. If you average out some of his numbers to his normal minutes, you’ll see plenty of triple doubles. It is only because Miami blow so many teams out, that he rarely gets a chance to complete the feat. Also Spoelstra’s rotation of starting without LeBron in the fourth quarter would have an effect, especially if the Heat make a run.
Bosh returned with 20 points in 24 minutes, scoring 18 of these in the first half. Wade limped off the court before the half after suffering an ugly sprained ankle. He is questionable for tomorrow night’s game at home to Atlanta.
Keys to the game? Miami shot nearly 60% from the field and from three, they shot 90% at the line and had 48 points in the paint.