Determining the fate of a franchise based on two bad games is wrong. LeBron James is still the best player in the league, and Dwyane Wade isn’t about to retire anytime soon. But from what we’ve been seeing in these last two games from the Miami Heat, there’s a feeling that this wonderful run the Big Three (along with Chris Bosh) have had over the last four years is reaching its final stop.
Some people think of the Miami Heat as a team born out of sin. Bought, not built. You know the drill. The Los Angeles Lakers are always a team with plenty of hate directed at them. That is what success breeds. But the Heat came along in a different time. They also don’t have the amount of fans the Lakers have nationwide. The Heat, champions from 2006, suddenly become the most talked about team in the league. Targets on their backs.
There’s this claim that the Miami Heat didn’t grow naturally. As if there’s such a thing. You can either trade, sign free agents or drafts. Those are the three ways to get players in the NBA. There’s no youth setup. The Heat, thanks to having Dwyane Wade on the team, were able to draw in the best player on the planet and an All-Star Power Forward/Center, immediately becoming not just championship contenders, but a potential dynasty.
And now, the main reason James had for coming to Miami – Wade, seems to be gone. Wade can still have 20 or even 30 points games, but his 3-for-13 performance in the game 4 humiliation was just another piece in a puzzle that has been completing itself for quite some time. Without the Miami Heat playing the right kind of basketball, which means passing and moving, there’s no chance to succeed against a team as good as these San Antonio Spurs.
LeBron James had his moment of giving it all in the third quarter. He scored 19 points out of the Heat’s 21. The problem is – he was all alone. On defense one player can’t guard five, and the Heat fell into every trap the Spurs set for them, especially when Boris Diaw was on the court, improving his +/- in the series to an insane +60. Wade has been messing up defensively, completing the picture of a future hall of fame player who sometimes does more harm to his team then good when he’s on the floor – something similar to last year’s finals in the first few games.
Watching the other team look great no matter who is on the floor must be frustrating. James looks at his bench and teammates and understands that the great team of 2012 and 2013 is gone. Older, worse. Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole haven’t shown up to this series. Chris Bosh needs his teammates to make him look good. Ray Allen isn’t saving anyone this time. We’ve come down to Udonis Haslem, Chris Andersen, an improved Rashard Lewis who is no longer the ace up a sleeve and James Jones. Oh, and there’s Greg Oden with Michael Beasley in street clothes.
Maybe there’s still something left in the tank of the Miami Heat. We’ve never had a team come back from 3-1 in the NBA Finals. But Rudy Tomjanovich once said that you can never underestimate the heart of a champion. Maybe these Heat aren’t the empty shells they looked like at the end of game 4. Maybe there’s a bit more they can give, unwilling to bow down to a better team from the looks of it, unwilling to begin a summer that will be about breaking up the trio and maybe rebuilding.
Rumors and sources mean nothing now. LeBron James has to be thinking about his future. With or without the Miami Heat. With or without Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh by his side. If he’s bothered with championships and letting his legend grow even larger than it already is, changing the current situation is a must for him. Maybe it’ll take another act of “treason” or maybe it’ll be about simply taking pay cuts in order to breath new life and talent into this roster. Many things are possible.
But don’t just break up the Miami Heat yet. Not in your imagination, and not in Pat Riley’s mind. One less leg cramp in game 1 and this would be a different series. What if’s might be saved for losers and whiners, but the Miami Heat are on the verge of losing in the NBA finals, so they can think about what might have been. This team has some basketball left to show in June 2014. Hindsight intelligence is no intelligence at all. The bashing will be just as painful if they lose in game 5 or 6 or maybe even 7. Immediately disregarding any chance they have left isn’t fair or wise to do.