No more big three, and it’s fine. Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade did very well without another big star to help them out, leading the Miami Heat to a 107-95 win over the Washington Wizards, getting some significant contribution from Norris Cole, who feels right at home with his new role as the starting point guard.
Bosh had 16 points midway through the second quarter and ended up scoring 26 points. He’s also back to rebounding the ball like a true big man, grabbing 15 boards.. Wade didn’t look old, slow or banged up en route to 21 points and wasn’t shy about taking 3-pointers. He shot 2-for-3 from beyond the arc and Miami shot 32.1% from beyond the arc, hitting 9-of-28 attempts. Shawne Williams, who started in place of Luol Deng, missed all six attempts.
The big surprise was Cole, who looked great through his first postseason runs but was a weak spot for the Heat during last year’s playoffs. The same goes for Mario Chalmers, who is now a sixth man and seems happy to be in a new role that asks for more leadership, and also has less moments of players around him yelling at him to do better, something that’s become almost like a running joke, now obviously changing.
Cole scored 23 points and hit 3-of-7 from beyond the arc. He’s not a point guard that’s going to have the ball a lot in his hands. Wade, Bosh and Deng when he comes back will be the dominant players in this rotation, but Cole is used to having to make the most of limited time on the floor and with the ball. Shabazz Napier, the third point guard who also played next to Chalmers in the backcourt, scored just two points but moved the ball very well and was smart in his decision making.
The Washington Wizards disappointed. A loss on the road to the Heat isn’t something to be too worried about. Bradley Beal didn’t play, and Garrett Temple didn’t do a very good in his place with only six points on 2-of-8 from the field and Andre Miller, the only other guard on the bench, had an awful performance with 0 points, which makes you wonder if he might be sticking around for too long considering his ability last season as well.
Nene didn’t play, so Drew Gooden played next to Marcin Gortat in the lineup, each of them scoring 18 points. Paul Pierce had a nice debut for the Wizards with 17 while John Wall finished with a nice double double of 16 points and 11 assists. He also turned the ball over six times. Maybe being taken off the national team before the World Championship should have put some extra motivation in him, but that didn’t show on opening night.
The one good thing for the Wizards to take from this game is the performance of Otto Porter, who was very disappointing during his rookie year, partially because of an injury that hurt his early progress. He scored 13 points off the bench in the loss, but getting significant contribution from him along with the missing players (Nene, DeJuan Blair, Beal) would put the Wizards in a very good position to challenge for a lot more than we’re used to seeing from them.