LeBron James Forgets What Team He Is On, Accidentally Sets Pick For Norris Cole

(Photo Credit: www.foxnews.com)

Apparently Miami Heat fans are not the only ones still in shock over LeBron James’ decision to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. With preseason going strong, the two teams met in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday night, each hoping to prove something to the other. Unfortunately for the Heat, they failed 122-119, currently falling 0-3. However, this is not to say that Cleveland played a perfect game; in an apparent moment of confusion, James set a screen for former teammate Norris Cole.

Fortunately for us, cjzero was able to capture the mistake, giving an ever-so-slight silver lining to Miami’s most recent loss. I cannot wait to see these two go against one another again! Talk about the perfect Christmas present.

The Heat will take on the Atlanta Hawks Tuesday night, hoping to finally get  a preseason win. This season may be a taxing one for our South Beach residents, but James or not, I continue to have faith in the organization and the raw talent at hand.

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Slow Starts No More: Eastern Conference Finals Game 4 Reaction

(Photo Credit: www.rollingout.com)

The Miami Heat held a lead after the first quarter for the first time in this series, taking the win 102-90 over the Indiana Pacers. For a team that struggled with slow starts for three out of the last four games, Miami certainly showed no signs of that habit on Monday night.

In fact, the Heat never trailed. Chris Bosh came out strong, scoring the team’s first eight points, after having totaled only nine points for each game of the Eastern Conference Finals previously.

“I wanted to be aggressive tonight, and I wanted to play good basketball. Sometimes it’s always difficult in my situation to kind of do that, but tonight was a good night,” Bosh explained after the game. 

What his “situation” is, is unclear, but his teammates and fans alike are undoubtedly glad he once again found his way. Bosh finished Game 4 with 25 points and 6 rebounds.

“I told him he was going to have a great game,” LeBron James said during the postgame news conference. “We got off to a fast start because of him.”

Bosh’s less than dazzling performances during the first three games of this series did not necessarily derail the series for the entire team, but his contributions certainly would have been nice.  Without his presence on the defensive end and his scoring abilities, his teammates had to pick up the slack. However, it was more than this fact that led Dwyane Wade to pop in unannounced on Bosh’s late dinner, Saturday night.

“The one cool thing about it was that his teammates were real aggressive to try to get him going,” stated head coach Erik Spoelstra when asked about Bosh’s surge, after Game 4. “That’s nice to see when your brothers are wanting you to be aggressive to get you opportunities.”

Wade did not want to scold Bosh for his shortcomings. Nor did he want to showcase how the rest of the team had been forced to compensate. He simply wanted to let Bosh know that regardless of what happened going forward, they had his back.

“How you can make a guy feel … that can change everything,” commented Wade, on trying to cheer up a frustrated Bosh.

And it worked. Game 4 belonged to Bosh, allowing slow starts for the Heat to become a thing of the past.

But Bosh was not the only one to play phenomenal basketball; James had quite a night himself.

Recording 32 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, James surpassed Michael Jordan for the most playoffs games (74) in which he scored 25 points or more. He was much more aggressive right off the bat on both ends of the court, made sure he got the looks he wanted, and helped set the pace of the match-up. Although James has been consistently strong during this postseason, he showed a whole new level of intensity and desire on Monday night. This is the James that needs to be present from here on out if Miami plans to three-peat.

Lance Stephenson may credit himself for the game the superstar had, claiming that he thought James’ trash-talk was “a sign of weakness” after Game 3, which motivated him to get back at the Pacers. However, James says otherwise.

“I don’t need any motivation, I’m motivated enough trying to get back to the Finals,” James said when asked about Stephenson after Game 4. “That’s motivating enough. Being one of the leaders of this team, I have to do my job and do my part to help us win. That’s what it’s all about.”

James may have enjoyed shutting Stephenson up by showing him what he is made of, but to say that he is more motivated by a competitor speaking out of turn than by the chance to win another championship, is highly unlikely. James has never been one to let another person get inside his head, and I doubt that will become the case anytime soon.

Game 5 is taking place Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. CT on ESPN. Up 3-1, Miami is potentially only one game away from moving onto the finals.

“Miami Heat Basketball”

(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.

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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.

 

Eastern Conference Finals Game 2: Twitter Recap

The Miami Heat fought for their lives on Tuesday night but managed to tie the Eastern Conference Finals, 1-1.

Stay tuned for my Game 2 Reaction!

Miami Heat Finally Fail

(Photo Credit: WonderPunter)

The Miami Heat’s 6-0 playoff run has come to an end with the Brooklyn Nets getting their first win of the series, 104-90; and as Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra put it, “to sum it up [the Nets] outplayed [them].”

Recording a franchise playoff record, the Nets went 15-of-25 in 3-pointers, the first key to their success. Joe Johnson hit five of the 25, scoring 19 points for the night. Andre Blatche also had a big game with 15 points and 10 rebounds. But individual statistics are not really important to understand this matchup, unless you are looking at LeBron James’ 28 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists (when Paul Pierce was asked about James’ game, he calmly stated “we said all along we had to limit the other guys, LeBron is gonna be LeBron.”) This Nets’ win came down to teamwork.

“It was a team effort,” Nets Coach Jason Kidd stated in his post game interview. “Everybody contributed. We trust everyone. We trust everybody.”

Brooklyn had six players in double figures, and the team totaled 28 assists on 38 field goals. To attribute the win to just one player would be a huge mistake.

