Miami Heat Confidence Meter: 9.5 (We’ll Take it)
• Well that was exciting. The Atlanta Hawks were shorthanded missing Joe Johnson and Tracy McGrady after Al Horford was declared out for the regular season earlier in the week. The Hawks used those facts to focus on defense and try to be as sharp as possible on all their assignments. The Miami Heat were also active participants in helping the Hawks as much as they could, with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh being a combined 10-31. Chris Bosh could not find his shot, and after he missed a couple, he began to aim his shot and try to be too perfect in his form. The result was perfectly on line shooting, but short nonetheless. That was just not his jump shot on display. Dwyane Wade’s troubles came from a lack of touch, and you can sense that he was playing a bit too fast and his body language was a bit twitchy early on. He lipped out three finishes that were easy layins but His overall floor game was stellar and a huge reason that they pulled this game out.
• The Hawks’ Josh Smith came out and seemed bent on putting up as many shots as he could (12 in the 1st quarter), as he was playing a bit out of control, but was having an effective game. He then seemed to notice the score, and dial it back a bit. That ended his strong run of good play. The Heat made a concerted effort to deny J-Smoove any high post touches, and used Shane Battier, Lebron James, Udonis Haslem, and Ultimately Chris Bosh on him. The end result was an inefficient and non-impactful game by his standards as of late. Jannero Pargo and Jeff Teague in almost a stealth manner, completely dominated and nullified their Miami Heat counterparts in Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole. That has not been the case this year with their matchup. I guess you chalk this one up as a blip on the screen, although RIO and Cole need to tighten up their games, for the Heat to play at it’s utmost potential.
• Dexter Pittman seems to be moving much better than he ever has in a Heat uniform. It is known that Erik Spoelstra is very strict when it comes to conditioning measurables. It could be something as simple as Pittman being “allowed” play due to better conditioning numbers (body fat, overall weight, practice activity). Whatever it is, it seems to have struck a chord with Pittman who is looking good in limited action the last two games. What did not look good, was the twisted ankle he received for landing on Udonis Haslem’s foot. Pittman was later spotted using that strength band and was not bothered by it. You gotta think that he will tough it out on this one, to try to stay in the rotation.
• A Streak I thought would not go down, and one that I actively follow went down tonight. The Heat had gone 455 consecutive games with a three point field goal. They went 0-10 tonight. Udonis Haslem’s jumper with 1:07 left to open a 83-80 lead, was from the same exact spot where he missed in Utah. That is his shot. That is the shot where he is shooting more than 7 percentage points less than on average for his career. The only thing consistent about UD’s jumper has been how inconsistent it has been. On this night, there was the follow through, the pose, the elevation, the slight fade. On any given night, all of that disappears. Let’s hope that he’s found it. The Heat need it. Would make any of the Heat’s several closing unit’s very tough to guard. A guy that has found himself being marginalized as of late, has been Mike Miller. Shane Battier’s stellar defense as of late is partly to blame, but Miller’s inability to solve what teams are doing, is costing him minutes. The Heat are in the lab currently exploring combinations to free up Miller for his shot.
The Heat is home on Saturday night to face the Indiana Pacers. Tipoff is at 7:30 pm.