The red hot Toronto Raptors gave the Miami Heat plenty of problems, but they couldn’t handle the biggest one: stopping LeBron James. Despite trying with five different defenders, not being able to limit the best player in the NBA was just a bit too much for them.
James scored 30 points, adding 5 assists while shooting 12-of-18 from the field. He didn’t take a single three-point shot, finishing with 6-of-7 from the line. Chris Bosh was struggling with Jonas Valanciunas while Dwyane Wade was facing getting over the hurdle of playing his first back-to-back games of the season. There wasn’t much else but James in order to carry the NBA champions to a tough victory.
Michael Beasley was the closest thing to support James had. The bench unit in general didn’t play the best of games, but the up & down Beasley finished with 17 points. The difference between this Beasley and the one from the past? Not being a meaningful starting player seems to make him more focused, more relaxed, and also less crucial to the team if he’s having a bad night.
We stayed with it mentally. We were into the grind and staying the course and had to continue to make plays. Just find a way to win. Every game is different. One game is different is from the next and you just find a way to win when you can.
For those expecting the Miami Heat to blow by teams when playing at home this season might be serving as severe disappointment. However, going for the three-peat isn’t about being perfect during the regular season. Yes, home court advantage might be crucial for the Heat, just like it was last season. But there’s a bigger, wider, grander plan in motion, which means hitting their stride closer to April than to January.
Dwyane Wade finished with 14 points on 5-of-13 from the field, adding 9 rebounds. It was the first back-to-back stretch for him without taking a rest, which showed a bit, especially with the game winding down. He did however look quite fresh for most of the game, leading to some spectacular dunking by LeBron James and Chris Andersen.
The Raptors? They’re for real. Disappointed at suddenly being overwhelmed in the closing minutes by LeBron James, but there’s talent on this team (although not too much depth), getting a fine 26-point performance from DeMar DeRozan and a big game from both Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson, each scoring 17 points. They just couldn’t make enough big plays in the end, while having to watch LeBron James pull off a couple of his own.
We couldn’t get a bucket. Things were going our way and then it came down to LeBron hitting a couple of big shots. I like the way our guys fought, but in the NBA you don’t get a win or any medal for losing. I like what our guys are building. I know where we are. I’ve said it. I haven’t wavered from it. I like the direction we’re going.