LeBron, Bosh, and Wade
Posted April 17, 2011 - 10:28 AM
All of that led to a 97-89 Miami Heat win over the Philadelphia 76ers Saturday in the opening game of this first-round playoff series.
But behind the win, and the fact the Big Three now boast a 1-0 postseason record together, the Heat remain just where the were when they entered the series.
The same truths stand. The same uncertainties stand. And the answer that matters most -- is this team championship-caliber or not — won't begin to come into focus until they face down the Boston Celtics or, much less likely, the New York Knicks in the next round of the NBA playoffs.
The Heat are better than the Sixers and will surely win this series. Just as certain is Miami's inability to close out games once they've pulled ahead of subpar opponents.
It's as if Miami lacks the killer-instinct gene that seems so apparent in Derrick Rose's Bulls, in the veteran-led Boston Celtics and in Kobe Bryant and his Los Angeles Lakers.
The issue isn't whether or not the Heat manage to win most of the games they fail to dominate despite getting up against inferior opposition. They do.
The issue is what it says about their odds of beating teams like Boston and Chicago if Miami remains incapable of keeping teams like Philadelphia, Indiana and Toronto out of the game by late in the fourth quarter.
"Nothing's troubling at all," said Bosh, who played fantastic and aggressive basketball, scoring 25 points and pulling down 12 rebounds. "We just have to settle down. The minute you get troubled is the minute you get tight and anxious.
"If they jump out to a lead it's no reason to get erratic, no reason to get outside yourself," he said. "We do want to start out better, but if you don't you can't do anything better but get it back."
On that point he's right, and the calmness in the face of such comebacks is smart.
But it's still true the Heat were up 13 with 6:40 left in the game and then, in a flash, a smaller and less talented team cut the lead to one point with 2:03 left. That's close enough that had things gone another direction (like the 39-15 free-throw attempt disparity in favor of the Heat being more balanced) it's Panicsville on South Beach.
"There's room for improvement, and we have to keep that in mind and talk about that tomorrow," Bosh said.
Asked how the Sixers were able to get the game to within one basket, Spoelstra said afterward, "That's who they are."
It's also who the Heat are. Miami is a team so talented it often pulls away. And yet it's also a team so — is the word "soft" or "complacent," or is it just the product of being reliant on only three guys? — that it often allows teams to get in games that should be over.
Here are the things Miami fans can focus on as they look, already, to their likely and critical showdown with the Celtics.
• Chris Bosh played with a toughness Saturday that many thought he didn't possess, maybe at one point including himself. Because since he called out his teammates for the ball and himself for needing to do more with it he has been fantastic.
Bosh's performance Saturday was the sixth time in team history a player has made his Heat postseason debut with a double-double (LeBron's was later the seventh). But it was his relentlessness and his attacking the rim that shows real promise for him in these playoffs.
"I've prepared myself for these moments," he said.
• LeBron got his numbers and played at the four admirably when the Heat went small. Despite an awful first quarter (three points and one rebound) and a moribund fourth quarter (two points on 0-for-4 shooting) the Chosen One finished with a line that speaks to him being statistically the best player in the league: 21 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots.
That wouldn't mean much if he couldn't close, if his inability to finish made all those numbers a bad joke.
Except . . .
• Wade closed for him. He scored five of his 17 points in the final 1:34 as he willed his team away from what would have been a spirit-crushing upset and an equal amount of LeBron-choked talk.
"When the playoffs come, it is like a different season," Wade said. "You get this extra pep in your step out of nowhere."
These are strong signs for a possible deep playoff run for this Miami team. Bosh having heeded his own words that he must get the ball and then be tougher, better, more impactful. LeBron padding his stats and the scoreboard in the Heat's favor. Wade getting it done with the pressure mounting.
That's a potent combination and good news for Heat fans.
The other side of this is the Heat played the Sixers. Not the Bulls. Not the Celtics. Not even the Magic. The Sixers. And still they squandered a big lead and showcased an inability to finish off a lesser team once they'd knocked them down.
This leaves one thing that remains an open question, the big question, the one the Boston series will finally clear up:
• Do LeBron's numbers, Bosh's renewed excellence and Wade's deftness as the clock ticks down mean Miami is good enough to win it all? Or just good enough to build up expectations they can't meet?
Hard to say.
All we know now is the Heat are superior to a .500 playoff team and the Big Three have become a formidable force.
Everything else waits for a second-round series that could answer all the questions that have hounded the Heat since they became the league's most reviled and fascinating team.
what does it mean if you did?
"It means nothing" -Kobe
"Cause, ill run strait through it" -Kobe
Posted April 17, 2011 - 11:19 AM
Posted April 17, 2011 - 05:38 PM
wow, I can die now, I have heard it all.
Posted April 18, 2011 - 11:27 AM
Posted April 19, 2011 - 08:58 AM
Feel like Wade let Lebron handle the clutch time responsibilities in the regular season, but he is going to handle those during the playoffs.
They figured that out against us. How convenient, right...lol. They ran that pick and roll with Wade that is unguardable and Wade took over. Bron was given his chances, but they know that Wade is the real closer.
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