March 9th, 2010: Miami Heat vs. Charlotte Bobcats

9 03 2010

Dwyane Wade

With Alston out indefinitely, Arroyo is now the undisputed starter on this team.  More importantly, Miami is 9-7 when he starts.

Miami seems to start every game feeding it down low to Jermaine O’Neal.  Luckily in this one, he established himself in the paint early on.  He was extremely aggressive and attacked the paint relentlessly.  J.O. needed to step up in this one in order to match up with the lengthy Bobcats.

After being crowned Eastern Conference player of the week, Wade appeared to be a man on a mission.  The runner up to the MVP last year has returned and is rising to the occasion down the stretch this season.  In this one, it was as if he was trying to put on a show for MJ which was sitting courtside.  He had 25 points through three quarters but could not continue his dominance in the 4th.  Wade finished with 27 points.

Richardson continued his hot streak and nailed two three’s in the first quarter.  Lately, he has been a model of consistency.  With Q-Rich playing at this level, the Heat are very much capable of picking up a “W” against anyone in this league.

Wade and Beasley are starting to develop a much needed chemistry that is vital to this team’s success in the long run.  The camaraderie continued over from the Hawks game and the two connected on an alley-oop in the first quarter.

The Heat shot 55% in the opening period and took an early 30-20 lead, led by a game high 13 points from Dwyane Wade.

When Wade took his traditional rest after the first, the bench players kept their foot on the gas pedal and did not let up.  They maintained the double-digit lead and showed tremendous grit.

The Zone defense held the Bobcats to 39% shooting in the first half.  It would have been even lower if not for the Heat letting Charlotte cut the deficit to single digits right before the half.  Throughout this season, the Heat has consistently let other teams go on runs at the end of periods.  In this game, Stephen Jackson provided the spark and took 11 points into the locker room.

At the half, Miami lead Charlotte 48-39 and came out with the energy it needed to in this game which held major playoff implications.  Wade led the team with 17 points and the team shot 46%.

Once again, Beasley’s screens are either not effective or there is something going on between him and Arroyo.  He rarely ever gets the ball back after setting a pick.  There were numerous times when Beasley was wide open and didn’t get a touch. For all of the heat Beasley takes for “chucking,” it is worth mentioning he only took three shots in the first half.  However, the second half was a different story.

Beasley was active on the boards tonight, he finished with nine boards.  He also was aggressive and drove the ball to the basket.  Yet again Beasley might make another appearance on Sportscenter with his ferocious throw down in the third quarter.

Chalmers controlled the tempo defensively in the final quarter and caused several turnovers.  Now that Alston is away from the team, he is now expected to perform at a high level every night. 

The Bobcats regained the lead for the first time in the game since they held a 6-4 lead in the opening period when Raymond Felton nailed a three-pointer with 3:30 left in the game.  D.J. Augustin and Felton really burned the Heat in the fourth.

What was once a 15 point Miami lead tuned into a 78-78 tie with two minutes remaining.  We were all expecting a dog-fight between two teams competing for the final few playoff spots and that is exactly what it turned into. 

Down the stretch, Charlotte smothered Wade defensively and unlike the previous three games, the role players could not capitalize.  Haslem missed a 20 foot jumper and Wade missed a three-pointer in the final minute that would have knotted up the score.  As a result of this game, the Heat lost the momentum gained from their previous three game win streak and the race for the playoffs got a whole lot tougher.





March 4th, 2010: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Miami Heat

4 03 2010

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Kobe and D-Wade as teammates on Team USA

Miami Heat vs. Los Angeles Lakers.  The battle also known as Kobe vs. D-Wade.  Although the past few years the Lakers have undeniably had the superior team, the past three games between the two ball clubs have been decided by merely six points.

Arroyo getting the start shows Spoelstra staying true to his “earning your playing time” strategy.  However, the sad truth is that this may be one of the only teams in the NBA where he would get a start.  Just a short year ago, Arroyo was lacing them up in a different Eastern Conference: Israel.

Two good looks for Michael Beasley resulted into two misses.  He has to stay mentally tough in order to break out of this funk.  He nailed a long two shortly after but needed a couple more of those in order to really breakout.  Once again, he didn’t warrant any playing time at the end of the game.

