Miami Heat – Ray Allen Takes Over for LeBron James

It had to happen at one point or another during the season; Ray Allen stealing the spotlight from the real stars of the Miami Heat, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James not just by hitting the game winning shot (which he has already done this season) but by carrying the team on his back in the fourth quarter.

You never forget the people who got you there: LeBron James finished with 30 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists against his former team, including dishing out the assist to Ray Allen to hit the game winning shot. No one is complaining anymore about James not being “clutch.” A) He has that NBA title ring the flaunt. B) Dishing it to an open Ray Allen is never a bad idea.

Chris Bosh finished with 23 points and 7 rebounds, Dwyane Wade finished with 18 points. Most importantly, the Heat have a sixth-man, a bench player who they can rely on to be consistent coming on and delivering in double figures, not to mention taking the pressure off the stars and carrying the team in the clutch if needed.

Allen finished with 17 points in 23 minutes, shooting 6-11 from the field. Ray Allen scored 2 points in the first 3 quarters and 15 in the 4th quarter. That’s his most points in a 4th quarter since March 8, 2009 against the Magic.

Yes, remember, the Heat were down 108-101 with 1:58 remaining. Ray Allen scored seven of the last nine points by the Heat, with James adding two and Dwyane Wade participating in guarding the lead by blocking Jeremy Pargo’s 7-foot jumper with 3 seconds left on the clock. The Heat went back to their defensive problems that some thought were solved in the previous three wins, but still found a way to remain undefeated at home, improving to 10-3 this season.

When the NBA champions shoot 52.2% and still find themselves facing certain defeat, something is definitely wrong in the kingdom of South Beach. LeBron James turning the ball over 7 times (Heat had 18 TO’s) was a big part of it. The Heat failed to create points from the fast break and make a meaningful defensive stand except for the final two minutes of the game. Enough to put away the Cavs, who were playing without Kyrie Irving but were probably ultra-motivated facing LeBron James.

The Heat once again allowed too many three point shots, with the Cavs going 14-31 from beyond the arc. The Heat have allowed the third-most 3-point tries in the NBA this season, behind only Denver and Houston. The rotations are simply not working, mostly because Dwyane Wade isn’t completely healthy and Ray Allen, defensively, isn’t fitting the schemes up until now. Shane Battier going down in the third quarter could turn out to be a major blow.

When you have so many good things going for you, and the Heat have plenty of them, you rigorously search for the imperfections and the problems. Signs of things that might not be disastrous during the regular season, but come crashing down in the playoffs. The Miami Heat have a more talented roster than they did when they won the title last season, but unless Erik Spoelstra finds a way to close down the defensive gaps, going all the way once again, even in the East, isn’t such a given anymore.