(Photo Credit: www.usatoday.com)
The Miami Heat have tied up the Eastern Conference Finals 1-1, after 48 minutes of intensely combative play. What many assumed would be a blowout, turned into a tit for tat battle. I previously predicted that the Heat would finish this series 4-1, but if things continue at such an elevated level of competition, fans may want to prepare themselves for a seven game series.
Defensively, Miami came much better prepared, holding the Indiana Pacers at 40 percent shooting from the field. Udonis Haslem was also thrown into the starting lineup, creating a more equal playing field in terms of size. Offensively, things looked pretty similar for Miami as they did in Game 1. Chris Bosh again scored just nine points while Mario Chalmers only had six. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James combined for 45, compared to 52 the first time around. However, one huge difference came from Norris Cole, who was scoreless in Game 1 but came out with 11 on Tuesday night.
And it was not just those 11 points that made Cole such an integral part of the game. Nor was it necessarily his two assists and one steal. Like I said in an older post, Cole brings a certain something to the table that not many other players possess.
“We’re very versatile when Norris is out there,” stated Wade after the game.
“Norris is about whatever it takes to win,” James chimed in.
Yes, Cole can shoot. And yes, Cole can defend. But perhaps most importantly, Cole creates opportunities for the rest of the team. He is quick on his feet (not just literally), calm under pressure, and plays smart basketball; plays Miami Heat basketball.
This “Miami Heat basketball” turned into the theme of the postgame press conference as Wade was quoted saying “the game turned into Miami Heat basketball,” and James explained, “we got back to playing Miami Heat basketball,” when asked what went right for them.
Even head coach Erik Spoelstra’s first few words were “we have to be who we are.”
On paper, basketball may be a game of numbers, a war of statistics; the deciding factor of a win or a loss boiling down to nothing more than a score. But those of us who really know the game, who live and breathe the game, understand that box scores do not even begin to scratch the surface.
Without confidence, a team cannot be good. Without faith, a team cannot win. Without an identity, a team cannot reach the championships.
“Miami Heat basketball” is what distinguishes the Heat from the 29 other teams in the league. And getting back to that is the core of what changed between Game 1 and Game 2.
“Today was just about how bad we wanted it…it wasn’t about x’s and o’s…we gotta do it our way.”
What Wade meant was the Miami Heat way.
“We were playing the type of basketball we wanted to play,” said James.
The type of basketball the Miami Heat wanted to play.
As long as the Heat remember who they are from here on out, seven games or not, they should be just fine. There is no such thing as a perfect game, so regardless of the stakes at hand, mistakes will be made. But what is important is for Miami to improve every step of the way, as they have been doing since the Big Three came together in 2010.
If Miami Heat basketball continues to be played, then the Miami Heat will prevail.