The Miami Heat are 4-3 to begin the season with losses to the Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, and Boston Celtics. The loss to the Celtics on November 9th should be the most troubling to the two-time defending champs. It is too early in the season to count the Heat out, but their defensive and motivational struggles need to be fixed.
We all know the Heat are top heavy with talent, and winning for them usually means a great performance by LeBron James and/or Dwayne Wade. The 111-110 loss to the Celtics included 25 points, 8 rebounds, and 10 assists by LeBron, 18 points and 7 assists by Wade, and 20 points and 7 rebounds by Chris Bosh. The Heat scored 110 points against the Celtics, so getting the ball in the basket was not the problem. The main problem was that they were not mentally sharp during the final second of the game.
Dwayne Wade received an in bound pass with one second (yes, one second!) left in the game with the Heat up 110-108. Wade tried to throw the ball down court to run out the clock, but was fouled before the strategy could work. With .6 seconds (yes, .6 seconds!), Wade missed the first free throw. He then decided to try and hit the ball off the rim so the ensuing scramble would run out the clock. However, Wade did not manage to hit the rim, which meant the Celtics automatically got the ball without any time going off the clock. The Celtics called a time out and received the ball on their half of the court with .6 seconds left. Gerald Wallace inbounded the ball across the court to Jeff Green in the corner for a baseline three. With LeBron’s hand in Green’s face, Green nailed the three in LeBron’s face as time expired, and the Celtics won 111-110.
If there ever was a game early in the season to be worried about, it would be this game for the Heat. The Heat essentially had the game won with Wade at the line, and all he had to do was hit the rim and let the clock get to zero. Poor execution of a routine part of the game led to an unlikely loss.
Michael Wallace, ESPN.com NBA reporter, discussed today LeBron’s comments regarding the Heat’s porous defense being responsible for their slow start. LeBron is correct to blame the defense because when the Heat allow over 100 points they have lost each time. However, LeBron’s comments regarding the team’s lack of mental preparation is the true source of their defensive woes. The Heat seem like a team that is searching for the mental edge that allowed them to become two-time NBA Champions. Where was Wade’s edge when he completely flubbed the game with one second left? Where was LeBron’s edge when he allowed Green to beat him to the baseline corner during the most crucial play of the game? Time for the Heat to step up and find their edge.
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