Forget instant karma or the karma police, the Miami Heat were simply outhustled by an up-and-coming young team who couldn't miss in the first quarter and had an answer for every comeback attempt by the Heat. But this is just one game and the Heat weren't going to win every single one of them. This doesn't suddenly mean there are problems with the team, but they were grinding out victories lately instead of crushing opponents and it finally caught up to them. With such a dismal first quarter showing, the Heat had to play perfect ball with little margin of error and though they threatened to take the lead plenty of times it wasn't enough in the end.
Although LeBron James wasn't dominant throughout the game and Chris Bosh's normally reliable jumper wasn't falling, it's hard to place too much blame on the Heat's Big 3. Dwyane Wade had a typically brilliant game that in years past might have been enough to earn the victory. Take away Mario Chalmers' 12 points (on 4-12 shooting) and the supporting cast combined for just 9 points. The rest of the team only totaled 11 points in Portland and 15 in Milwaukee, which is obviously not enough support no matter who the opponent is. Players like Zydrunas Ilgauskas (3.2 points and 4 rebounds average the last 5 games), Carlos Arroyo (5 points, 2.2 assists average during the same span) and James Jones (4.4 points average and only 6 three-pointers over the last 5 games) have been struggling lately and Mike Miller has been a ghost since returning from injury with little to no impact in the few minutes he's given by coach Erik Spoelstra. With Udonis Haslem still months away from returning, the bench must contribute more or else the Heat could find themselves experiencing the same yearly fate LeBron's Cavs teams suffered - superb regular season records but disappointing finishes in the playoffs.
The Clippers really impressed with Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon doing a lot of damage with their athleticism and high-energy. Baron Davis fed off the crowd and had a vintage performance. Coach Vinny del Negro had a solid gameplan to take away Miami's transition game and force the Heat to be a jump shooting team. It's a testament to the Heat that they were even able to climb back into this game and give them a scare in the second half.
Eddie House was the only player to get a DNP for the game as he continues to look on from the bench. Wouldn't his outside shooting be of help since no one else was knocking them down? There are other questions being raised: When will Miller get regular playing time to get the rust off and familiarize himself with his new team? Should the team look outside for a viable solution at point guard for the second half of the season? Could Dexter Pittman be of help this season as he continues his strong play in the D-League?
With the extent of LeBron's ankle injury unknown at this time, it may force Spoelstra to give more minutes to Miller and maybe dust off House for some firepower off the bench for tonight's game against the Denver Nuggets. But Spoelstra seems intent on sticking with his rotation to win as many games as possible and it's worked because of the individual brilliance of the Big 3. Wade and LeBron are making a strong case for co-MVP consideration and Bosh has weathered the initial storm of criticism and has been a model of efficiency. In many ways they have proven that they are the best team in the NBA and they've done it mostly because of their tremendous team defense. One loss doesn't change that but it might ultimately be a good thing they didn't pull out the victory this time because they didn't deserve it. Getting back to basics and starting games strong needs to be the focus now. A win would have just put a Band-aid over their recent struggles. Yes, it's one game but lessons can be learned regardless.