An impressive win over a quality opponent at a very opportune time.
Pretty much everything went right for the Heat last night, proving that this young team is capable of brilliance along with its recently-displayed ineptitude. The Heat is now 2-2, with both wins at home and both losses away. I hope this team isn't one that can only play well at home, but I'll take it over not being able to play well anywhere. It's a young squad, and they'll figure it out. A strong home-court advantage would be a great foundation for a winning team, leaving the team needing to learn how to go .500 on the road to become a 50-win team.
A quick rundown of the goodness from Wednesday night:
Mario Chalmers. The Superintendent had a transcendent game, setting a Heat record with 9 steals and setting the tone for a Miami rout. His shot wasn't falling, but he did more than enough to make up for it. The shot will come around as he adjusts to the NBA line and learns to relax a little. For now, his energy at the point is exactly what's needed. Bonus: 6 assists vs. 2 turnovers, implying that he can create havoc defensively while still maintaining his discipline on offense. For a lot of guys the trade-off for forced turnovers is an overall frenetic style of play. Chalmers, by contrast, played a solid fundamental game and simply seized on a ton of opportunities to force turnovers.
Dwyane Wade. Wade chipped in more on the ball-handling front, which I suggested yesterday might help his sense of ownership over the offense. Well, it worked. Wade finally made more than he missed, shooting 9-15 from the field, and got to the line regularly for 13 free throws. He still had the turnover problem, tying Michael Beasley for a team high with 4, but compensated 5 steals and 3 blocks, a magnificent defensive effort overshadowed by Chalmers. Besides, you can't ask a guy to carry this much of an offensive load and expect him not to make occasional mistakes. The ratio of great play to gaffe is still tilted heavily in Wade's favor.
Michael Beasley. The rookie held his own against a formidable Sixers frontcourt in which he was frequently matched up against 6-11 center Samuel Dalembert. He missed 10 of 17 shots and had the 4 turnovers, but he also had 9 rebounds and seemed to start coming around defensively. Erik Spoelstra must have noticed too, because Beasley played a team-high 37 minutes, a workload made possible by Beasley staying out of foul trouble.
Udonis Haslem. Haslem has been stellar so far this season, but he shouldn't have to score as much as he has been. This is the kind of game I'd happily take from Haslem every night: 10 points on 4-6 shooting, 5 rebounds (could bump that up a little bit), and keeping the other team's post threat under wraps while avoiding foul trouble. A textbook effort.
Shawn Marion. Marion looked uncomfortable in the new mask, missed 9 of 14 shots and finished with a modest 12 points and 7 rebounds. He also got lit up, as I suggested in the preview, by emerging Sixers star Thaddeus Young. But I was absolutely thrilled with this game for one reason: it proved that Marion is a vestigial part of this team. Miami can be successful without him, and in fact might be more successful without him. I wish James Jones was heathy to prove this point, but Miami might be better off with a pure shooter in the lineup with Chalmers, Wade, Beasley and Haslem. A trade looks better, and more likely, all the time.
The bench. Yakhouba Diawara would be a supremely valuable player if he consistently knocked down perimeter shots like he did Wednesday. Chris Quinn gave the Heat some good backup minutes at the point, though he's still in love with the jumper early in the shot clock. And what the hell got into Mark Blount. The dude was positively concious. Miami's paying him a ton and has no way to dump his salary, so if he wanted to play like that every night it'd be most appreciated.