It doesn’t always have to be LeBron James that takes over for the Miami Heat when they’re struggling or facing tough opposition. The Los Angeles Clippers tried to force a pace an older team like the NBA champions can’t cope with, but a great shooting performance from Dwyane Wade early in the fourth quarter was enough to pull away from a stubborn team en route to a 102-97 win.
All this talk of Wade’s time as an elite player in the NBA seems completely ridiculous. He scored 29 points, hitting 13-of-22 while adding 7 assists. The Miami Heat, understood in the first half, as the game seemed to be a sprinting contest between Chris Paul and the rest of the Heat, that something has to be done. They slowed the game down and made it about taking care of mismatches they created through James and Wade, who was guarded by J.J. Redick, enjoying a hot start on offense but then disappearing after the first quarter.
Chris Paul is enjoying one of the best starts to a season he’s ever had with six consecutive games of 10 assists or more (11 points, 12 assists), but the Heat did a very good job in the second half of the game to slow him down and force him to start taking shots instead of making other players do the scoring, finishing with 3-of-11 from the field. That’s the formula, more or less, against the Clippers – keep Paul in a half court offense, when the Clippers’ lack of motion comes to light, forcing the point guard to try and score on his own. Against basically very good defenses, like the Heat have, the Clippers can’t win through half court offense.
Blake Griffin has a strong performance with 27 points and 14 rebounds, beating the Heat once again on the board. However, the myth of Miami losing because of being unable to protect the paint is wrong. The Clippers were at their best when they played quickly (Scoring 31 points in the first quarter) and stretched the floor. Not giving the Miami Heat time to trap and put their pawns in their places was what worked well in the first half, yet disappeared while the Heat were able to open up a big enough lead to make the Clippers’ run in the end redundant.
Miami didn’t do anything out of the ordinary, or got to deep into their bench in order to come out ahead in this one. Michael Beasley didn’t play, and Ray Allen was the best player off the bench in a very efficient performance, scoring 12 points on 5-of-8 from the field.
The Clippers might be slightly optimistic about playing better than in the past when they visit the Miami Heat, but the same problems of slow rotations on defense and getting stuck on offense when the open court options disappear remain. In order to become a member of the big leagues, which means becoming a champions contender, these problems will have to be fixed.