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NBA Playoffs: Heat’s lack of discipline ends their season

Jun 13, 2011, 12:37 AM EDT

Dallas Mavericks v Miami Heat - Game Six Getty Images

The Miami Heat were the most talented team in the NBA this past season. They were two fourth-quarter collapses away from sweeping the NBA Finals. None of that matters after they lost Game 6 by a final score of 105-95, and the series by a final score of 4-2.

Miami’s losses in Game 2 and Game 4 can be directly traced back to atrocious late-game execution on both ends of the floor and inexcusable performances from LeBron James. Miami had chances to win Game 5, but that game was ultimately decided by a red-hot Dallas shooting performance that the Heat had little hope of matching.

So what happened in Game 6? The Heat, a team capable of doing anything, failed to do the most basic of basketball tasks throughout the night, and their lack of fundamental execution ultimately ended their season.

Miami looked nervous all game long, and while their offense didn’t go stagnant because of too much one-on-one play, it did often evolve into a game of “hot potato,” with the Heat forcing passes left and right and committing a series of turnovers that ultimately destroyed them. Miami gave the ball up 17 times on Sunday, and those turnovers led to an incredible 27 points for the Mavericks. Miami was supposed to be the best fast-break team in the league, but Dallas punished the Heat in transition all series long thanks to their superior discipline.

Miami’s lack of discipline didn’t only show up when they tossed the ball away. With the pressure on them, the Heat failed to do one of the most fundamental and simple tasks in basketball: make free throws. Miami had Dallas in foul trouble for nearly the duration of the game, but missed a stunning 13 free throws, which turned a 15-free throw disparity into only eight extra points for the Heat.

On both offense and defense, the Heat repeatedly simply gave up possessions that they should have treated like the most important things on the planet. Wade, who had carried the Heat through the first five games of the series, was on tilt in Game six, forcing up inexcusable deep jumpers and trying to attack the basket wildly when the lanes weren’t there for him. LeBron James tried, but he had some inexcusable turnovers of his own, most of which were the result of over-passing or trying to force a drive instead of taking an open jumper.

The Heat also let their tempers flare up when they should have been focused on the task at hand. Directly after an impressive 14-0 run that dug Miami out of a 12-point deficit in the first half, Udonis Haslem allowed DeShawn Stevenson to engage him in an altercation, and Mario Chalmers and Joel Anthony both made things work by coming into the conflict. Dallas had already called a time-out, but the extra delay and Dallas technical free throw that resulted from the fracas sapped all the momentum that the Heat had going for them. A Wade technical on a charging call that didn’t go his way later in the game made things even clearer: Miami was clearly rattled after losing three of its past four games and having fourth-quarter leads in all of them.

The Heat also failed to box out at key times, and while the Mavericks only ended up with one more offensive board than the Heat did, several of those offensive boards came in the fourth quarter, when the Heat desperately needed to get the ball and try and get their offense going.

In the end, what did the Heat in wasn’t a poorly-constructed roster or proper offensive and defensive strategy. It was their mentality. With the Heat’s talent, they should have coldly and methodically carved through the NBA all season long and put Dallas away when they had the chance to win an NBA championship. Instead, they allowed themselves to have a roller coaster of a regular season marked by poor late-game execution and losses to elite teams, gritted through the first three rounds of the playoffs thanks to stifling defense and heroic late-game play, and blew the NBA Finals.

The Heat have the right roster pieces to win the championship next season, assuming it occurs. Spolestra is more than capable as a coach. Their stars have shown that they are capable of playing together on both ends of the floor. But if they want to reach their ultimate goal, they are going to have to tighten things up next season. They can’t forget to play defense on the nights their offense is rolling. They can’t let teams back into games by committing silly fouls. They can’t try to get caught up in macho posturing in an NBA Finals elimination game. They can’t throw the ball away when it matters most. They can’t miss free throws.

In 2011, the Heat showed that they have enough talent to win a champions. In 2012, the Heat will have to show that they have the maturity and discipline to be champions.

  1. royalsfaninfargo - Jun 13, 2011 at 12:48 AM

    I dont agree that the Heat have the most talented TEAM. They have 3 of the most talented players (if not the most talented players), but their bench, quite frankly, sucks. They had Juwan Howard, Jamal Magloire, Big Z, and Eric Dampier taking up 4 very valuable spots on their bench. If Miami would have had any money at all to spend those guys arent anywhere near this team. They will have to get alot better behind the big 3 if they want to win a championship.

