Chasing Down The Latest NBA News
There are many questions in life that I cannot answer. If you were to ask me if blind people think in colors, or if human beings have a soul, I would be ill equipped to answer. And that’s fine. Nobody expects me to know the answers to questions like this. It isn’t a problem if I don’t know if dogs realize they can’t chase their own tail, or if God can make a rock so heavy he couldn’t lift it.
Something I feel I should be able to get a pretty decent bead on, however, is why the Miami Heat can’t seem to find a way to win games when decent opportunities to do so present themselves.
For a good part of the beginning of this season, the Heat looked pretty close to invincible. You may remember this. They had an amazingly devastating transition attack. People on the bench were actually scoring a little bit. Norris Cole looked like he would shore up the backup point guard spot. Many people had them mentioned as possible favorites to win the title.
Then the All Star break came, and we saw how fast things could change.
Now when you watch a game where the Heat are going up against a quality opponent, you see one of two things happen. You may see the team come out looking flat or disinterested, like the one that has come out for the last couple of Sunday games. Miami often seems to pick what games they want to actually play, looking lethargic in many contests where you would think that they would be a little more engaged. Then they find themselves starting the second half down by more than ten, trying to claw their way out of the hole, but lacking enough offensive ingenuity to do so.
Hit the jump for the rest of Jordan’s piece…
Or you may see the Heat coming out looking like they want to play basketball that day, and get treated to a show for three and a half quarters. Then, with the game close, they just find a way to lose. Usually at the free throw line at a crucial juncture, with one of the Big Three missing the shots to tie or to clinch the victory. LeBron James has been guilty of this multiple times this season, but last night’s Bulls game proved that anyone could get in on the action, with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh chipping in some foul shot bricks of their own.
All in all, this hasn’t looked like a title team in the slightest recently. All of the flaws they have been known for are coming back to haunt them, after looking like they just might be fixed for most of the season.
The bench production is still horrible most nights. The back up big men were an issue to start the season, with Dexter Pittman and Eddy Curry battling it out for the title of “Least Useful Player Ever On A Roster.” Ronny Turiaf is certainly an improvement over those two, but he is far from setting the world on fire. After Joel Anthony and Chris Bosh, you get a little Udonis Haslem, sometimes, and then you got nothing. The issues in the backcourt are mounting as well, with Shane Battier shooting worse than he has in years and Mike Miller developing glass bones. Not to forget the fact that the team is putting out a search party for the Norris Cole that started the season. That’s not even the biggest concern though. The bench was always an afterthought in Miami, cobbled together with what they could salvage from other teams.
My main issue is that for whatever reason the Big Three don’t seem to be engaged at all. When the leaders of the team are checked out, what hope does that leave for the rest? When they are locked in, they have been consistently faltering at major junctures. The critical missed free throws late in the game by players who are typically fairly good at foul shots screams “mental weakness” to me. Its almost as if with the playoffs approaching, their heads are too far into next month to take care of business this month.
They may be remembering their playoff run last year with rose-colored glasses, having been able to nearly sleepwalk through series’ against a Philly team that was always cannon fodder, and a Boston team that was banged up to begin with, and quickly lost Rajon Rondo after the series started. They didn’t face an opponent capable of stopping them until Chicago in the Conference Finals. This is not as likely to be the case this year, with teams like the Knicks and Hawks looking stronger than last year, and the old East favorites of Orlando and a just-mauled-you-in-overtime-with-no-help-from-Derrick-Rose Bulls still lurking. Now I could be wrong, and they might cake-walk their way to the Finals yet again once the playoffs start. But the field in the East is getting ever-tougher.
It may be that the team is beginning to feel the pressure of their own expectations, along with the weight of their own flaws. James and Wade have to be aware that with the new CBA, the team’s ability to continue to improve the roster is approaching non-existent, and the window is quickly closing on the opportunity to capitalize on the chance they’ve been given. If this is the case, then it begs the question: how will the team respond? Will they be able to get it together in time to win it all? Or do they cave under the pressure until management is forced to break up the Big Three to restock the cupboards? I’m sure that the entire organization is aware of the fact that if this current incarnation of the Heat fails to win a championship, it would be viewed as one of the most colossal failures by a team ever to capitalize on the talent they had.
There is no doubt in my mind that Miami has a three man core as talented as any other such group in the NBA. But the question one has to ask is this: Is this team complete enough from top to bottom to actually go all the way? Are they mentally strong enough to overcome their flaws and make it happen?
Or will the Miami Heat continue to chase their own tail, accomplishing nothing?
Jordan Akin really does wish he knew the answers to most of these questions. If you know the answers, help him out on Twitter @jakin1013, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.