Being undefeated at this point of the season is hardly an achievement, but there’s no denying that the Miami Heat in the post-LeBron James era are looking good. Their 107-102 win over the Toronto Raptors was an excellent example of their ability to get points from a number of sources, but obviously led by Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade and Luol Deng.
The Raptors lost for the first time this season, struggling with holding the Heat defensively and probably losing because their inability to connect from long range. The Heat don’t have the best player in the league anymore, but they have a very efficient offensive system that works quite well as long as unselfish, intelligent players are working through it. This leads to plenty of assists and a lot of open shots, hitting 37.5% of their 3-point attempts compared to 25% by the Raptors.
Dwyane Wade had a great start with 4-of-4 in the first quarter, scoring 19 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and adding 7 assists. It doesn’t happen with the explosiveness of the past; Wade isn’t physically capable to play at that pace and high voltage rate without breaking down. But he’s smarter and now with more opportunities to touch the ball and influence the game, showing it was quite too soon to consider him a washed up player.
Chris Bosh led the Heat with 21 points, averaging 25.7 points per game so far this season, reminding everyone of how good he can be when the offense focuses on getting him the ball. Like Wade, he also finished with a double double, adding four assists and doing very well to get to the line, taking 13 shots (making 10 of them) against his former team, finding it easy to dominate against Jonas Valanciunas and Patrick Patterson.
Luol Deng was excellent with 18 points and some very good defense, Mario Chalmers scored 12 points off the bench as he continues to do very well in his new role as a sixth man while Shawne Williams, a fringe player in the NBA up to this stage of his career, added 16 points carrying on with the very good work he’s been doing in the Heat’s lineup this season. Everyone thought Josh McRoberts (scoring his only points with a massive dunk) will be in the lineup but for now he remains on the bench in a very limited role.
It’s too soon to talk about being better than the previous Miami team, especially the one from last season that struggled winning on the road. It’s too soon to say if the Heat are better off without James. It’s not too soon to say that the Heat look like a team capable of not just making the playoffs but doing a lot more in the Eastern conference, having enough talent, experience and coaching staff to overcome the departure of the best player to ever wear a Heat jersey.