Let me put this out there first. I am an extremist first and foremost. When were on a winning streak where we win 20 out of 21 i believe nothing can stop us and we will dominate everyone in our path to a ring. Then we lose 4 straight and im praying we make it out of the 2nd round of the playoffs because i know were going to have to play Boston, Orlando, or Chicago. Sometimes i get a little too ahead of myself and i need to take a step back and breathe and refocus, and thats what i am doing now. We are just over halfway through the regular season and i know it hasnt gone how many people originally planned (breaking the 72 game record) but it is just about where i thought we would be. The notion of breaking the Bulls 72 game record i always thought was crazy. This is a team that still, even at this point, is still learning how to play with each other. It could take the rest of the year to find out their rythym with people coming in and out of the line up from injury. My original prediction for this year was that we were going to lose in the Eastern Conference Finals. Im not being pessimistic, but its just a prediction. At this point i just wanted to reassess the Heat as a whole.
Wade: Coming into this year a lot of people thought LeBron was just going to take over this team and they werent sure how Wade would sit with that. I personally always thought this was going to be Wade's team no matter what. This whole thing about "whose team is it?" is annoying anyway. Its something the media is making more than it needs to be. Wade is back to playing like we know he can. After an early season injury and poor play, he is back to dominating fashion when he has the ball in his hands. What bothers me sometimes is how the ball is distributed. Last game against the Hawks Wade didnt take a shot in the last 7 mins of regulation and took only 1 in overtime. LeBron seemed to dominate the ball. Wade is the one with the real killer instinct. He needs to demand the ball more down the stretch if we need to get to the rim.
LeBron: After the first few weeks LeBron's game has come back to what he always has been. A great scorer who can distribute and rebound. He has already given the heat a few triple doubles and some great highlight moments, but i think at times he feels like hes back in Cleveland where he had to dominate the ball. It has to be a hard habit to break, but you know in LeBron's mind if there is a crucial possession he wants to have the ball because that is what he is used to (even if it isnt the best option). Case in point the end of regulation last game, and the end of OT. You cant tell me you cant find a better shot in 24 seconds than to jack up 30 ft 3 pointers. It was a poor lapse in judgement of the play and a bit of tunnel vision. Overall LeBron has played well this season and i cant wait until his ankle is back to being 100% so his quickness and burst return.
Bosh: In the offseason i said Bosh may be the biggest catalyst for this team. The first few weeks people were dismissing him and saying we need to trade him. Hes not worth it, blah blah blah. Bosh has become one of the reasons we are doing so well. The way he spaces the floor, the slickness of his 18 foot jumper, his ability to hit the boards, and just his overall demeanor are really helping this team. When Bosh is on the floor everyone plays better. He may not be the #1 option in an offense, but he sure as hell makes life easier on everyone else. He does have his moments where he lapses on defense and he can get abused by bigger and more athletic big men, but all in all he has been solid. For everyone who says he is a liability on defense needs to look deeper. Statistics say the Bosh when guarding 1 on 1 in the post is one of the top in the league at defending his position. I didnt believe it either but stats dont lie. I cant wait for him to get back in the lineup and reassert himself.
Big Men: The Warden has been the biggest surprise to me this season. I didnt know exactly how he was going to fit into the dynamic of this team, but his defense and blocking/rebounding has been off the charts especially recently. He is giving us that Haslem-like mentality (without the shooting) that we need in the blocks. Big Z is only valuable when his shot is hitting. If hes not hitting his shot than hes been worthless. He dosent bang down low, and hes not a good post up shooter. Damp has been ok. He is creating space and doing the things that need to be done but lets face it, hes old and a step too slow sometimes. If Joel could somehow find a decent offensive game i think that would completely change the dynamic of the team. Its amazing how different practice is than a game. Earlier this year i was sitting on the floor during pregame shoot around and Joel was out there working on his shots. He hit like 55 out of 58 shots, but in a game the man has hands of stone. If he can translate practice into a game it would be HUGE.
Bench: (im including Arroyo in this as well) The bench needs to really pick up the slack. During the winning streak the Big 3 were scoring an average of about 75 points a game for our team. Thats amazing for them but what does that really say about our bench? Its piss poor. Arroyo and Chalmers have been playing average at best. James Jones was hitting the open 3's earlier in the year but the last 2 weeks it seems hes tailed off. Although Jones is picking up on the defensive end. The charges he is taking are creating crucial turnovers for the other team and that is what HEAT basketball is all about. Mike Miller has been truly disappointing. Now im willing to give him a pass because i know hes coming back from surgery on his shooting hand, but he just looks plain scared. In recent years if he was going to the rim he would take contact and try to get to the free throw line. Now he rarely goes to the rim, and when he does if the sees the slightest bit of opposition he passes it off. The other day he had his hand above the rim with the ball and then passed it off because of a defender. He needs to get his mojo back and stop being so damn afraid. Im happy Eddie House is finally getting some minutes again. He is a guy who can always give you a spark and can put points up in a hurry. I understand the stats say that LeBron and Wade play better when a PG is on the floor, but how can you deny this guy? Hes got heart, can hit the open shot, and is willing to play team basketball.
All in all i guess i would say im satisfied with the position the Heat are in at this time considering what they have been through. Injuries to all of the Big 3, Millers hand surgery, Haslem being out for almost the whole year, our size disadvantage, and poor PG play, but i know the more they play together the more it will work out in the end. We just have to keep pushing forward and support this team. I am at most of the games from beginning til end always cheering us on. If you live in the South Florida area make it out to the AAA. Cheer on your team. You will only see a team makeup like this maybe once in a life time.
LETS GO HEAT! And as always you can follow my rants on Twitter @KeeblerFSU