    • mcsenerd - Jun 13, 2011 at 1:10 AM

      The Mavs were closer to closing this thing out in 5 games than the over-rated Heat were in winning in 4… Get real. Think about that game 3…Dirk’s gonna hit that shot at a better than 70% clip. He just blew it…it was a good look and if he’d had hit it…they’d have a real chance at winning that game in OT.

      Look all props to the Heat. Nice collection of superstars…but the national media and most folks just didn’t give the Mavs any credit. I thought that Marion was PHENOMENAL in this series. Talk about rejuvenation… I’m hard pressed to decide between him and “Jet” Terry for the real MVP of this series or playoffs. He just really impressed me on both ends of the floor.

      Look…even if LeBron had been playing up to his potential…the Heat would still have had trouble with this Mavs team. Did you watch the games the Mavs dropped? You think all those missed wide-open shots were always going to clang off the rim? If they’d have hit their shots all series long…they’d have had their way with this Heat team in every single game.

      Finally…a championship for every Texas franchise. Who says it’s all Football in the Lone Star State?

  2. digitalpoo - Jun 13, 2011 at 1:07 AM

    I’ll never understand why James decided to try and pass out every time he drove to the basket or why he put up hero 3’s at the most unnecessary times.

  3. delius1967 - Jun 13, 2011 at 1:11 AM

    It boggles my mind that anyone could say the Heat were the most talented team in the league. Not even close. Not even remotely close.

    What is the justification for that? James, Wade, and Bosh? There are five guys on the court, remember, not to mention the ones on the bench. This is a team that was starting Mike Bibby at point guard. Yeesh.

    There were at least three or four teams this season that were more talented, starting with the one on the other side of the court. The Celtics, Lakers, and Spurs would also qualify.

  4. goforthanddie - Jun 13, 2011 at 1:12 AM

    Miami, as a team, is pitiful. They don’t even have a real starting five. Tell Riley to trade LeBitch for a real PG, maybe a center, and the draft picks they threw away, and Miami as a team improves immensely.

  5. kyleortonsarm - Jun 13, 2011 at 1:14 AM

    Thanks to Miami choking so bad I can no longer use my “Dallas Eagles/Philadelphia Mavericks No Title Ever” jokes at work. Thanks a lot LeBron. Now I’ll have to go back to making Eagle/Charger references when I mention giant chokers.

  6. diablito0402 - Jun 13, 2011 at 1:30 AM

    Dude but what do you expect out of their bench, with those 3 max contracts for the three stooges, all they can get for their bench is a bunch of minimun salary players, look at eddie house, he talks so much crap and only plays 2,1/2 mins a game. No excuses 3 supedstars where signed to win a tittle and it didnt happen, choke job, no sympathy for the choosen one sorry the choker one my bad.

  7. goawayeverybody - Jun 13, 2011 at 1:41 AM

    Dallas has talent to burn. This is evidenced by the fact that the Mavericks repeatedly did their best even with their main starters sitting on the bench!

    • aboogy123456 - Jun 13, 2011 at 8:56 AM

      What’s crazy is that dallas gets back caron butler and Roddy b next year. If they can keep Tyson Chandler that would be a scary team and possibly better than even this year.

  8. downtowndanny - Jun 13, 2011 at 2:17 AM

    Heat Fans, where you at???? Yall was doing a lot of woofing, what happened? Chris Bosh what was that in the tunnel, all dramatic and theatric, not a good look dude. Man up! D Wade, you shoulda came home and got with D Rose, but instead you brought some suckas into the fold. Lebron, whassup with those weak pep talks, seriously I woulda cut you off in the huddle, it sounded so phony, fabricated emotions, not a good look. I’m happy for j Kidd.

  9. passerby23 - Jun 13, 2011 at 2:59 AM

    I wonder if the “lack of discipline” problem can be shored up easily for the Heat. When any one of the Big 3 are making shots in isolation in crunch time, we say Miami looks great. If they’re off, the offense gets stagnant, they settle for long jumpers, and execution fails them. So, how did you ensure that this doesn’t happen in the 4th quarter when defenses tighten up and more one-on-one play is needed to make a big play? Miami may always suffer from this inconsistency because with Lebron and Wade it’s never clear who is going to take the big shot. This leads to ball watching and poor execution.

    Their defense carried them the first three rounds. Boston essentially outplayed Miami in 3 of the 5 games (with a one-armed Rondo and no Shaq), but couldn’t score in the last few minutes of games. If Miami loses that series or the Chicago series, it’s probably an entirely different discussion about the Heat.

