Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Heat win two straight, look forward to Pacers

After dropping to 3-2 on the season, the Heat are on a two game winning streak.  The Heat have won their last two games fairly easy winning by an average of 9.5 points.  The team was led by the "Perfect Duo" in both victories.  Chris Bosh has yet to score less than 20 points and Dwyane Wade registered a double-double against the Mavericks.  Up next is the Indiana Pacers on ESPN Wednesday night.  It will be the Heat's first appearance on a national stage this season.

The Heat returned home to face the Timberwolves after losing on the road to Charlotte.  Wade led the way scoring 25 points with Bosh right behind at 24.  Bosh didn't shoot well in the first half and finished the night 9-21.  Minnesota became the first team in the past 9 years to start two teenagers, Zach Lavine (5 pts) and Andrew Wiggins (10 pts).  Wade put the finishing touches on the night by splitting a double team and finishing with two hands at the rim.

After handling the T'Wolves, the Heat went on the road to face the rival Mavericks.  The Mavericks haven't won a regular season match-up against the Heat since beating them in the Finals.  Luol Deng had his Heat coming out party in this one scoring 30 points while knocking down 4 threes.  Both Bosh and Wade had double-doubles each have 20-10.  Bosh is an early season candidate for MVP.  Mario Chalmers scored 18 points off the bench while starter Norris Cole didn't score.

The Heat and Pacers will square off for the first time since the Heat defeated them in the playoffs.  Both teams will look dramatically different.  The Pacers lost Lance Stephenson this offseason and also are without Paul George and David West due to injury.  The Heat will have three different starters in the lineup than they had last postseason: Norris Cole, Luol Deng, and Shawne Williams.  Williams has been productive hitting spot up threes.  The Pacers leading scorer so far this season is Chris Copeland.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Heat drop first of season

Courtesy: ESPN
The Heat fell to the Rockets 108-91 losing their first game of the season.  Despite the lopsided score, the game was closer than the final outcome.  The wheels looked like they were going to come off at the start of the second half, but the Heat stayed in it.  After Miami cut the lead down to four at 86-90 midway through the fourth quarter, the Rockets went on a 18-5 run to close out the game.  The Heat are now 3-1 after facing their toughest opponent of the season.

What happened in this game will be a reoccurring theme throughout this season: The Heat struggled to put the ball in the basket.  Houston is an improved defensive team, but Miami went through long stretches where the offense looked completely out of sync.  Mario Chalmers led the team with five turnovers, three of which happened within two minutes of each other.  Norris Cole also struggled failing to record a point.  Rookie Shabazz Napier showed a few bright spots and played crucial fourth quarter minutes for the fourth time in as many games.  The Heat left 10 points at the free throw line shooting just 17-27 (63%).

Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, "the Perfect Duo," as dubbed by ESPN, put together solid performances.  After being named Eastern Conference Player of the Week, Bosh continued his streak of twenty point games by scoring 21.  He also added eight boards.  Dwyane Wade scored 19 points, but had a few mental lapses down the stretch.  He took two ill-advised threes and turned the ball over on an out-of -control play which led to a Houston layup.

After allowing only 17 three-pointers in the first three games, the Heat gave up 17 threes to the Rockets.  The rotations were quick at times, but there were numerous occasions where players simply fell asleep.  Houston lives by the three and they feasted tonight.  James Harden had 25-10-9 and Dwight Howard added 26-10.

The Heat look to bounce back against the Hornets tomorrow night.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Post-Game Playoff Marks - Nets Game One

Courtesy: Fox Sports
Heat win 107-86.. Lead series 1-0.

LeBron James -- 22 pts, 5 reb, 3 ast -- B+
On a night when Kevin Durant received the MVP trophy, Lebron showed the world who the best player is.  The stat line wasn't as impressive as usual, but James's fingerprints were all over this one.  He worked on the low block a lot tonight facilitating and scoring efficiently.  He saw four different defenders in the first quarter alone, but the Nets could not find an answer for him.  Lebron is playing with extreme confidence, and looks to be ready for another deep championship run.

