Miami is at a crossroads, since they proved they can beat both the best and the worst teams. Yet doubters question whether their talent level is high enough survive the first round of playoffs, and lose a prized lottery pick. The next few games will reveal whether the Heat can maintain their current high level of play.
The Philadelphia 76ers head coach, Brett Brown, says, “Any time any team wins nine games in a row in the NBA, they’ve got to feel pretty good about themselves.” They are counting on the Heat becoming complacent.
Although Joel Embiid may not play this Saturday, Miami should still be cautious, because in their previous game they lost, despite Hassan Whiteside having a career high 32 points. T. J. McConnell had a +14 in just 13 minutes against the Heat. While the big men get the headlines, McConnell makes winning plays as featured in this article.
The Need To Stay Hungry
"It's a locker room full of hungry guys and we all have one goal." - James Johnson
JJ may have been listening to motivational speaker Les Brown, whose catchphrase is “You Gotta Be Hungry.”
"If you do what is easy, your life will be hard."
"If you do what is hard, your life will be easy."
Miami didn’t make their chase for a playoff berth easy by losing 30 of their first 41 games. The difficult path was thrust on them due to injuries to key players early in the season. The positive spin on that angle comes from the fact that injuries after the NBA All-Star Game may have more impact, because of not healing fully or even knocking starters out of the playoffs entirely.
The Bleacher Report’s scorecard after 50 games says:
"There's no better story in the league than the Miami Heat these days.
"Winners of an incomprehensible nine straight games, Miami has gone from gunning for the top pick in the lottery to legitimate playoff contention on the strength of pure effort and the best stretch of Dion Waiters' career."
"Dig this: According to Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press, 77 of the last 80 teams to run up an eight-game winning streak have made the playoffs. So...Miami's a lock, right?"
The 76ers will provide a true test Saturday night to see if the Heat stay hungry after feasting on the Atlanta Hawks.