    I wonder who else they can pick up in free agency to make them more championship-calibre. I think it’s faulty to assume they’ll just be back here again next year. It’s not easy to get there. If Lebron or Wade were to be injured, they probably get bounced by Philly in the first round.

  10. marksamuelson - Jun 13, 2011 at 3:41 AM

    Three words: Dallas WON it!

  11. bittersonicsfan - Jun 13, 2011 at 6:12 AM

    Team has officially trumped talent. Dallas is for real and Miami needs something else. There’s no way to tell and it probably couldn’t and won’t happen, but … Would Steve Nash in a Heat uniform be enough to push Miami over the top? I know he’s far from his prime, but the dude still has elite level skills. Pass first point guard with an uncanny ability to penetrate and shoot, sounds like heaven for Miami.

  12. diablito0402 - Jun 13, 2011 at 6:28 AM

    Is this guy who wrote this article joking? Hes talking about how the heat blew this finals, how about writing about the mavs taking the bull by the horn and took this series like taking candy from a choking baby. Ohhhh i forgot,,,, the writer is another heat apologist, sorry about that.

    • loungefly74 - Jun 13, 2011 at 8:32 AM

      the mavs won this series and deserve it…but i wouldn’t call kurt an apologist, the heat were favored to win especially after the way they dismantled the c’s and bulls.

      • liko81 - Jun 13, 2011 at 11:18 AM

        And the Mavs didn’t do their share of dismantling? They swept – that’s “swept” – the Lakers, a team heavily favored pre-playoffs for a Finals appearance. They beat their next team, the Thunder, 4-1, admittedly after three weeks’ rest with OKC and Memphis taking it to Game 7. The Finals were won by the best team, and that team had talent in abundance; veteran players don’t get to be veterans without first being talented young players. So maybe, if the Big 3 stay together for another 4-5 years, they’ll be the Dirk, Kidd and Terry of the 2015 Finals.

      • Kurt Helin - Jun 13, 2011 at 12:06 PM

        If people would read all the posts on this site they would notice a lot about how the Mavs won this thing on their merits.

      • loungefly74 - Jun 13, 2011 at 4:25 PM

        agree kurt, the mavs outhustled the heat.

        the mavs did a great job destroying the west in their march to a title, liko81, i am not denying that. i was stating vegas (who is not in the business to lose money) had the heat winning. that’s all. i think the talk of the heat failing is not to be in an “apologist” aspect. heck, i’m still bummed my Lakers lost. (they were favored to win it all this year.)

    • southbeachtalent - Jun 13, 2011 at 12:26 PM

      So the bull has one horn?

      Read the article again and attempt to comprehend what you are reading. Oh, and remember to take of your “heat hater” goggles. Took the series like candy from a baby? Wow were you watching the NBA finals? We’ll be back… even better.

  13. tumsman2 - Jun 13, 2011 at 8:00 AM

    LeBun thought he could ‘buy’ a championship. All of Cleveland and all of the Country are laughing at him. (best laugh i’ve had in years). Maybe now the comparisons to Jordan can stop. There is no comparison. Pippenville is an idiot.

  14. southbeachtalent - Jun 13, 2011 at 9:05 AM

    So according to you guys the Eastern Conference champs suck?? Where does that put your team?? The Heat were favored to win coming into this series and did have the most talented team in the league. In the end the better team won, not the most talented. But you haters are so blind by your hate that you can’t see straight. We will be back next year with a much better bench. The Heat let this slip away with two horrible 4th quarters, that’s what it comes down to.

    For the first year together we did great. We will be back.

    • chicago240 - Jun 13, 2011 at 9:57 AM

      Well if you are back, hopefully between now and then, you can tone down the arrogance, avoid the pre-season coronation, and perhaps have Wade give LeBron some tips on how NOT to talk to the media. His comments after the loss about all the “haters” going back to their little lives while he’ll still be fine enjoying his wonderful life is just adding fuel to a fire that should be put out so we can all enjoy his talent. Sometimes it’s okay just to shut up, take your lumps and move on.

      • southbeachtalent - Jun 13, 2011 at 12:23 PM

        Hopefully your chicago team is back as well. Me arrogant? Oh yeah big time…

        I’m glad he fired back that way, hell the media is lucky I’m not LeBron I would have gone off long time ago. The media and hate filled fans have to keep in mind that he is 26. What were you doing when you were 26? Would you have been able to take all that pressure and criticism gracefully? Especially after a Finals elimination?? But it’s OK I guess, at the end of the day LeBron is still more popular than Dirk even after a championship. Sad but true. The Hate will continue to grow and only make the Heat organization hungrier. Despite the fact the Dallas will be the defending champs next year the Heat will still have the bullseye on their backs.