Dwyane Wade -- 14 pts, 4 reb, 5 ast -- B
After scooping up the ball and going high off glass for a fastbreak bucket, Wade got up and the look on his face said it all.  He was coasting through this one, toying with the Nets all night long.  Wade becomes the alpha-male when Lebron goes to the bench to start the second quarter and its where he thrives.  If he can continue to produce in that short span of the game, it will give the Heat an extra boost.

Chris Bosh -- 15 pts, 11 reb, 3 ast -- B
Much like Lebron, Bosh's stat line didn't reflect his true contribution to the game.  He was aggressive offensively which always bodes well for the Heat.  He came alive in the third quarter knocking down his shot from outside and getting to the basket.

The Sweet Taste of Revenge -- B
After being swept by the Nets in the regular season, the Heat got the first taste of revenge in this one proving that they are the dominate team in this series.  The "Big 3" for the Heat didn't have a spectacular performance so look for them to improve in the next few games.  This was the appetizer in what looks to be a pretty big feast for the defending champs.

Miami Heat -- A-
Coach Spo made adjustments before the series even started as he placed Shane Battier in the starting lineup to guard Joe Johnson.  As a member of the Dallas Mavericks, coach Jason Kidd was last to beat the Heat in a playoff series.  Early on, the Nets offense showed signs of that Mavs team.  The ball movement was quick and crisp, but the Heat's rotations were also quick.  They used an unusual balanced scoring night and a 33-23 third quarter to put the Nets away.  Ray Allen scored 19 points, knocking down four three-pointers.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Heat vs. Nets - Round Two Series Preview

Courtesy: upi.com
Round Two starts tomorrow at the Triple A.  There's been much speculation that the Heat could be in some trouble as they were swept by the Nets in the regular season.  The Heat (in regulation) lost those four games by a combined three points.  There will be no nicknames on the back of jerseys in this series and I'm predicting there will be no trouble for the Heat.  My prediction: Heat in 5.

After sweeping the Bobcats, the Heat haven't played a game in over a week.  Last year's Rust vs. Rest matchup went to the Rust as the Heat dropped the first game to the Chicago Bulls.  However, the Heat went on to win four straight to advance to the ECF.  Don't expect the Heat to come out rusty tomorrow night.  They have something to prove against the Nets.  The Heat have used these days off to get healthy and to get better.

We had a glimpse in the first round at what a healthy Dwyane Wade could mean to the Heat.  He wasn't needed as Lebron dominated, but Coach Spoelstra wasn't willing to push Wade just yet.  He averaged just 33 minutes a game in the first round.  However, Wade did average 17.5 points on 49% shooting.  Look for Vintage Wade to break out in this series as he individually has something to prove.

After the first round who's leading the playoffs in scoring?  It's "The King" Lebron James.  Lebron averaged 30 points 8 rebounds and 6 assists in the first round.  He also showed off his defensive talent ranking fourth in steals at 2.25 a game.  If James continues to produce at this level, there's no telling how far the Heat will go.  As Kevin Durant will likely accept his MVP trophy later this week, Lebron will be showing the world that he's the best player in this league.

During Game 7 of the Thunder-Grizzlies, the commentator said, "Kevin Durant needs to use his 3-point shot as a curve ball and use his mid-range game as his fastball."  I agree that Chris Bosh should do the same.  He's proven throughout his career that he can stroke the mid-range jumper as well as drive the close out after a pump fake.  Bosh is shooting an outstanding 69% from downtown in the playoffs, but I think he can be more effective facing up in the post rather than roaming the 3-point line while the Heat will go small to matchup with the Nets.

If the Heat want to make a serious run at a title, they will need to continue to get a significant impact from the role players.  Birdman was outstanding in the first round.  I believe the bench can take on the "Mike Miller" role by committee.  One night Ray Allen could catch fire and the next it could be James Jones.  The Heat look to roll into the ECF as the Western Conference continues to wear each other down.