It seems that whenever Beasley sets a screen he rarely gets the ball back.  This all is a result of inconsistent mediocre play at the point guard position. 

When the Heat plays on national television D-Wade always turns it up a notch.  He is a player that naturally shines in the spotlight and it is a shame to waste some of his prime years on teams hovering around the .500 mark.  He came out of the gates extremely aggressive and got to the foul line four times in the opening period.

Quentin Richardson had eight early points and continued his streaky Miami Heat tenure.  He is capable of scoring either 20 or 4 points on any given night.  He had seven three-point shots tonight and was on fire.  He finished with 25 points when things were all settled.

Although trailing by a point after the first quarter, it was overall a success for Miami because other players that are not named “Wade” hit some key shots to maintain pace with the champs.

Every positive contribution Lamar Odom adds to the Lakers has to be bitter-sweet for any Heat fan to endure.  It is hard to dislike Odom because of what he contributed to Miami in the 2003/2004 season, but the fact that he was close to returning back this season is hard to deal with.  He is an asset that would have thrived in Miami.   

Once again, Jermaine O’Neal’s jump shot looks silky smooth.  For a big man with injured knees, he has more than held his own this season.

In the Second quarter, the Heat yet again went to a lineup where it played two of its point guards in Arroyo and Chalmers.  Although the group kept pace with Los Angeles, why not use this time when Wade is on the bench to get Beasley some minutes.  The young man is going through a slump and all it takes is a couple of shots to get him back on the right track.  The Heat are a much improved team when it gets valuable production out of its former number two overall pick.

Ron Artest is a defensive monster.  His length caused problems for Miami and forced the Heat into several turnovers in the early going. 

In the second quarter, Wade had an increased difficulty driving into the paint as a result of the Lakers length. 

There were 9 ties and 22 lead changes in the first half between the two teams; the matchup lived up to the hype throughout the first two.  This game ended up resulting in the most lead changes in the NBA this season.

The put-back dunk by Beasley at the 10:51 mark in the third quarter likely will be shown on Sportscenter later this evening.  The technical foul called on Beasley following the play was not all a bad thing because it was good to see some emotion from the young player.  He let out a great deal of frustration as a result of being put in Coach Spoelstra’s dog-house.

Wade was effortlessly dishing out assists tonight.  He displayed a sense of trust in his teammates and it resulted in 14 assists.  Wade had his thirteenth double-double of the season.  To put things in perspective, Bryant only has five of those with teammates that are named Gasol, Odom, Bynum, and Artest.

There was a Jamaal Magloire sighting in the third quarter.  It is an enigma as to why he doesn’t get more playing time when the Heat play against larger teams such as these Lakers.  Although Joel Anthony has blocked a good number of shots this season, Magloire is simply a bigger body and can wear down the opposing team’s centers when banging down low.

The Heat led 74-68 going into the final quarter.  It is amazing how the team that is capable of playing toe-to-toe with the defending champions is also capable of almost being upset by a Golden State Warrior team that only dressed eight players; two of which spent time in the D-League this season.  If the Jekyll and Hide novel was an NBA basketball team, the story would without a doubt be the Miami Heat.

Down the stretch, Carlos Arroyo nailed some key jumpers.  He needs to continue to be the starter on this team.  When his shot is falling, the offense seems to run a lot more smoothly.  He finished with 17 points and 5 assists.

After withstanding major jabs to one another through four quarters, a jumper by Kobe Bryant sent the game to overtime tied at 99-99.

When it came down to winning time, it was Kobe vs. D-Wade as everyone expected.  Both superstars tried to will their respective teams down the stretch but only one prevailed.  Wade was aggressive and nailed shots that ranged from floaters to three-pointers towards the end.  Jermaine O’Neal drew a key charge by Kobe late in the game that allowed the Heat to gain some key breathing room.  Wade and Miami got revenge from the devastating loss they suffered to the Lakers in Los Angeles earlier this season.  Wade finished with 27 points.

The Heat needed a defining victory upon which they could springboard off of and ride a wave of momentum into the NBA Playoffs.  This thrilling overtime victory over the defending champions certainly has the potential to fill that need.





