There’s a feeling that the Miami Heat are close to running on empty. For these situations, it’s good to play a team like the Milwaukee Bucks, which leads to a 88-67 win to end a road trip, not needing anything special from LeBron James once again, being able to give their MVP a bit more rest.
James finished with 13 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists in a quiet performance from him. The Heat didn’t need anything more from him because all they had to do against the 14-win Bucks team was simply play solid defense and smart offense without anything too complicated. Moving the ball around almost always created an opening in the paint. Pressing players on defense almost always forced a turnover or the wrong decision.
Chris Bosh led Miami with 14 points, spending only 26 minutes on the floor. This was a second consecutive opportunity for the Heat to rest key players in the final quarter, and give more minutes to Toney Douglas, finishing with 13 points and 9 rebounds in 39 minutes, James Jones in the starting lineup again and Rashard Lewis with 13 points in 20 minutes off the bench. The Heat shot only 43.2% from the field, but grabbed 14 offensive rebounds which is very unlike them and kept the Bucks on a pathetic 34.2% from the field. It was the fourth consecutive game for the Miami Heat holding an opponents to under 40% from the field.
So is the defense coming back? It might. What the Heat are hoping for the most is some rest, and getting players back. With 10 games left in the season and only 1.5 behind the Pacers, the Heat have a favorable schedule looming ahead. They do have to play the Pacers, Nets and Grizzlies one more time, but they’re doing seven of the remaining games at home, which gives them an excellent opportunity to try and overturn the deficit in the East.
Getting Wade, Mario Chalmers and using Greg Oden a bit more regularly would be nice as well. The overall feeling is that Miami are reaching the end of this season on their knees, but without the luxury of giving up on games like they did at the end of last season because of the small lead the Pacers have on them. Maybe a big push in the next five-six games, with the Pacers reeling of late, will be enough to once again finish first in the East, and let LeBron James rest up heading into the postseason.
Chris Andersen finished with 8 points and 14 rebounds, remaining the one influential big man option off the bench. Oden might have had his comeback season, but it’s hard seeing the Heat making significant use of him in a series against the Pacers or anything that proves to be difficult for them. All of their little changes from last season, and it seems the core guys are still the ones Spoelstra goes to, only without Mike Miller this time, and Michael Beasley not being the guy you really know what to expect from, although there have been mistakes in the way he’s been used.
We came in with a workmanlike attitude. There was a commitment to it. You could tell from the beginning we weren’t trying to take the easy way out. It was a great trip overall, just how we bounced back with all the adversity as far as guys in and out of the lineup.