This is how the Miami Heat want to be known as. A team that wins through defense first. Obviously, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen are going to get most of the praise for their stat sheets and the points they score, but the work they do on defense is usually the foundation for the team’s success.
A 4-0 start at home, as weird as it may sound, has never happened to this organization Not during the Wade-Shaq years, and not even during the Big Three era that began two years ago, until now. It had to be the Brooklyn Nets, a team without Gerald Wallace and early on in the season very dependent on the energy it gets from their home crowd, that got to suffer Heat basketball at its best.
And the Miami Heat aren’t at their best when LeBron James or Dwyane Wade go off for 35, 40 or more. It’s when James isn’t forced to try and take shots without involving all the others, and can finish another game not too far from a triple double, producing 20 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists. It’s when they win by 30 and keep their opponents at below 40% from the field, as the Nets scored only 73 points when even their best player, Deron Williams, is limited to only 14 points.
The Heat were simply too fast, too strong and too good on defense for the Nets, who completely lost the game in the third quarter, scoring only 15 points and falling 23 points behind. There was no coming back from that, as the Heat started sending their starters to the bench early in the fourth quarter, not having a reason to send them back.
Ray Allen had the quietest game of his short Miami Heat career, while Rashard Lewis enjoyed one of his best, scoring 13 points.Lewis suffers from bad PR and a contract that made everyone look at him badly, but he’s still starter material on some teams in the NBA, and a great bench player for any NBA team to have. Now he even draws less attention to himself on a team of stars, and finds himself getting easier shots than you’d expect teams would be giving to a player with a career average of 16.1 points per game.
This was important to the Heat to finally get a defensive stop for an entire game. Frustrate a team out of contention way before the fourth quarter began. Great defenses squeeze the life out of their rivals, any kind of hope of turning things around. The Chicago Bulls have that kind of defense, but not enough of an offense to pull them away from teams, not at the moment. For the Heat, with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, a good defensive day is pretty much a guaranteed win against anyone in the league.
With a brutal road trip coming up, that includes playing in Atlanta, Memphis, Houston, LA (Clippers), Denver and Phoenix, all in the span of nine days, this defensive ability is what’s going to pull them through, with all due respect to the abilities of James and Wade. It’s also good they got a nice good rest in their last two games, going in a bit fresher into one of their toughest weeks this season.