Things just turn uglier for the Heat with each passing day, and the pressure in Miami is obvious from Dwyande Wade’s comments – “The Miami Heat are exactly what everyone wanted, losing games. The world is better now because the Heat is losing.” Not too long ago that us against the world attitude made the Heat one of the scarier teams in the league, especially after that Christmas win over the Lakers in LA. After a home loss to the Bulls tonight (87-86), the Heat’s good times look ages away. And speaking of the Lakers, they had a big win in San Antonio over the Spurs (99-83).
We’ll start with the East and the Chicago Bulls, beating the Heat for the second time in just over a week and completing their season sweep over the LeBron-Wade collapsing project. Spoelstra’s seat is rocking, have no doubt about it. The swagger, confidence and edge his players had just not too long ago has disappeared. Fear, pressure and a feeling that everything is crumbling under the burden of the expectations is evident in every play, every minute. The Heat’s open court game, maybe their biggest weapon, just isn’t working. The team isn’t rebounding well and turning the ball over too much (Dwyane Wade, 7).
And all eyes, as usual, turn to LeBron James. He had the final shot again. He, and the entire big three had a good game – James with 26, Bosh with 23 and Wade with 20. Still, the Heat copied the final play from the Mike Brown playbook and sent LeBron on a penetration against the entire Chicago defense. I think he was fouled on that play, but it doesn’t really matter. If there was one thing that was supposed to be different in Miami was that LeBron wasn’t alone. The Heat were supposed to be Wade’s team as well. Right now, it seems that that’s the biggest problem. Wade’s disappearance in the big moments make Miami an easy team to handle.
The Bulls? The recepie for a title run is there. One superstar (Rose, 27 points), two guys who can score 20 any given night (Deng with 18, Boozer with 12-10) and good defense and rebounding. They don’t have a solid player at shooting guard but it doesn’t seem to bother them. If things stay the way they are in the standings (Bulls 2nd, Heat 3rd), Miami will have to go through Chicago in the Eastern Semi Finals.
In Texas – The Lakers have been hot since the All-Star break. Undefeated actually. The most important things? The defense and passion look like they’re back. Not just Kobe, but more importantly, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom. Like in the Spurs’ win over the Heat the other night, no one from San Antonio played 30 minutes. This time it was them having no chance. And the Spurs have those nights – When they look old. Despite Dejuan Blair and George Hill and others I might forgot about, the Spurs are mostly Ginobili, Duncan and Parker. Parker isn’t that old but he’s got some miles and injuries on those legs. Manu Ginobili is the Spurs’ best player, and the Lakers took extra care of him tonight. You can’t always contain him, but when you do, the Spurs can’t win. Not against a team as good as the Lakers.
Kobe Bryant scored 26 and Pau Gasol added 21 in one of the more impressive first quarters seen this season (34-13). Yes, even more impressive than when the Spurs crushed Miami, not too long ago.