Even the home crowd helped. Between the cheers for players like Pierce and Shaun Livingston, and the boos for the Big Three, location was everything for the Nets.

“We feed off that stuff,” exclaimed Pierce, grinning ear to ear. “Its like an adrenaline rush. I just love the atmosphere of the game of basketball.”

There was little to nothing for Heat fans to love about this particular game, however. James may have put up decent numbers, with Dwyane Wade also leaving a mark with 20 points, but it may as well just have been the two of them out there on the court. The Heat bench produced just 25 points (with starters Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers only scoring two and three respectively), compared to the 35 for the Nets. Chris Bosh fell flat with 12 points, not scoring a single field goal in the fourth quarter.

Spoelstra explained that they tried “to win the game more offensively” rather than focusing on defense, adding that “13 assists will not get it done.”

James also echoed those sentiments, admitting the Heat did not have “enough of a sense of urgency defensively” and that they allowed the Nets to “get whatever [shots] they wanted.”

The ideas of there not being an “I” in “team”, and defense winning games may be cliche concepts, old-school phrases that every coach in the book has once used in his life, but if this game does not shed light on them, who knows what would.

The Heat will take on the Nets again on Monday at 7 p.m. and must make some major adjustments before then.

“We need to closeout on their shooters,” said James, barely making eye contact with anyone during his interview, a permanent scowl on his face.

As for the Nets, according to Pierce, they are not too worried.

“We’re not scared. There’s no need to panic. Take it one game at a time.”

Halftime in Brooklyn

It is halftime in Game 3 of the Miami Heat/Brooklyn Nets series and the Nets are up 51-49. Perhaps Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra was on to something when he said that his team’s effort in Game 2 would not have been good enough on the road. At least not when the Nets have figured out that in order to hang around, they need to shift their gears completely.

Deron Williams wasted no time in proving that a scoreless game was a one-time thing for him, scoring within the first 30 seconds of the matchup. But was still kept to 2 of 7 while teammate Kevin Garnett only totaled four points. A more energetic and aggressive Paul Pierce came through with nine, but no one was working harder for Brooklyn than Andre Blatche; Blatche finished the half with 13 points and six rebounds, really giving the Nets the push they needed. If I did not know any better, I would assume Blatche was the veteran of the group.

While LeBron James had a quick start, scoring 16 points in the first quarter, the Nets kept him to just two in the second, both by way of free-throws; and his frustration showed. James had me holding my breath as he angrily dunked the ball off the clock, before stepping to the free-throw line, a reaction that may have been called a technical foul by some. The Big Three combined still have 36 of the Heat’s 49 points, but rushed shots and exasperation has led the squad to fall behind.

Miami has certainly showed good ball movement, steady defense and control over the pace of the game but being as consistent as they were on Thursday night is no longer enough when the Nets have stepped up their game to match.

The Heat bench needs to establish it’s presence if a 3-0 series lead is in it’s future. As talented as James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh are, they need help, and they need it fast. Attention Shane Battier, Ray Allen, Mario Chalmers…

Wade for the Win: Heat/Bobcats Game One Recap

Prior to Sunday’s matchup against the Charlotte Bobcats, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra made it clear that he would not be limiting Dwyane Wade’s minutes in game 1 of their playoff series. Many thought this was a bad decision, one that would lead to fatigue and sloppy play on Wade’s part, but it turns out the joke is on us. Wade walked away with 23 points in 34 minutes of play, only outdone by teammate LeBron James who had 27 in 38.

Points were not all that Wade contributed. The Heat had a rocky start, taking rushed, forced shots, their tempo out of control. It took almost two minutes for anything to drop for Miami, with Wade giving them a step-back jumper. Wade then hit a crucial hook shot around the eight-minute mark, granting the Heat their first lead.

During the first quarter, the Bobcats took full advantage of their opponents’ struggles, at least up until Al Jefferson hobbled off the court with two minutes remaining. According to Jefferson, he felt a “rip” in his foot after an awkward landing, and his diagnosis has now been confirmed as a strained plantar fascia. He was given two painkiller shots in order to return, and for now remains a go for game 2. This slight hiccup aside, the Bobcats finished the quarter strong, with a 23-19 lead over the Heat.

Although Miami was still behind for most of the second quarter, they slowed down their pace, leaving room for players like Norris Cole to go to work. Cole hit two quick shots, first a 3-pointer and then a driving layup, bringing the Heat within two. James finally made his first second quarter appearance with seven minutes on the clock, and roughly three minutes later the Heat took off on a 9-0 run. Even on a bad foot, Jefferson certainly brought his talents to the table with six points in nine minutes of play after returning from the locker room. But it was not enough; the Heat took the lead 49-42 at the half.

Going into the third, Wade stood at 10 points while James had 12, but it was once again Wade’s aggressiveness that led the Heat forward. Wade, coupled with James Jones’ 12-point surprise performance and the consistently solid James, held the Bobcats to a 72-65 lead, overcoming an energized Kemba Walker, who had eight points and an assist for the quarter.

The game got away from the Bobcats for good during the fourth, with Wade once again steamrolling the effort, putting in eight points and two assists. Charlotte had a glimpse of hope at the start of the quarter with a giant dunk for Josh McRoberts over Chris “Birdman” Andersen, putting them only five behind, but James quickly crushed that dream and there was no looking back. The Heat won 99-88, placing the series at 1-0.

The Heat play the Bobcats once again in Miami on Wednesday, at 6 p.m. CT.