Miami Heat Confidence Meter: 9.4 (T.C.O.B)
• Dwyane Wade sits out the game with what the Miami Heat deemed a “tweaked ankle”. You know my opinion of these “phantom” injuries. Any slight discomfort will be a reason to sit one of the essential players against an inferior opponent. It is just the way the Heat do things in the Big Three era. Health above all else is the chief concern. This was as professional an effort as the Heat has produced in a while. From the dominance of the Heat front line, to the stifling effort on the perimeter from all of the Heat perimeter players, there was much to like in this one. LeBron James as he is prone to do, will put more of the scoring burden on himself when Wade is absent, but a newly minted rotation that finds Norris Cole on the bench had a lot to do with the continuity of the Heat effort as well. There simply was not a momentum stopper or a lull caused by careless turnovers and poor decision making. It makes a difference. In my opinion, the coaching staff has settled on its guard rotation and Norris Cole finds himself as a situational defender at this point, which is a role that suits him much better at this time.
• Terrell Harris finds himself in the role vacated by Norris Cole, and that makes the Heat a bigger, more athletic team. Most importantly, the decision making takes a turn for the better since LeBron James takes up the slack as the team’s backup point guard. A return of James Jones to playing meaningful minutes must be on cue as well with his 6-8 three point shooting performance. There are enough minutes to be dolled out between Shane Battier, Mike Miller and Jones if no “true” backup point guard is going to be employed. If anything else, James Jones absolutely provides the spacing they desperately need, especially on any second unit which is quarterbacked by LeBron James for the closing minutes of the 1st quarter, as coach Erik Spoelstra is wont to do. It really is as simple as James Jones having a strong rapport LeBron James. For a team lacking scoring punch from three lately, James Jones’ resurgence has come at the right time.
• This was as active as Chris Bosh has been in a long while. His aggressive disposition was a change from recent efforts, and against a very good front court player in Greg Monroe as well. It is always a good sign when Bosh has double-digit free throw attempts. His front court mate Ronny Turiaf was productive on the boards (9 rebounds) and was a deterrent at the rim with his 2 blocks. His activity is on par with Joel Anthony’s, but it his ball skills that has earned Turiaf the starting center spot as of late. Joel Anthony will still see important minutes going forward versus active, scoring front lines, so don’t write him off just yet. The Warden has a role to play. Another player with a role to play is Mike Miller. Miller moved well in his return, and his effort was as high as it has been, but his shot had some rust on it, as evidenced by the hesitant nature of his setup to shoot. Only court time will solve that, and it is as simple as knocking down an open one in the next game to get his shot going again.
• The point guard play was improved by the mere subtraction of Norris Cole. You can do much worse than having LeBron James in a facilitator role, distributing the basketball and running the offense as the true backup at point guard, and then follow it with Dwyane Wade in a similar role. That seems to be the plan going forward, and a preview of what the playoff rotation will look like. As for the front court, much of the same with a heavy dose of Chris Bosh to provide the spacing they desperately need, especially against bigger front lines. When the Miami Heat go “small” it effects every single team differently, but teams that insist on keeping size on the floor at all times are effected the most because it draws their chief rebounders out of the paint, and keeps them in an area where they are susceptible to the Heat’s rim attackers. This was as good a bounce back game as you can get.
• The Heat stays home on Tuesday night to take on Boston. Tipoff is at 7:00 pm.