For the first time this series, the Heat are in an absolute ‘must-win' situation. I'm sure some of your confidence has wavered, and I'll give you that considering the Heat have been embarrassed in back to back games. But considering the situation and potential of this game, I'm going to approach this pre-game from a simple standpoint.
So, why will the Heat win? I'm so glad you asked...we'll start with D-Wade's back, which is ‘back' to feeling somewhat better. Maybe knocking his head on the floor reminded him of some of his more painful injuries, or it may have just made him forget the pain entirely. Either way, he was looking more like his normal self then he had in a week, and I fully expect his 8-of-13 2nd half to carry over into tonight's game.
More carry overage should be embraced by Michael Beasley. He showed signs of life for the first time during Game 5, and hopefully will give him the needed confidence going into tonight's game to perform at the level that we all expect out of the former 2nd overall pick. The key will be in his jumpers. Should he hit a few early outside shots, it will open up the floor that much more, making it easier for him to drive. When he is hitting jumpers and still driving the ball...he is at his best.
Look, I don't want to focus on the ‘toughness' or the needed aggression after all the b-s that went on during Game 5. It isn't going to come down to who is the tougher team...the key to the Heat getting the ‘W" will be defense. If they can slow the Hawks down, which they did so well during games 2 and 3, I think that will fuel their offense and keep their players moving. Too many times during the series the Heat have been standing still. How about the 5-second call during the last game. With Mario Chalmers inbounding the ball, it took over 2 seconds for any Heat players to move when D-Wade was too covered to get the ball. Other times on offense, players are just standing still while whoever has the ball, be it Jermaine O'Neal, D-Wade, whoever, are just standing there after picking up the dribble with no outlets to pass the ball.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
A bit after the fact...the NBA rescinded the Flagrant 1 called on D-Wade during Game 5, keeping the star from facing a league fine.
Wade had some choice words about the Hawks unprofessionallism. When addressing both the celebration by Mario West after Wade missed a trey at the halftime buzzer and the attempted between-the-legs airborne dunk by Josh Smith, Dwyane had this to say:
"It is (a lack of respect)," Wade said, "and one thing I go back to is something my high school coach always told me _ act like you've done something before. He used to hate when I used to dunk and pound my chest all the time. He used to tell me act like I've been there, act like I've done it. Be classy. Win, lose, or draw, you're supposed to be classy. So (there are) some unprofessional things they have to take care of from their standpoint. On the court you show emotion, and that's great, but celebrating after one stop? That's funny. Mario (West), I have nothing simmering with him," Wade said dismissively. "He has not been a factor in this series. It's irrelevant to me. I have nothing brewing with him at all."
Wade also had some words for the Heat's youngsters...not exactly calling them out, but close enough:
"To be honest with you I have no idea (if they understand playoff intensity). I don't," he said. "Tomorrow is going to show a lot to see if our young guys really feel it. If it seems like I'm calling them out, I'm not calling them out. But I want to see our young guys play like its Game 6 of the playoffs. If ‘Rio (Chalmers) says he's won a national championship, well, I want to see him play like it. I want to see Michael (Beasley) play. It's not about making shots; it's about your intensity, it's about your focus. And I want to see our young guys tomorrow focused and playing with energy."
You can take from that whatever you want, but despite Wade saying that he isn't calling anybody out...it sure sounds like the opposite. It's worked in the past with Udonis getting his teammates riled up, so maybe hearing it from D-Wade will provide an even bigger spark.
James Jones has been the most consistent player for the Heat if you count all aspects, offense, defense and intangibles.
The Heat simply HAVE to play better defense. 41 Atlanta foul shots in Game 5 just show laziness by the Heat. Lots of reaching and playing D with their arms. Defense should be played with the feet...its all about positioning.
Look guys...this is it. The Heat need to come up with the good game that we know they are capable of playing, but for whatever reason cant bring on a consistent basis. They have one chance to bring it out, and if they do, then they earn another chance. This is a very beatable Hawks team, and after all the b-s that has gone on during this series, I bet the Heat would LOVE to go back up to Atlanta and beat them on their own home floor in a Game 7. But first, they have to bring it tonight.
We can talk about how Daequan Cook and Mario Chalmers need top step up, or how Wade and Beasley need to be the leading scorers they showed they can during the regular season. But we already know that. It's time to shut up and play.