December 26, 2010 12 Comments
The Heat, the Heat are who we thought they were.
Remember those championship expectations that veered way off course in the month of November?
Well, they’re back.
Oh, how winning cures all that ails. We are no longer speculating Pat Riley’s seemingly imminent return to coaching or talking crazy about a possible Chris Bosh trade. There is no more talk of Lebron playing too many minutes, Erik Spoelstra not being Wade’s guy, Lebron acting unprofessional or the team not getting enough “chill time.”
The Miami Heat have started winning like so many thought they would prior to the season. Although their 12 game winning streak was snapped this week by the Dallas Mavericks, the Heat have undergone a massive transformation as a team in the last month and on Christmas day the nation saw the force that the Heat can be as they spanked the Lakers 96-80.
The Heat’s biggest problem and the reason that is supposed to stop them from winning a championship was their lack of length up front. They are supposed to be soft in the paint but yesterday their hard team defence made up for what they are short of in the middle.
Yesterday afternoon, the Heat were not giving anything easy to the Lakers and for the most part they didn’t allow easy buckets to the Lakers’ best players. They have two wing men that can play great defence when they put their mind to it and that was put on display yesterday when Wade was able to shut Kobe down to an extent that many other players cannot attest to.
However, Chris Bosh is still blocking shots at the lowest rate of his career by a fair margin and rebounding at his lowest rate since his rookie season. Until Bosh proves that he can continually rebound and block shots at a higher rate he will continue to hold the reputation as that soft as a marshmallow big man. With that being said, Chris Bosh is improving on the defensive end and his rebounding is steadily improving. He did a solid job on Lamar Odom yesterday while also grabbing 13 rebounds, which was made easier by the Lakers missing a massive amount of shots. With regards to the Odom matchup he is able to handle that one better compared to other back to the basket big man. Odom generally possesses a great advantage in his footwork on the perimeter, but that is somewhat negated when facing Bosh as that is a quality that Bosh possesses too. If the Heat do indeed end up facing the Lakers in the NBA final, I believe that the Odom-Bosh matchup will be the one that decides the series.
On the offensive end, the Heat do not look like 5 separate guys on the floor anymore. They have begun to play like a cohesive unit rather than the stagnant isolation, screen and roll team that they were not too long ago. Their offence still revolves around isolation and screen and roll plays, but the difference is the movement that they are creating out of those plays. The ball is moving more out of screen and rolls and players are learning where and how to move without the ball. Moreover, Dwyane Wade and Lebron James appear to have finally made some concessions for each other in sharing the offensive load.
In relative terms Bosh still isn’t seeing nearly the amount of touches on offence as Wade and Lebron, probably for a good reason, but I still think that the offence should be run through Bosh a bit more. Bosh has become the beneficiary in receiving easy baskets off of wing player penetration, nevertheless running a few more plays through him in the offence could add just a different dynamic to their offence.
Miami shot a decent percentage as an entire team from deep yesterday but isn’t it just a little scary that other than Lebron they shot 4-19 from beyond the arc as a team?
Sure, Lebron probably isn’t shooting 5 of 6 from 3 on a nightly basis but James Jones also isn’t going 1 for 6 on most nights either. There were a lot of open looks that weren’t hit yesterday and when Mike Miller gets back into the groove the Heat are going to be just that much more dangerous.
Many thought that the trio of players teamed up in Miami to avoid the difficulty and adversity that goes along with winning a championship but as we have all seen the Heat have already faced some real hardship.
It has to be a good sign for the team that they were able to overcome this early difficult and persevere to the point where they are at now. It has sunk in the players that no one is going to hand them a championship and nothing is going to be easy from here on in.
People say that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. At least as a team, things got tough and the Miami Heat have sure gotten going.
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