In an 82 game season, you have to pace your self, and figure out what battles to give up on right away. LeBron James had his first big game of the season on the third game of the Miami Heat road trip, including a huge fourth quarter, the kind people were always saying he never comes up with, until last postseason.
After a tired looking performance in the 18 point loss against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Heat turned up the energy levels again. You can’t go full steam for an entire 82 game NBA season, so you make choices about were to tune out, especially if the game becomes too much to try and control. The Houston Rockets might be the hottest new thing in the NBA, by they are no way as good as the Memphis Grizzlies, or the Miami Heat.
Still, a big shooting day from beyond the arc and especially from LeBron James was needed to come up with the win and put Miami at 6-2 this season. Once again, their defense wasn’t exactly on par with what we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from them in the previous couple of seasons, leaving Harden, Lin and especially Chandler Parsons (25 points, 5 three pointers) for open shots from beyond the arc, but LeBron James was there in the second half to make all of that negligible.
He finished with 38 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, but the big boost came in the second half, scoring 32 points, 16 of them in the fourth quarter. Last season both Wade and James decided, at least early in the season, not to focus too much on shooting from the outside. This time, James couldn’t stop connecting from deep, hitting 5-8 from three point range, including three times in the final quarter.
And this is the James the Heat would love to see every night, although it’s better to have him resting here and there so he’ll be ready to play like this each night come April-May-June time. It’s not so much the ability but the aggression and mind set of continuously driving to the basket, while having some great passing from Dwyane Wade, who kept drawing double teams before kicking it out to James, finishing with 7 assists.
The Heat are at their best when they move the ball quickly; something that sometimes they neglect to do, opting for forced fade away jumpers. Tired legs often begin with tired heads and minds, which leads to lazy basketball. Smart, thinking basketball, on a team as talented as the Miami Heat, leads to a lot of open shots. Wade, Bosh and James can easily draw double teams. The trick is to be good enough with your decision making and finding the open man, who’s almost always there.
So this is how it’s going to be for the Heat this season. Knowing how to use their energy levels, most of all LeBron James, who wasn’t 100% going into the game. Being champions doesn’t amount to giving your all for six months before crashing, fatigued, in the postseason.
It’s about knowing how to spread your effort between the players and between nights, and knowing where to take your losses. This is the kind of basketball we’re seeing early on from the Miami Heat, who are worrying about winning the title six months from now rather than impressing anyone early on.