        Go Heat!!

      • chicago240 - Jun 13, 2011 at 2:36 PM

        Just to clarify SBT. When I say “you”, I’m talking about the Heat Organization. I really don’t care diddly about your personal shortcomings. That’s between you and your therapist.

  15. rbrown4495 - Jun 13, 2011 at 9:13 AM

    Congratulations to Dallas for a great year and to the Heat for making it as far as they did with only half a team to play with. It is remarkable that Miami could make it to the finals with no center, no point guard, no bench and no Mike Miller who was hurt all year. Miami counted on him to take the heat off the team with his 40% 3 pt shooting, but it never materialized and he didnt play well even when he returned. I believe that once they tweak the roster next year they will be a favorite again to get a championship, that is unless Dwight Howard moves to L.A., Chicago, or another contender, ouch.

  16. omniusprime - Jun 13, 2011 at 9:37 AM

    Queen James has shown yet again why he’s the King of Choke! After leading 2-1 in games in the series Queen James led the South Beach Crybabies to 3 straight losses because he’s the biggest loser in the NBA. About time that the dimwitted pundits realize that their annointed King of Choke will never measure up to their misplaced hype. So funny to see Queen James choke again after all that self serving blowarding when he and Bosh joined the Heatstroke. I didn’t bother to watch the NBA Finals since these were two perrennial losers going at it. I’ll wait for next year and hope that Kobe Bryant will lead the Lakers back to the championship stage to win his 6th ring. I’m sure that Kobe and the Lakers will be far more motivated next year than they were losing against the Mavs.

  17. mogogo1 - Jun 13, 2011 at 10:16 AM

    What a clueless article. Outside of the big 3, Miami is a lottery club that would get killed by most college teams. They’ve never been the overall most talented team and possibly never will be due to having three max contracts. They’re going to need to convince some guys to play for the minimum to collect a ring.

    And their biggest problem in the Finals was the fact that even their big 3 don’t view themselves as a team. Who’s the leader in clutch time? In the games it was Wade, but you know LeBron imagines himself in that role. They force so many passes because they’re not comfortable playing together when the game means something. But they’re great for Sportscenter highlights early in the year.

    • southbeachtalent - Jun 13, 2011 at 12:30 PM

      Killed by most college teams??? LOL that’s beyond laughable. I’m niot even sure why I,m responding.

      mogogo, you are aware they are eastern conference champions right? They beat every team in the East, they came up two games short of winning it all…their first year. WOW

      any college team! LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

  18. memphisyinzer - Jun 13, 2011 at 10:59 AM

    Does anyone know how to cancel a bid on E-Bay?

    I put in a $20 bid for a “Mickey Mouse Outfit”
    Now it seems I’m only 7 hours away from possibly owning the Miami Heat.

  19. nudeman - Jun 13, 2011 at 11:39 AM

    I wonder what Scottie Pippen is thinking today. A week or so ago he crowned Lebron the greatest ever, greater than Michael Jordan.


    Not so much.

    Lebron is Wizard of Oz’s Cowardly Lion. Zero heart. Unfathomable that a player so talented and dominant in mid season games against the Timberwolves absolute fades into the background when it counts the most. Colin Cowherd compared him to Wilt, and contrasted him to MJ this way: Lebron and Wilt were prodigies from the age of 14 and never really had to scrap to make a team, or even be the best. Jordan was cut from his HS basketball team as a freshman. Consequently, one learned to scrap and claw to always be the best; the other two were crowned “the best” from an early age. Much was expected of them and the pressure was too much.

    Makes sense to me.

    • utteke - Jun 13, 2011 at 1:25 PM

      It was just announced today that Lebron James will be starring in a new version of The Wizard of Oz. He will be playing the roles of the scarecrow, tin man, and Lion due to the fact that he has no brain, no heart, and no courage.

      Co-starring will be Gloria James as the Wicked Witch of Delonte West…

  20. baboushka - Jun 13, 2011 at 12:32 PM

    IMHO here is what the Heat has along with what’s wrong. My eyes saw:

    1. A small forward Lebron James, who is playing totally out of position. He is a Point Guard period! He wants to play like Magic Johnson. Not Mike. Until Pat Riley forces him to take full responsibility for the PG role and give him 21 points-10-12 Assists-10 Rebounds and 4 steals every night, they will always struggle. LeBron has the skills to do that in his sleep. No one is Making him do it. Riley must INSIST he does it! But Pat Riley must get Chris Bosh to get out of court space Lebron needs to operate in as the true Point guard.

