With all due respect to LeBron James for becoming the youngest player to reach 20,000 career points in the NBA, his ability on the defensive end, along with his teammates’, in a rare road win for the NBA champions, is much more important to the Miami Heat.
After all, there are plenty of players who have done it faster than him. Reaching 5000 assists is nice, especially for a forward, but it’s no reason to start a parade in Miami Beach. The important thing was for the Heat to get on a winning track once again on the road, against a team that’s hard to beat.
And you know what? The Heat didn’t just win, but they shut down the Golden State Warriors. At 92-75 win that was about James simply taking another step into greatness and NBA lore, and a proud championship team showing that all the criticism about it being a tad old to be defending the way it did last season isn’t true. It’s about effort and focus, and the Dwyane Wade, getting most of the poison directed at him, stepped up and showed what a force he can still be on defense, coming up with 5 steals.
The Wade James combination was too much for the Warriors to handle. LeBron James wasn’t too far from a triple double, finishing with 25 points, 7 rebounds and 10 assists, and probably could have gotten there if he would have been on the floor for more than 31 minutes. Still, there are future games, like their visit to the Lakers, to think of.
Dwyane Wade did score “only” 15 points, but he was about feeding James and doing everything well, adding 8 rebounds, 6 assists (including two very impressive alley-oop passes to James) and 5 steals. Chris Bosh got a lot more help this time on the boards and finished with 11 points. Mario Chalmers enjoyed the defensive problems the Warriors were having containing James, who was beating people left and right, creating a lot of open looks for others, scoring 15 points on 4-7 from downtown.
This win was about putting behind a few old ghosts: The 97-95 loss to the Warriors earlier this season, and the loss against the Utah Jazz, in which both Wade and Bosh spent the crucial minutes on the bench, getting people to question the decision making of Erik Spoelstra once again. There’s nothing like a convincing win (92-75) to put all those words behind them.
With a 26-6 run that opened the third quarter, giving the Heat their largest lead of the day at 34 points, there was no more need for the big three, who rested peacefully and happily on the bench during the last 12 minutes of the game. Making a statement in the Bay Area about their credibility, ability to focus and to clamp down on defense (keeping the Warriors at a terrible 36.3% from the field while forcing them to 21 turnovers, scoring 22 points off of them) is important, but something tells me that putting on a show against the Lakers at the Staples center is just as important to them.