Mar 11, 2011, 1:51 AM EDT
The Miami Heat are still anything but a finished product. Their offense still relies far too much on LeBron and Wade freestyling out on the perimeter while the other watches from the opposite side of the floor. Their defense has been up-and-down lately. Mike Miller has been a huge disappointment, and Bosh has been far more inconsistent than he was supposed to be. These are not who the Heat thought they would be when LeBron announced he was taking his talents to south beach and the Heat had their pre-season celebration.
The Heat didn’t look perfect on Thursday. LeBron and Wade still have very little synergy between them, even though the Heat finally went to some Wade/James pick-and-roll sets in crunch-time. Even though Chris Bosh was finally involved and aggressive against the Lakers, the Heat offense didn’t really use him to make things easier for Wade and James, or vice versa — they just had three primary options instead of two.
All of that being said, the Heat showed just how dangerous they can be when they get something out of their supporting cast. The Heat never appeared to be rolling on all cylinders, but they got offense from enough different sources to keep the Lakers off-balance. Bosh was a force on the low block and on the glass, at long last. Mike Miller drained some catch-and-shoot threes and made some nice plays off the dribble. Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who the Lakers didn’t exploit on defense, had some nice moments from the high post and at the rim. Mario Chalmers and Mike Bibby both kept the floor spaced with some catch-and-shoot threes.
With those players taking the pressure off of James and Wade, they were able to help the Heat win without having to do anything. Neither player shot particularly well, but James was able to facilitate the offense and Wade had some key drives late in the game that put the Lakers away. And Wade did a great job against Kobe Bryant, who always seems to press a little bit when he plays LeBron; he’s now dropped eight of his last 10 games against James’ teams.
The Heat are capable of being more than a two-man team. They have shooters, they have guys who can make plays, and they have Chris Bosh. Time will tell if the Heat can become more than the sum of their parts when it matters most, but Thursday’s game was a reminder that they don’t need to be more than the sum of their parts to beat one of the best teams in the league.