February 23rd, 2010: Miami Heat vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

23 02 2010

                      

 With Wade out, Beasley is forced to become a number one scoring option.

Jermaine O’Neal looks healthy.  Although the results aren’t always there, his effort does reflect the fact he is in a contract year.  He was on tonight.

The Heat look lethargic and unmotivated at the start.  A team in the midst of a playoff race needs to come out with a greater sense of urgency than what they showed tonight.  That falls on the shoulders of the coaching staff.

Michael Beasley was active defensively at the start. However two early fouls limited his minutes.

Without Wade, the Heat need almost all of their role players to have above average ball games in order to merely stand a chance.

For all the criticism Beasley absorbs, he is unarguably the second best player on the team and is vital to their success.  As he goes so does the team.  Minnesota took advantage of his foul trouble and shooting struggles to build a comfortable 17 point  lead with him on the bench.

It seems as if James Jones never misses the first 3 pointer he attempts in a game. Coach Spoelstra should perhaps take advantage of this continuing phenomena. 

Dorell Wright is starting to become a very consistent three point shooter.  He had a career high of six in this game.  Three of them were in the fourth quarter when the pressure was on. Wright’s putback dunk on a missed Cook jumper is definitely “SportsCenter Top 10” material. 

The Heat gave up a breakaway layup to Corey Brewer late in the second quarter.  Cook got caught sleeping and the Heat paid for it. Simply unacceptable.

If not for the unforgiving rims at American Airlines Arena tonight, the Heat’s shooting percentage would have been far higher than a pedestrian 41% after two quarters.  It seemed as if half of the attempts were rimming out.

Jermaine O’Neal’s jumper recently has been as smooth and reliable as Haslem’s.  He is starting to look as if he were playing back in the blue and gold.  If he could continue his recent resurgence for the remainder of the regular season, the Heat will be a force to be reckoned with down the stretch.

Beasley’s shot was just off tonight.  However he did not let all of his near misses affect the rest of his all-around game.  He was active on the boards and in the right spots defensively.  Last season, Michael might have gotten discouraged and went through the motions for the remainder of the game.  The young man is maturing before our eyes.

At the end of the 3rd quarter and opening of the 4th, Coach Spoelstra went with a lineup that lacked Beasley and O’Neal.  With Wade injured, it is vital that he has at least one of the two players on the court at all times.  Michael and Jermaine are the only players on the team other than Dwyane that could create their own shot.  Getting into a good rhythm offensively becomes that much more difficult without one of the two.  This is when the game got out of hand

Kevin Love is a double-double machine.  If the Timberwolves could luck out this June in the NBA Draft lottery, a young core of Love, John Wall, Al Jefferson, and Jonny Flynn could provide an effective young nucleus.  Not to mention if Minnesota ever gets their Ricky Rubio situation straightened out. 

Down the stretch, the Heat couldn’t capitalize on their opportunities.  They were constantly out-hustled on the boards.  Minnesota just made the plays that are necessary to pick up a “W” in this league.

When Ryan Gomes missed a jumper with under five seconds left in the game, Miami failed to secure the rebound and lost their most promising chance to win the game. 

After winning its last five out of six games, the Heat once again showed the inconsistency they have struggled with all season long, and ultimately resulted in a loss to the team with the second worse record in the NBA.





Inconsistency: the Miami Heat

4 01 2010

 

Wade attempting a layup against the Utah Jazz.

Throughout the 2009-2010 campaign, the Miami Heat has been on a roller coaster of a ride.  After a surprising 6-1 start, the team has been a model for inconsistent play.

Although Dwyane Wade is without a shadow of a doubt having an impressive season, he is under achieving compared to his performance in his 2008-2009 season. After winning the NBA’s individual scoring crown last season while averaging 30.2 points per game, he is now posting about 3 less points per game. More importantly, his shooting percentage is down about 5 percent from his career average.

The theme of this season is patience. The franchise is just trying to bridge this season to the next and hopefully land a big-time free agent in the summer. The Heat is depending upon internal improvement from its young players, such as Mario Chalmers, Joel Anthony and especially second year forward Michael Beasley.

Beasley driving to the basket against the Detroit Pistons.








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