Miami Heat – LeBron James Does Quite Well With a Mask

LeBron James

No villains, and LeBron James isn’t a superhero. Just the best player in the NBA, who happens to do quite well when he has to wear a mask on his face thanks to Serge Ibaka. It did nothing to slow him down as the Miami Heat were the next in line to roll over the pathetic New York Knicks, beating them 108-82.

It seems like the Miami Heat are once again warming up at the right time. February last year was when they began their 27-game win streak, and they’ve gone 9-1 through February 2014. LeBron James posted the first 30 points, 8 rebounds while shooting 57% month since Shaquille O’Neal in March 2003. Things seem to be clicking like they’re supposed to once again.

And there is no team better than the Knicks to make you feel good about yourself. The Heat scored 66 points in the paint while shooting 60.8% from the field. James scored 18 of his 31 points on drives to the basket, going 7-of-8 from the field on 10 drives, and also picking up four fouls. He and Dwyane Wade combined to shoot 18-of-20 inside the paint¬†the 4th-highest percentage they’ve shot in the paint together as teammates.

Wade finished with 23 points on 10-of-13 from the field, and three more Heat players (Norris Cole, Mario Chalmers and Ray Allen) each scored 11 points. Uncharacteristically, Miami hardly shot from beyond the arc (15 attempts, making 40% of them) because the Knicks’ defense was at its worst, pretty much allowing anyone in and blowing every possible switch and rotation the Heat forced them into.

This was another game for those hoping to Carmelo Anthony on a different team next season to feel good about themselves. Anthony scored 29 points and was able, for most of the game, to look like he can matchup with James’ scoring pace. However, it didn’t get him or his team any closer to winning, especially when the Heat turned on their defense, allowing only 32 second-half points and outscoring the Knicks by 21 points through the third and fourth quarters.

Anthony had an awful time against Shane Battier, going 3-of-10 from the field while guarded by him, compared to 8-of-10 when it was everyone else. But the Knicks’ problems aren’t Anthony struggling with a particular defender. It’s about his teammates, like Tim Hardaway Jr., with a -35 throughout the game, being awful on both ends. The same goes for Raymond Felton, who is probably distracted with other things at the moment, or Amare Stoudemire, once again looking like a huge waste of money that the Knicks would have been wise to get rid of.

With wins over the Knicks (twice), Suns, Thunder, Warriors, Mavs and Bulls, this was Miami’s best month of the season. The defense looked a lot more focused and consistent than before, while Dwyane Wade has been playing his best baksetball of the season. The Heat are still trailing the Indiana Pacers in the lead for the Eastern conference, but with this kind of basketball and form, they’ll be able to overtake them as well.

As for the Knicks, this season is just about over. And so are their chances of keeping Carmelo Anthony for another season, getting a sense that no matter what he does, he’s not going to put this team on the right track for more than two-three games.

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