Miami Heat Confidence Meter: 9.1 (Opt in this!)
• What a difference a little attention to detail can make. The Heat made a concerted effort to keep “in touch” with Dwight Howard from the opening tip, and had an effect on the flow of the game, as the Orlando Magic could not enjoy an advantage on the boards. That is pretty much “game over”. The Miami Heat also did a great job of fighting through screens and contesting jump shots. The Heat took a page out of the Boston Celtics playbook by extending their defense past the three point line, and only “showing” a double team toward Dwight Howard. Then on occasion, when they did double, they closed up those doubles well, and were aggressive with Howard when he was still on the floor. This defensive effort was night and day as compared to the last time these two teams met.
• Welcome back Chris Bosh. That was an aggressive start and a good finish defensively for Chris Bosh. He defended Howard competently, and when matched up with Ryan Anderson, he completely erased him. That is what you expect from your all-star power forward. Dominate the lesser players at your position, and play the best ones evenly at the very least. The Heat point guard play on the offensive end was just okay, But it was nothing short of stellar defensively. Mario Chalmers was very good on help defense, and missed only one assignment that I could see. His play on Jameer Nelson reminded Jameer Nelson that he is Jameer Nelson. Norris Cole, who has become a liability offensively as of late is proving to be a valuable member of the rotation with his on the ball defense, which is as good as there is in the NBA among point guards. Cole however will have to improve his offensive decision making, and shooting to be able to hold those 12 minutes per game come playoff time.
• LeBron James had his troubles with his shot, and got into it yet again with Quentin Richardson. All of this was born by what “Que” called some “dirty” play by James in the team’s two preseason meetings. Richardson caught a couple of elbows that he swears were intentional and has held a grudge ever since. A funny anecdote from this player “rivalry” is a term James used to describe Quentin Richardson. LeBron is known around the league for using clever insults and name calling in his trash talk repertoire. That term? He called Quentin Richardson a “ball rack”. I guess that tells you what LeBron James thinks of Que’s defensive prowess. It is interesting to see how easily Quentin Richardson gets screened when guarding LeBron James. While LeBron struggled, Dwyane Wade shined. His play in the paint while challenging Dwight Howard opened it up for the Heat and gave the Heat a paint point advantage. His 14 points in the fourth quarter were just the jolt of energy that the Heat needed to put the Magic away.
• Interesting broadcast from ESPN. Of course, I watched the game on SunSports instead after watching that halftime show where Chris Broussard and Jon Barry wondered out loud whether the Heat had “The Killer instinct” to win a championship. What a bore. No really, I didn’t make that up. So because a 13 point lead doesn’t turn into 30 by halftime versus the #3 seed in the Eastern Conference, there must be something wrong with a mythical trait. They won. Comfortably. They have won 13 in a row at home. They have the best home record in the NBA. Whatever leaks they have in their game, they are fixable, and the big picture goals are still as attainable as they were before the all-star break when they were destroying teams. Remember, for the Heat hate squad, the Heat’s failures are evidence of everything, and their successes are evidence of nothing. Cartoonish. Truth be told, Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy are the only thing worth while on ESPN’s NBA coverage.
The Heat is at home on Tuesday to face the Phoenix Suns. Tipoff is at 7:30 pm.