The 82-game long NBA season allows you to take nights off while playing. Dwyane Wade got some rest by sitting out the Miami Heat’s loss to the Detroit Pistons in order to give his knee some scheduled rest, while LeBron James had a rest of his own, setting a bad example in a game that was about not thinking, and not even trying that hard for plenty of minutes.
Arrogant, lazy lethargic. The Miami Heat aren’t going to play like it’s game 7 with their backs to the wall every night, that’s expected. A 10-game win streak at this stage of the season and seeing it getting snapped by a sub .500 team isn’t something to cry about (although almost all the teams in the East are under .500), and the Pistons didn’t really expose a weakness within the Heat’s system no one knew about. However, there were too many moments in the game where the Heat, including LeBron James, simply said f*** it and took the easy road instead of the smart or tough thing to do.
The comeback the Heat went, bringing down the lead to only three points in the fourth quarter (91-88) didn’t come from the excellent ball movement we’ve gotten used to seeing from Miami. It was some excellent defense on Brandon Jennings (7 turnovers), allowing some easy fast break points for Miami, with James usually opting to finish on his own instead of finding open players, and Michael Beasley continuing to show what a great signing he was, scoring 23 points, mostly in one on one plays.
But one of the best examples of not putting in the right kind of effort came in the fourth quarter. Just over three minutes left, and Mario Chalmers was bringing the ball up the floor. The Pistons are leading 96-89. Chalmers passes to Bosh (why?!!!) who was just crossing the halfway line. Bosh automatically tries to give the ball to LeBron, but Josh Smith anticipates that, and steals the ball for the easy breakaway dunk. James or Bosh didn’t even try and chase him down. No one from the Heat actually did, in a play that pretty much kicked any remaining spirit from the Heat’s players.
It’s OK to lose, and it’s OK to give 80-90% sometimes; some losses really don’t make a difference. But the Heat didn’t look at any point like a team trying to solve the problems the Pistons’ loaded frontcourt was presenting them, and lack of thinking is something the Heat can’t afford to happen to them, especially when they’re not with their strongest possible lineup.