All of a sudden, our Miami Heat appear to be on the right track. A players-only meeting and convincing wins over the Washington Wizards, Detroit Pistons, Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks, and Milwaukee Bucks, respectively, have all but made us forget the turmoil of only a week ago. I must say that—despite my fears to the contrary—our guys have rebounded nicely after pushing the rumor mill into overdrive following a record that had dipped as low as two games above .500 and sixth place overall in the Eastern Conference standings. I was looking very closely at how the Heat players would show up with LeBron’s much-anticipated return to Cleveland coming on the heels of so much adversity. To many, the game may have been a foregone conclusion, but I saw it as a potential disaster. For all intents and purposes, that game against the Miami Heat was Cleveland’s championship game. No other game this season will matter as much to Cavalier fans this season until March 29, 2011—the next time the Heat come to town. I don’t think I’d be overstating myself in saying that the majority of Cavalier fans would probably like to see a victory over Miami over winning a Playoff game.
The table was set. Roles were less than clear. The Heat had underachieved severely up to that point. The Cavs had overachieved up to that point. A loss in that game would have taken the perception that Coach Erik Spoelstra’s seat was already warm and set that seat virtually ablaze. Instead, LeBron James stepped up and he and Dwyane Wade finally looked "comfortable" on the floor together. LeBron seems to be focusing on his game—which at this point is the best thing he can do for both himself and the team. D-Wade is doing what has made him beloved among Heat fans over the past several years—whatever his team needs. Even Chris Bosh seems to be finding his way.
For now, I’m very encouraged about the outlook for our team. For now, I’m pleased with the productiveness of the guys on our roster. For now, we are only a game and a half back of first place Orlando for the division lead and third place overall in the Eastern Conference. For now, I’m putting that glass case back down on that panic button and shouting, "No deal!"
We knew this season was going to be a process and have its ups and downs, right? Some of the runs will make our guys look invincible. Others will reveal that these guys still have a good bit to figure out before they will be true Championship contenders. I still know where the panic button is, but I no longer feel the need to press it—for now. My renewed optimism is guarded, however, as only 2 of our 14 wins have come against teams with winning records.