Reservoir; A large or extra supply, a reserve or a place where a great stock of anything is accumulated. The question for the Miami Heat is, how much is left in the tank? Can they keep going to that metaphorical reservoir? Or have they gleaned every ounce of what they possess in their reserve? Wasn’t it supposed to be way easier than this? I mean LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh joining forces? They were supposed to cruise to multiple championships, using each other as crutches in order to elongate the prime of their careers. But, as we know, it’s NEVER easy and that is the reason why so many people have begrudgingly come around on LeBron James. We’ve seen his reputation forged and solidified through the playoff fire like iron in a Pittsburgh steel mill. But, how much more does the man have to give? He has to score, run the offense, post up, play the other team’s best player, be the ONLY physical presence that the Miami Heat have, and then go out of his way to make sure Dwayne Wade gets his. He’s already played more REGULAR season minutes then Tracy McGrady did his entire career(30,665), played 5,954 playoff minutes(22nd in NBA history), not to mention the 2004,2008, 2012 Olympics, the 2006 Goodwill Games and the 2007 FIBA championships. The sad part is that picking up Michael Beasley and Greg Oden elicited excitement in Heat “fans”, like either one of them are going to be difference makers in MAY. In the NBA, more so than in any other of the professional sports, once the principals start to decline its OVER, and uh Dwayne Wade is leaking oil.
15.9. That was the number of points Dwayne Wade averaged per game in the 2013 playoffs . “Oh but he was hurt, he’ll be stronger and healthier this year”. OK, the soon to be 32 year old shooting guard who has spent most of his 11 pro seasons careening to the rim is suddenly going to be healthy after another 82 game season? If you believe that I have some MySpace and AOL stock shares I would love to sell you. But to be honest, the mental grind that the Heat have endured since the big 3 came together in 2010 has been hellacious, and we tend to underestimate how much that will drag them down as they have to dig deep again in the playoffs this spring. So far this year Miami ranks a rancid 27th in points allowed per possession, and the Heat’s opponents have connected on 37 % on a great deal of 3-pointers. This is what happened during the first 20 or so games of last season because the Miami Heat were not prepared to dial up its Super-aggressive defense early in the season, and opponents, increasingly wise to the need for fluid ball movement against the Heat’s trapping style, sliced them up for open perimeter looks. However, Miami tightened things up when it mattered, unleashing that dreaded “another gear” at high-pressure moments.
There’s one MAJOR difference so far this season has been that opponents are terminating Miami at the basket. Which is odd, because the Miami Heat is determined to protect the rim over any other area on the court. Heat adversaries are connecting on nearly 66 %t of their shots in the restricted area, which is the second-worst defensive mark in the league. Last season, Miami never experienced any such prolonged regression in this aspect of defense during its early-season lethargies. However they did display that championship defense in the 4th quarter vs. Clippers when they were blitzing the pick and roll, completely strangling Chris Paul and the Clippers offense.
Not only are the Heat still an awful rebounding team, but they are getting cooked in transition. Like, borderline humiliated. The Heat have allowed 1.28 points per possession on transition chances, which ranks last in the league (per Synergy Sports). It seems unfathomable, but Wade has often neglected to get back on defense after a miss in order to bitch, hold his face, or argue with officials. The Heat’s collective first step has been below its standards, and it seems as though Mario Chalmers gambles for steals in semi-transition every chance he gets, leaving him flailing in the wrong direction and the Miami Heat completely nude on fast breaks.
Ahhh yes, the Miami Heat have been so good to us, the basketball loving public, for the past 3 years, but alas the successful experiment has run its course. They’re not going to win the championship this year because they are going to lose the war with attrition, and you can’t expect LeBron James to carry Dwayne Wade AKA “Tony from Blue Chips” again. They wheezed to the finish line last year and there will be no home-court advantage to lean on this time around, the Pacers and Spurs will make sure of that. It’s not so much that those teams are “better” than the Heat, it’s just that there is a lot of luck involved in winning a championship and will “that” rebound bounce their way this year and will they be fully healthy again, for the 4th year in a row? The last team to do so was the 1984-1987 Boston Celtics where a budding Kevin McHale kept the Celtic engine humming as the 2nd option once Cedric Maxwell got injured and subsequently traded. Learn a lesson. I feel like it may be the Pacers time in the Eastern Conference, but the only real question in the NBA this season is: Do the Miami Heat have enough left in the tank to make another NBA finals run. Everything begins and ends with that. Hope you all enjoy the journey, because I’ll be right there enjoying it with you.