Playing without Chris Bosh, the Miami Heat needed the best of LeBron James for the first time this season. As expected, the MVP delivered, coming with quite a lot of attitude and taunting, further infuriating the Toronto Raptors crowd.
With Bosh staying in Miami to be by his wife’s side as she gives birth to their second child, the Miami Heat waited until the Toronto Raptors went small and took advantage of that, winning 104-95 while James himself scored in double figures (35) points for the 500th consecutive game, making it a cause for celebration among basketball stat geeks everywhere. The only other players with more consecutive games of 10 points or more are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Karl Malone and Moses Malone.
And it didn’t take James much to get there – he was at 10 points before the first quarter ended, finishing the game with 35, adding 8 rebounds, 8 assists all while shooting a perfect 8-of-8 from the line. It seemed the harder the Toronto crowd booed, him, the better he felt about his game, even adding a little dance near the end with the ball, which might have been disrespectful in the eyes of some, but there are many who think the league needs more antics like that, of players rubbing it in to teams and fans.
Dwyane Wade was at his sidekick best with 20 points, but it was when the Heat’s bench kicked into action that the game started swinging their way. The Raptors couldn’t hang on to their early lead and looked extremely lacking when Chris Andersen and Ray Allen were on the floor. Allen finished the game scoring 14 points, hitting 3 three pointers, while Andersen added 6 points and plenty of defense and energy.
Maybe the biggest news for the Heat wasn’t just their first away win of the season, but also Michael Beasley making his debut and even contributing on his first appearance. He hit back-to-back three pointers in the 4 minutes he’s played, which means there’s a good chance we’re going to see slightly more of him very soon, adding more firepower to their usually excellent bench. With Udonis Haslem losing offensive prowess with every season that goes by, adding Beasly might help them to counter that problem.
The Miami Heat still aren’t playing in championship caliber level, but that’s expected early this season. Their whole 27-game winning streak began after a game in Toronto, so maybe this win sets them off on a new and dominant way as well? A lot of it depends on how much the Heat plan on keeping it at a coasting level before starting to take things more seriously, not to mention having all big three available for games. Right now, it just feels they’re still enjoying their coronation ceremony from a week ago.
When I see a stat like that, I’m like ‘Wow,’ because I know the history of the game, I know the guys who paved the way for myself and my teammates. To be in such a great class like that, it’s an amazing feeling.