    2. A power forward, Chris Bosh, who is playing totally out of position. He is a Small Forward period! He wants to play like James Worthy. Not Karl Malone. Pat Riley must get him to abandon the space up at the top of the key. And force him down low and into the corner for side attacks like Worthy. Otherwise he will continue to languish around the 3 point line-top of key and free throw area. That is the space that Lebron and Wade like to attack from and create options for other 3- point shooters and rim attackers. It is Bosh more than any of the big 3 who is gumming up that offense. James is completely lost in it. Because Bosh always occupy the space LeBron & Wade wants to work in. Haslem or a bruiser center would be much better coming out and setting those screens because they attack the basket after the screen for dunks and rebounds. Bosh stays out there clogging up the outer court area and looking for jumpers. A huge liability at the PF position! I’m not picking on Bosh and blaming him for this. He is just misplaced on this team. He is very talented. But he needs to be on a team like New Orleans that gives him total freedom to grow.

    3. Trade Bosh for a pure Power Forward like Scola at Houston or a true small forward who can attack from the corners like Rashard Griffin and shoot 3’s. That would completely open the outer court area for James and Wade to attack from.

    4. They need D Wade to keep playing just like he now as a natural 2 guard. He just needs to play a little smarter to tamp down the injuries.

    5. They need Mike Miller, Mario Chalmers and even Big Z to get better and become deadeye assassins from 3 point range. Keep all 3 and dump the worthless Mike Bibby.

    6. Find 2 big, young, Bill Laimbeer type 7.0′ bruisers in the draft to hit the boards, knock people around and be a passing force in a 3 center rotation with Big Z. The youngster would be energy guys on such a veteran laden team, exactly where they need it. The Heat don’t need more scorers. They need young, mean enforcers to compliment Z. Z can still give them 8-10 quality minutes for specialty pick & rolls with outside shooting. Coach Spo made a terrible mistake not using him against Dallas.

    7. Get the chemistry right between the “big 3” and the rest of the Heat or break up the “Big 3” before its too late. They are good team mates. They look much more like a clique! Every time out, post game interview, or pre-game shootaround, the “Big 3” isolate themselves from the rest of that team. and only do thing together. It is wretched, horrible and divisive conduct on their part. And it is very poor leadership. It shows individual weakness much more than strength. and it needs to stop. Their message to the 9 other guys and the coach is always “this is only about us”! The “Big 3 need to get back into the habit of doing their acts solo again.

    8. Too bad you can’t fire fans. Because Miami definitely is not a sports town. Their fans suck! They sold their tickets to Bulls fans in that series and Dallas fans in the finals. THey got “Punked” by Dallas fans in game 6. And deservedly so. Betchs Lebron really misses those rabid Cav fans who loved his every word until he punked them.

    9. And finally. Pat Riley needs to coach the Heat himself. Spoelstra is not the right guy. Jeff Van Gundy would be a good fit if Riley doesn’t want to do it. Or get someone like Rick adelman.

    • goforthanddie - Jun 13, 2011 at 3:59 PM

      1-You can’t blame Spo for LeBitch choking like he did, unless you count not pulling him from the game.
      2-Why trade Bosh? He stepped up more than LeBitch in the finals. The smart move is trading LeBitch, you’d get a Hell of a lot more back, plus the whole addition-by-subtraction thing.
      3-How are they supposed to draft these big 7-footers when they traded all their picks for Bosh/LeBitch?

      I’m sure Miami will do some roster adjusting, but it’ll be trash out, trash in. They have no cap room now, and will have no cap room regardless what the new CBA looks like. If there’s an amnesty thingy involved, that would just get them down to the new cap. They can get rid of everybody but the Threego, and sign another bunch of scrubs to league minimum contracts. Oh boy.
      The only hope of drastic change is trading one of the Threego. Wade’s not going anywhere unless he wants to. Bosh would be the easy/obvious choice, but Bosh isn’t the problem. He’s happy being a second banana, and would be far more productive given the chance. Plus he brings in a weaker return than LeBitch. Riley could actually bring Miami that title he promised if he traded LeBitch for a competent PG, C, and all those draft picks he threw away. Does he have it in him to do it?

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