A win that was all about streaks. The Miami Heat won their fourth consecutive game, all in double digit margins. LeBron James had yet another game with more than 20 points, not going below that mark once so far this season, and also wasn’t called for a foul in the fifth straight game. Guess which streak impresses him more.
The important thing, regardless of how in-form LeBron James is at the moment, is that the Miami Heat are playing their kind of very hard to beat basketball again, just in time before their Christmas game against their NBA Finals opponents. That had Erik Spoelstra looking very happy at the end of the game, unlike other wins earlier this season, simply saying that this is Miami Heat basketball.
Defense makes most coaches happy, and the Heat are playing the kind of defense many expect them to play. They held the Jazz to 89 points and 41.1% from the field. They’ve scored over 100 in their last four wins, winning by an average of 18 points. They haven’t allowed more than 97 point for their opponents in the last 7 games.
And James, somewhat realizing that a lot of the clunks and problems with the championship machine were up to him needing to take another step on both offense and defense has done exactly that. He had another nearly triple double with 30 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists. He’s had 20-5-5 at least for the last 13 games. While his scoring streak of 23 games since the start of the season with at least 20 points (averaging 25.4 points this season), his 0 beneath the personal fouls column for five consecutive games makes him a bit happier.
The foul thing is more impressive to me. I don’t care about scoring as much. If I wanted to, I could lead the league in scoring, but that’s not my job here. My job is to do a lot of everything: rebounding, passing and defending so that takes away from my scoring. I’ve done the scoring title before. I’m capable of doing it, but my game sometimes doesn’t allow me to have those big nights.
James takes 18.2 shots per game, third among the top 5 scorers in the NBA. He’s fifth in scoring average, behind Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and James Harden. I’m not sure the scoring title is in his pocket if he wanted to like he describes the situation, especially with Durant in the vicinity, but it’s clear that when it comes to overall contribution on both ends of the floor, no one gets near what LeBron James brings to the table. When it comes down to it, it’s often better for the Heat when he focuses on doing a little bit of everything instead of padding his scoring stats. In the playoffs it’s a different kind of story, as we saw last season.
The win over the Jazz was how the Heat are at their best, with a clear hierarchy, headed by LeBron James. Dwyane Wade followed with 21 points, Shane Battier added 15 and Ray Allen scored another 13 from the bench. The thing Spoelstra and James were most happy with was James’ defense, and his ability to remain foul free, which comes from his improved positioning and movement when he’s guarding. Even LeBron James has things, apparently, to add to his game.