Going Back to BasicsWhat made the Heat a team to fear at the beginning of the season wasn’t the obvious firepower coming from the newly formed Trio, but their defensive intensity. After allowing 99 points from the Magic, 125 from the Spurs and 105 from the Blazers on the catastrophic 5-game losing streak, Miami has gone back to the basic scheme that has made them so successful: stifling, relentless defense. Miami held the Lakers (3rd best Off Eff team) to 88 points last week and continued the restless smothering last night, holding the league-best offensive efficient Spurs to a mere 80 points – 3rd lowest output for them this season. Credit goes to a heightened sense of defensive awareness and effort manifesting itself into 9 steals, 5 blocks and countless deflections to discombobulate the Spurs ball movement. Even when the Spurs stringed a series of their usual plays resulting in open shooters, they failed to capitalize (6-22 from 3) making it impossible to keep up with the Heat’s onslaught. Smothering defense, creating turnovers, getting out on the break and aggressive drives into the paint = Quad-Winning.
30 for 30The Heat suffered the worst loss of the season just 10 days ago to the same Spurs squad, crumbling apart and going down by 30 points. That Miami won the re-match against the league’s best by 30 could be easily dismissed as coincidence but the vengeful hunger could be seen from the onset. A 15-point victory would be satisfying enough, 20 points would have sent a statement, but grinding the 30-point margin was a revolution. Miami has faced criticism for laying dormant when facing the elite squads and not retaliating when matters most. It's encouraging to see the Heat biting back just as hard. In the playoffs when series can turn into a 7-game war, one can feel a little more confident Miami is not going out without a fight. Not with Wade and James at the helm.
What Just Happened?Early miscommunication between Dwyane Wade and LeBron James riled up the digital media world with outcries of teammate adversity and propositions for a Wade team takeover. A little over 4:00 minutes into the game, Wade lobed an entry pass to James only to have the ball slapped right back. It’s difficult to tell exactly what happened as Wade seems to look away at the exact moment James slaps the ball back, jogging back to the opposite side of the court. A whistle can be clearly heard, but it doesn’t prompt Wade to turn around at all and find out what had occurred. Take a look: It remains unexplained, but we could suggest a few scenarios: A) Wade believes James has the ball and begins his route away from the play, continuing to jog back after he hears a whistle and seeing his teammates walking away. He assumes a turnover. B) Wade has cat-like vision and does see the ball being slapped back, realizes how silly such ball movement is and decidedly walks away in disgust. He follows it with an obviously irked death stare on James. C) Who knows but the slowed audio gives me the creeps. D) It’s Wade’s team, death stare to anyone not up to par. It might just remain another one of Robert Stacks’ Unsolved Mysteries.