Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Washington Wizards Derail Miami Heat

After defeating the Chicago Bulls two days ago, the Miami Heat ran into some problems against the Washington Wizards, losing 86-84 on April 21. With the loss, the Heat will have to settle for the second seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra decided to rest LeBron James and Chris Bosh against the Wizards, but the Heat received an unexpected surprise early in the first quarter, when Dwyane Wade dislocated his finger. With Wade out, the Heat's role players were forced to carry the load against the Wizards.

Even in defeat, Spoelstra seemed pleased with the way the role players played, and he wasn't too worried about their position in the conference standings.

"This was a great game for the rest of the guys," Spoelstra told reporters after the game. "To be able to compete, the guys showed a lot of toughness, especially when we got down double digits, to find a different way and not have to rely on Dwyane and Chris and LeBron. There were some brilliant, tough plays on both ends."

Mario Chalmers and Shane Battier led the Heat's offense against the Wizards, finishing with 16 points apiece. Dexter Pittman and Norris Cole also played well for the Heat, finishing with 12 and 11 points respectively.

Even without the "big three," the Heat maintained their defensive mindset, holding the Wizards to 41 percent shooting from the field. Given the problems the Heat have faced in the second half of the 2011/12 NBA season, it's certainly nice to see that they're capable of playing solid defense without their superstars.

However, I didn't particularly like Spoelstra's decision to keep LeBron on the bench, particularly when it was obvious Wade wasn't going to return to the game. He'll certainly get some flak for that, and I can only hope Spoelstra's decision doesn't come back to haunt them in the playoffs.

Miami's next game will be against the Houston Rockets on April 22.

David is a Miami Heat fan that has followed the team for 16 years. Follow him on twitter @davidkingwriter and check out his blog.
 
Sources:
Associated Press, "Miami Heat Look for Another Win Against Wizards"

Miami Heat Look for Another Win Against Washington Wizards

The Miami Heat will try to move closer to the top spot in the NBA's Eastern Conference, when they face the Washington Wizards on April 21. The Heat moved within one and a half games of the top spot with their April 19 win against the conference leading Bulls, legitimizing their hopes of finishing the season with the top seed.

The Heat manhandled the Wizards in the only encounter between the two teams this season, walking away with the 106-89 victory on Feb. 10.

At this point in the season, the Wizards are only playing for pride, and the Heat shouldn't have any problems against them at the American Airlines Arena. The Heat have been extremely dominant at home, while the Wizards have struggled on the road all season.

Miami's role players and defense has given fans a lot of reasons for concern since the All-Star break, but coach Erik Spoelstra seems to have found a way to turn things around. They've tightened up their defense in the past few weeks, and their role players are back to putting significant numbers on the board.

Unfortunately for the Heat, their poor play in the second half of the 2011/12 season has cost them the top spot in the east. They'll need to close the season out strong - and a little bit of luck, if they want to secure the number one seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Given how well the Heat have played at home, home-court advantage will definitely be beneficial to them come playoff time. Spoelstra doesn't really seem concerned with the standings though, and he's confident the Heat will be fine regardless of the final standings.

"We needed to address our consistency, our identity, make sure that we're playing at a high level going into the postseason," Spoelstra told reporters. "That is, first and foremost, our priority. Obviously the standings are something that we're aware of. And when you have an opportunity to play for it, you do. But in terms of it being bigger than anything ... I think players have the proper perspective about it."

David is a Miami Heat fan that has followed the team for 16 years. Follow him on twitter @davidkingwriter and check out his blog.
 
Sources:
Stats LLC, "Wizards-Heat Preview"

Miami Heat’s Defense Stifles Bulls

The Miami Heat pulled off one of their most important wins of the season on April 19, defeating the Chicago Bulls 83-72. With the win, the Heat are now one and a half games behind the Bulls in the Eastern Conference standings. To make things even better for the Heat, the Bulls will face tough opponents in their next two games, starting with the Dallas Mavericks on April 21.

With the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs on the line, things got pretty physical when the two rivals met at the American Airlines Arena. However, the Heat maintained their composure, turning up their defense in the second half and securing the victory.

"This is what the postseason is all about," LeBron James told reporters after the game. "Both teams struggling to score offensively, and defensively, two very good defensive teams. It's a possession game. That's what happens in the postseason. The game slows down. Not many fast-break points. You've got to work for every attempt, work for every shot."

With three of Miami's four remaining games against lesser teams, their chances of winning the top spot in the east are pretty good right now.

LeBron put up another impressive performance against the Bulls, finishing with 27 points (game-high), 11 rebounds, and 6 assists. Dwyane Wade also played well against Chicago, putting up 18 points and 5 assists.
Chris Bosh didn't suit up against the Bulls - who were without Derrick Rose, but it really didn't matter.

Dexter Pittman and Udonis Haslem made the most of their elongated minutes, finishing with a combined 10 points and 17 rebounds.

The Heat have had their share of problems since the All-Star break, but they're finally getting back on track. Their defense is once again one of the best in the NBA, holding the Bulls to 36 percent shooting from the field on Thursday. Miami's role players are also starting to step up their play, putting up decent numbers in their last few outings. As long as they keep it up, they should be fine come playoff time.

David is a Miami Heat fan that has followed the team for 16 years. Follow him on twitter @davidkingwriter and check out his blog.
 
Sources:
Associated Press, "LeBron James, Heat notch key win against Bulls"

Saturday, February 14, 2015

LeBron James Leads Miami Heat to Come from Behind Victory Against Rockets

The Miami Heat bounced right back from their embarrassing loss to the Washington Wizards, defeating the Houston Rockets 97-88 on April 21. Unfortunately for the Heat, their win didn't mean much, as their loss to the Wizards diminished all hopes of securing the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

LeBron James suited up on Sunday, but the Rockets held their ground against the Heat, taking a five point lead into the fourth quarter. LeBron wasn't about to close out the season at the American Airlines Arena with a loss though, taking over the game in the final quarter. When it was all said and done, Heat fans showed their appreciation for "The King," chanting "M-V-P!" as the Heat superstar headed back to the locker-room.

"It was a good team win, a lot of guys stepped up," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters after the game. "It was good to have LeBron back, but a lot of guys contributed. … I think LeBron is having a historic season"

With the win, the Heat finish the 2011/12 NBA season tied with the San Antonio Spurs for the best home-record in the league.

Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers, and Chris Bosh were a little too banged up to suit up against the Rockets, but LeBron and a handful of role players stepped up in their absence. LeBron shot the ball well against the Rockets, converting on 11 of his 21 field goal attempts. He finished with 32 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists.

Rookie Norris Cole broke out of his funk against the Rockets, finishing with 16 points, and 4 rebounds. The Heat also got some much needed help from Mike Miller and Joel Anthony, who finished with 11 points and 6 rebounds apiece.

Given how much the Heat's role players have struggled since the All-Star break, it's certainly nice to see them playing solid basketball. If they keep it up in the postseason, they'll be a serious force to be reckoned with.

Miami's next game will be against the Boston Celtics on April 24.

David is a Miami Heat fan that has followed the team for 16 years. Follow him on twitter @davidkingwriter and check out his blog.
 
Sources:
Associated Press, "LeBron James tallies 32 as Dwyane Wade-less Heat pull…"