Once a season since the Big Three era began for the Miami Heat, the defending NBA champions drop a game against the Utah Jazz. Tradition continued in the EnergySolutions Arena as LeBron James had his worst game of the season as opposed to Marvin Williams putting in his best.
Williams scored 23 points, making it a third consecutive game for him with 21 points or more, as the Jazz toppled the Heat in Utah for a third straight season with a 94-89 win. Miami managed to take the lead down to two points (91-89) with less than 30 seconds remaining, but a huge shot from Trey Burke, who got some shooting tips from Ray Allen before the game, provided the kill shots to secure the win.
After three consecutive wins, getting a fourth one has become something quite difficult for the Miami Heat, not winning four consecutive games since December. LeBron James struggled all throughout the game, scoring only 13 points on 4-of-13 from the field. He came back into the game with 7:54 left in the fourth quarter, with the Heat down by 7. He managed to make a difference, especially on defense, but missed his only two shots and went 2-of-4 from the line. The Jazz did a great job in slowing down the NBA’s MVP by switching players on him, using Gordon Hayward, Richard Jefferson and Williams himself to great effect.
There’s nobody that can stop LeBron from scoring the basketball, but we tried to slow him down collectively as a team and I think we did pretty good. It seemed we were always in the right place at the right time tonight.
Hayward was a point and rebound shot of achieving a triple double, dishing out 11 assists while shooting 3-of-8 from the field. Trey Burke seemed to listen pretty well to Ray Allen, scoring 13 points and hitting three shots from beyond the arc. Alec Burks did a good job off the bench with 12 points, and the Jazz forced Miami to shoot only 43.4% from the field.
Dwyane Wade was the only player in decent offensive form for the Heat, scoring 19 points and adding 6 rebounds. Chris Bosh and LeBron James combined to shoot only 28% from the field on 25 shots, with James’ 4-of-13 being a season low for him in terms of accuracy.
It was just one of those games where offensively we were out of rhythm and you try to win on the defensive end. We didn’t shoot the ball well like we are capable of doing. We had some great looks, including myself, some really open looks.
For the Jazz, this is mostly an issue of building confidence and chemistry on a team that should be a much bigger part of a playoff race next season with plenty of young and talented players who aren’t as bad as their record suggests. For the Miami Heat, who are now four games behind the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern conference, these kind of losses are becoming less and less affordable considering how badly they need home court advantage, unless they’re still coasting and saving something special for the postseason, not worrying too much about where the Game 7’s will be played.