Never forget the guy who got you there. Ray Allen hit his first game winner for the Miami Heat with a corner three and six seconds left on the clock, but it was Chris Bosh scoring 40 points on one of the biggest nights of his career that took care of business in the 119-116 win over the Denver Nuggets.
There’s a lot of talk of the re-positioning done at the Miami Heat, making Chris Bosh the center and LeBron James the power forward. On Friday night, it was a recipe for disaster against the New York Knicks. Against the Nuggets it was once again a lot of defensive struggles against a team that loves to run, which usually is something that suits the Heat very well, especially at home. But Miami’s second unit is having trouble getting defensive stops, as Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis create more than a few holes in their coverage, while the entire team sync on D isn’t quite at the level you’d expect from the NBA champions.
Despite Chris Bosh scoring his Heat-high, Ray Allen sinking the game winner and scoring 23 points off the bench and LeBron James finishing with a near triple double (20 points, 9 rebounds, 11 assists), the Heat have a problem early on, allowing 109 points per game through their first three games.
They can’t stop the penetrations, with teams simply not fearing anything the Heat have to offer in terms of shot blocking in the paint. JaVale McGee and Kenneth Faried ruled the boards, combining for 11 offensive rebounds and scoring 38 points. The Nuggets scored 72(!!!) points in the paint while grabbing 18 offensive rebounds.
Ray Allen four point plays and Chris Bosh scoring 40 points against a non-existent interior defense won’t be happening too often, and the Heat have a glaring need for some patch up job defensively. The small ball works, but it has its weaknesses. Joel Anthony, who has won and lost and won and lost and regained the confidence of coach Erik Spoelstra is currently the fix-it attempt that didn’t work so well. Look for lineups with Udonis Haslem as the “big” coming up very soon.
The good thing about the Heat early on is that there’s no ego. With Wade and Haslem both having two NBA rings and the rest of the team with one, everyone knows what the goal is and there’s no need for carrying too much on anyone to get there. James and Wade have no problem stepping back and letting others do the work. James dished the assist to Allen in the corner to win the game, something he has been criticized so many times before for doing. It’s not escaping responsibility, it’s simply making the better decision. Ray Allen wide open in the corner is just as good as driving to the basket with two-three defenders on you.
What is apparent is that both Wade and James but especially LeBron are taking it a bit easier offensively. A bit slower with the ball movement in the half court offense, which is never good, and a bit less aggressive when driving to the basket. Maybe they’re saving and conserving their energy and intensity levels. Maybe their not at 100% yet, and slowing their way into the season. Having Bosh and Allen to pick up the slack is a privilege few teams in the NBA have.