Winning 13 in a row doesn’t always come easily, and the Miami Heat, after running through pretty much everyone in February, needed a bit more than pretty basketball as LeBron James finally hit a wall in terms of his shooting, and Dwyane Wade took over the show to keep the Heat on pace to finish with the best record in the NBA.
After a nearly perfect month, LeBron James had a bad game. He finished with 18 points while shooting 8-18 from the field, snapping his career-best 14-game streak of games shooting at least 50% from the field. He recorded season lows in field goals (1) and points (4) for a first half Friday against the Grizzlies. He scored only four points through the first three quarters against the tough Grizzlies, marking just the fifth time in his career with four points or less through the first three, and the first time it’s happened to him since 2007.
However, he did pass the 1500 points on the season mark, scoring at least 1500 points in each of his first 10 NBA Season, becoming only the fourth player in NBA history to reach that mark on his first 10 NBA campaigns, even if one of them was a shortened one, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (17), Elvin Hayes (12), Oscar Robertson (11) and Wilt Chamberlain (10).
Oh, and yes, there was the 98-91 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, a team built to give the Heat trouble, and a team that beat Miami by 18 points earlier this season.
We never got into our normal flow on either end of the court. We had to work for everything. So we had to find a different way to win, deal with frustration, find ways to collectively find some resolve and some toughness and make plays down the stretch. We’ve proven now that we can play and compete and ultimately beat teams playing different styles.
The Heat did struggle with rebounding, losing the battle, but not by as much as expected against the Marc Gasol – Zach Randolph froncourt. While James had trouble getting his scoring going, he did score 14 points in the fourth quarter, and added 8 rebounds and 10 assists. Yes, a “bad” game for him. Dwyane Wade took charge for most of the game with 22 points on 9-16 from the field.
While the Heat couldn’t run against the Grizzlies, keeping their turnovers at a minimum (only 7) and not falling into the trap of taking bad shots the Griz usually force teams into, enjoying open looks on the perimeter as the Grizzlies focused on James helped them come away with the win.
These kind of games really prepare you for what the playoffs are about. I like it. We knew it was going to be a tough, grind-out game. These are the kind of games where, at some points, you get frustrated and you have to fight through it all. I’m glad we were able to do that and come away with a good home win.
All the winning streaks and good basketball are all for one thing – not LeBron James streaks of impressive statistics and keeping a great home record. It’s about being ready for the postseason, and for the kind of basketball we’ll see teams put up against the Heat, hoping to slow down their transition game. By winning in the right month against the right teams, the Heat are showing to us they’re as ready as ever to defend their title.