[caption id="attachment_3557" align="aligncenter" width="432" caption="This Cavs club can't even handle him right now"]
A win is a win, whether it’s achieved against a contender or a team looking to re-build. Wins silence the doubters, build confidence and to shake loose the media criticism. It’s all much understood and well documented.
But isn’t it how you get them just as important?
The game started even, the Cavalier guards getting into the paint at will and dishing out to the open man. The Cavs netted 12 team assists and shot 50% from the field in the first half. Meanwhile, Miami ran through the motions and did not take the size advantage over the smaller Cavs, shooting 42% but continuously getting to the line (12-for-16 FT) to bail them out. At one point, the lethargic Heat trailed by 10 points but ended up cutting it to a 3 point game at halftime.
The second half was again a different story. As the feisty Cavaliers relentlessly attacked the paint and moved the ball, the Heat stayed close until the dagger was ready to impale the fragile team at the end of the third. Remembering the efficiency in their fast break game, LeBron snagged a defensive rebound, steamed up the court and in one swift motion gave the ball to Eddie House who immediately routed it to James Jones in the corner for a three. Kaboom. Jones fell as he was hit on the arm, no foul was called, but the Heat had gained the momentum to ride forward.
In the decisive fourth quarter, the Cavaliers clawed at the Heat’s offense and ran on just enough adrenaline to look troubling. Just when you thought the Cavs had the play that could shift the game’s gears, Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers (not a typo) took turns stepping on the gas and nailed jumper after jumper. Wade had scored 7 points in the entire first half but exploded for 17 on 6-8 shooting in the fourth (3 of them from long range) as he finished with 28 points.
The Cavaliers had brought their talents to South Beach, but The Force was too strong in this one.
The second half sounds exciting, dramatic at the most opportune times, climatic in others. It was, that’s a fact. But in a game where opposite forces should have clashed for the ultimate collapse, the Miami Heat failed to live up to the numbers allowing the Cavaliers to score 95 points (above the Heat’s 91.0 PPG allowed average & the Cav’s 93.2 PPG per game average) and falling to old early-season habits - only to wake up just in time to overcome them. Sound like a champion?
Champions seldom falter. They win with consistency, focus, determination and execution. Yes, expectations for this team are ridiculously high - as they should be. The world is not wrong in their demands. All the potential to be even more than imagined gives the basketball world hope of witnessing unforgettable history and the Heat should relish the possibilities of giving it to them. Like a parent who is never satisfied, we should demand better because it can
Ultimately, the season is an 82 game battle for victories and home court advantage but it should also serve as lessons learned. One of eighty-two falling to boredom is tolerable but the Heat should be wary of not letting it become a habit.
- With a victory over the woeful Cavaliers, Miami stretches their winning streak to double digits, sitting at an NBA second best 10 wins in a row (Celtics lead with 11 wins in a row thanks to their victory over the NY Knicks last night). Oppositely, the Cavs are on a league worst 9 game losing streak.
- Color broadcasters Eric Reid and Tony Fiorentino phone interviewed rookie center Dexter Pittman live during the third quarter. It was encouraging to hear the bright youngster’s spirits and outlook on his time in the D-League. Unfortunately for him the addition of Erick Dampier, along with the versatile backcourt consisting of Ilgauskas, Anthony, Magloire and Howard leaves no room or need for the young center in the near future.