Miami Heat Confidence Meter: 9.2 (Big Two is enough)
• This time, Coach Erik Spoelstra started Ronny Turiaf and Shane Battier in the starting lineup, and the result was much the same. An early 9-0 deficit and a Heat team that seemed out of sync and not in rhythm. That begs the question of yet another starting lineup change. I am sure after the evidence that is mounting of Joel Anthony being the most effective “Big” in this series for the Heat, and early entrance is in the offing. Another big made his presence felt in this game by the way. Udonis Haslem. What can be said for the captain? The jumper, money. The hustle, pure. The swagger of the team captain rubbed off, and for somebody that does not buy into the intangibles, count me in as buying in big time. This team has that knack, that champions have, but In my opinion it is the collection of talent that when cornered, that strikes out and we celebrate the result. It pays to have those two guys.
• The unsung heroes of this effort, were Shane Battier and Udonis Haslem. Battier with his (of design) defense on David West, where he locked in and denied the entry pass all night, while short circuiting the Pacers offense, every time Coach Frank Vogel called for their double post offense. At one point, it got so bad that the Pacers abandoned the offense and went to a high pick and roll look. That is flat out great coaching and game planning. It takes coaching talent to anticipate your opponent’s sets and then call defenses to stop them. Just a great job by Coach Erik Spoelstra and his staff. No team in the NBA can reduce games to individual possessions like the Miami Heat., and then gear their defense to stopping those individual possessions. You have to love it. If you care about a coaching staff carrying their weight, you enjoy games like this. At one point in the 3rd quarter, Assistant Coach David Fizdale kept jumping out of his seat and calling out the sets for the Pacers. Trust me, that type of stuff breeds confidence in your squad. The players see a coaching staff that much on their game, it trickles down.
• On this recap after game 3, I expressed extreme disappointment in Dwyane Wade, as a man, as a player and as the face of this franchise. I asked for redemption in game 4. There you have it. As predictable as it can be, a bad Wade performance is followed with an example of why this is quiet possibly the second best shooting guard of all-time. His 3rd quarter, (a quarter that the Heat had suffered mightily in the last two games) was a thing of beauty. Danny Granger gets in his face, and Dwyane Wade responds angrily “”N*gga you soft, bring it here (pointing at floor)”, and then after hitting his 6th consecutive field goal, he then shakes his head and then exclaims at Danny Granger that “Your game is not good enough“. It was a target rich environment and Dwyane Wade was just in kill mode. As soon as the game reached the 4th quarter and the Heat had the lead, the game was over. It is a labor for the Pacers to score efficiently in the 4th, and the Heat’s defense makes it that much harder on a limited Pacer offense. Watch that clock and hope for a lead in the 4th. Those games belong to the Heat. Dwyane Wade is back and Danny Granger has caught his attention. You can only rattle the tiger’s cage so much.
• Among the heroics of Udonis Haslem‘s Nine stitches and Dwyane Wade‘s redemption, was the poetry of watching the best basketball player of our generation (Lebron James) do his thing. What a joy it has been to watch that man play basketball. For the haters, you really have to have some pity for them, because they have missed it. Missed his career, this game, all of it. This is a once in a generation player. We understood Michael Jordan‘s greatness as we watched it, but I get the sense that some are taking this man’s talent for granted. This is a player that recognized that a fellow first ballot Hall of Famer (Dwyane Wade) was on his way to more struggles and he sought to get him easy baskets to alleviate some pressure / get his game going. Wade’s heroic effort is owed in part to Lebron James’ recognition of what was going on and his effort to get Wade going on the offensive end. What gets lost in all the narratives and all the slander is how the NBA’s chief alpha male controls the game at his very whim, at his very best, which he was on this night. I beg you, do not take this man’s talents for granted, you can grow old, never seeing the likes of this man again.
The Heat is home to face the Pacers for Game 5 on Tuesday Night. Tipoff is at 8:00pm.