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Udonis Haslem saves the day as Heat finish season with 8 straight wins on the road

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Another not so great start for the Heat last night, as they went scoreless in their first three possessions while letting the Sixers start off 3-for-3.  Maybe the Heat need to work on their halfcourt offense during the pre-game shootaround because it takes them a while to get going.  It took a 15-8 start by Philly (making 6-of-7) for the Heat to yet again take the first timeout of the game. 

I felt like I was watching a replay of last night as the Sixers were shooting the lights out and Miami was trying diligently to keep up.  A late 8-0 run by the Heat tied the game at the 1st quarter came to a close.  It was nice to see Jamaal Magloire start the 2nd for the Heat, with playing time coming at a premium for him.  The second unit did what it usually does, giving the eaHeaHeat a boost.  Their run stretched to 17-3, and things must have been going Miami's way because even the likes of Mario Chalmers hit a 3-pointer (wow!).

Right around the halfway point of the 2nd, Philly started hitting their shots again.  That was about the same time that D-Wade and Beasley joined the second unit, but suddenly the Sixers were running all over the Heat.  Miami found themselves down by 4 as they were getting killed in the transition game.  D-Wade kept his team in the game factoring in the 8 points they scored in the last 2+ minutes of the quarter, scoring 6 and assisting on the other field goal, a Dorell dunk that sent the Heat into the half down by 1.

Miami came out of the half very cold and the Sixers did not.  I kept waiting for things change in favor of the Heat as the quarter went on but they just like they were trying to run through mud.  The one bright spot was Q-Rich, who had a 15-10 double double halfway through the quarter.  Every time the Heat made a little run Philly would answer by a jumper.  As the quarter drew to a close Miami hit on 6 straight buckets but still found themselves down by 4 heading into the 4th.

I got a little concerned when the 2nd unit failed to shut down Philly, allowing the lead to get back up to 7, but Udonis Haslem almost singlehandedly brought the Heat right back to tie the game, with a little help from Carlos Arroyo.   Wade came back in the game with just over 5 minutes left and within a minute had scored back to back buckets to put Miami up by 3. 

I found it interesting that despite having such a good game, Quentin Richardson hadn't touched the floor in the 4th quarter, although who was he going to replace with Haslem, Beasley and Dorell on the court?  You know that U-D wasn't coming out, Dorell is out there because he is solid on both ends of the floor...so it comes down to Beasley or Q.  Beasley hadn't done much since halftime, but I imagine they wanted the inside-outside threat on the court in Beas as opposed to the mostly outside game of Q-Rich. 

Quentin came back in with about 2:40 left and replaced Arroyo, but he quickly missed two shots.  If they brought him in to take jumpers, why not keep in Arroyo who had missed just 2 of his 8 shots where Q was 5-for-11 before coming back in.  The only thing I can think of is that Quentin's ability from beyond the arc may draw defenders out of the pain more then Arroyo, as well as on defense Q has the size and rebounding advantage over Carlos. 

After the Heat took a 103-102 lead with 3:14 left, neither team scored for over 2 minutes.  Miami went 0-for-3 with a turnover in that span, unable to extend their lead until D-Wade forced a turnover and slammed home a breakaway with 34 seconds left.   Andre Iguodala came right back and hit a big trey with Dorell covering him like a blanket, and it was Heat ball with 20.4 left in a tie game. 

D-Wade brought the ball up the floor, waited until there was under 5 seconds left and drove the ball.  Three Sixers defenders went to Wade, and he found a wide open Udonis Haslem who hit his trademark mid-range J with 1.3 seconds left, putting the Heat up by 2.  Philadelphia would get one final shot, but a great job by D-Wade guarding the inbound pass and all the Sixers would get is a way-too-long 3-point attempt by Iguodala that didn't even catch rim. 

So Miami finished their road schedule by winning 8 straight away from home, tying Orlando for the longest road win streak this season.  It seems the Heat's recent winning formula includes them trailing early, and in some cases often, before overtaking their opponent.  That isn't going to cut it when the Playoffs begin, where every possession is going to be valuable.  I'm sure they know that just as much as we do, and the adrenaline and pressure of the Playoffs will get them going earlier...we hope. 

GAME NOTES

  • Carlos Arroyo is shooting the lights out of late; in his last 5 games he has made 65.7% of his shots.  He scored 15 points last night and has double-digit points in 4 of his last 5 games.  Also, after dishing out just 5 assists over his last 3 games, he had 7 against the Sixers. 
  • The Heat improved to 12-3 in games started by Joel Anthony
  • Beasley had a good first half, scoring 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting with 4 boards and a steal.  He was quiet in the 2nd half, but for the second straight game he did not turn the ball over. 
  • You have to appreciate the effort that Dorell Wright puts fourth night in and night out.  It's almost Udonis-like.  Regardless of what the box score says, Dorell always gives 110% and that kind of effort isn't common, especially in today's NBA.
  • While Udonis failed to reach double digit rebounds, he had 10 big 2nd half points...8 of which came in the 4th quarter.  If anybody is hitting their stride heading into the Playoffs, it's Udonis.  
  • D-Wade had a ‘quiet' 30 points to go along with 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and a block.  
  • I mentioned earlier about Q-Rich's double double.  He finished with 15 points and 12 boards, but also dished out 4 assists. 
  • Looking at the box score, I noticed that all the Heat starters were in the minus while all the bench players were in the plus.  The second unit has been key to the success of the Heat, for sure.

Miami will now head home for their final ‘tune up' before the Playoffs.  They get to play the Nets, and while they hold the worst record in the NBA you still have to bring a solid effort to beat them.  Hopefully, the Heat will do just that.