May 16, 2012, 10:13 AM EDT
At some point Wednesday, it will dawn on Miami Heat fans that the series against the Indiana Pacers is 1-1 — it’s not over, it’s a best-of-five now. That’s not what it feels like for Miami fans as they drown their sorrows in a mojito, but it is the truth.
The focus in Miami now is the Heat loss in Game 2 at home to the Pacers — and like quarterbacks and presidents the blame for all things Heat falls on LeBron James. No matter how much of the blame he deserves.
And he deserves some — the best player in the game had no points, missed his only shot plus missed two free throws, and had no impact in the final four minutes of the game. It plays into the public perception, and it certainly says something that Erik Spoelstra’s final play call had LeBron setting a screen for Mario Chalmers. That is where you want the ball in LeBron’s hands — even if the Pacers trap him he can pass to an open man. You want LeBron to demand the ball there. Whether he was exhausted or not is really moot, he has to step up.
But the Heat’s problems in this game — and potentially in this series — are bigger than just LeBron.
Without Chris Bosh on the floor to provide another weapon the Pacers were able to pressure the perimeter without fear of their big men paying a price. Bosh can score in the paint or draw a big man out of it because of his midrange game. Without the threat of Bosh the Pacers played a more fearless brand of defense.
Dwyane Wade deserves some blame, he went 8-22 shooting and missed a key layup late in the game.
But the Heat’s biggest issue is that nobody else stepped up and gave Miami anything on offense. Miami players not named Wade or LeBron shot 26.5 percent on the night (9-34). Shane Battier had 5 points, Udonis Haslem 4, Mike Miller 0. The Heat were 1-9 on spot-up threes (stat via MySynergySports.com). That will do them in.
For Miami, they need to get back to getting easy buckets in transition — Miami was 2-9 shooting in transition. The Pacers did a good job of getting back, but rather than attack the Heat settled for jumpers that they missed a lot. They didn’t push and they didn’t attack. They need more transition opportunities and they need to convert on those.
If the Heat offense is simply LeBron and Wade coming off the pick and trying to create on their own Miami will fall. It’s hard to get into the teeth of the Pacers defense when they have long-armed shot blockers — someone has to space the floor out with shooting and if that’s not Bosh another Heat else has to fill that role.
This was never going to be an easy series, not as easy as the Heat fan base thought. The Pacers are the third best team in the East and are better than whomever the Heat would face in the next round. (Sorry Boston, it’s true.) They have good players, they are balanced at both ends of the floor.
Miami is the favorite because they are more talented, because they have the two best players in this series. But that alone is not enough. They need more transition points, they need more from their role players.
And it’s going to take more from LeBron James.
Jul 12, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT
Martin discusses Melo’s future and his own at Summer League in Las Vegas.
Jul 12, 2014, 7:01 PM EDT
Wizards can’t convince Ariza to return, and Houston gets a nice talent upgrade at a reasonable price.
Pau Gasol tweets he has chosen to play for Bulls. Only question is will it be sign-and-trade or not.
Jul 12, 2014, 6:41 PM EDT
The Bulls may have to amnesty Carlos Boozer.
Jul 12, 2014, 6:20 PM EDT
This is about cashing in on the new TV deal in 2016.
Jul 12, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT
Wade releases a statement supporting LeBron’s decision to leave the Heat for the Cavaliers.
Jul 12, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT
Irving also eligible for full 30 percent on Derrick Rose rule
Jul 12, 2014, 2:59 PM EDT
Is the best option to do nothing and be patient?
Jul 12, 2014, 1:42 PM EDT
He shot 45.1 percent from three last season.
Jul 12, 2014, 1:27 PM EDT
His other suitors have moved on.
Jul 12, 2014, 12:45 PM EDT
A lineup of Norris Cole, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Josh McRoberts and Chris Bosh would be entertaining.
Jul 12, 2014, 11:13 AM EDT
This played out as expected.
Jul 12, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT
The NBA has simplified signing first-round picks. This case fell through the cracks.
Jul 12, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT
Like with fans, there was some surprise and a lot of nods from NBA players on twitter.
Jul 12, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
LeBron returns to Cleveland a fully realized player.
Jul 12, 2014, 1:11 AM EDT
Two teams near the top of their conference could get a lot better if they land him.
Jul 12, 2014, 12:10 AM EDT
Carter will likely replace Mike Miller, who might be Cleveland-bound to play with LeBron James
Jul 11, 2014, 11:28 PM EDT
Bucks-Cavaliers was by far the main event of the first day of Summer League action in Las Vegas.
Jul 11, 2014, 10:52 PM EDT
Bazemore join’s Atlanta’s crowded wing rotation
Jul 11, 2014, 10:33 PM EDT
If you’re betting on the Cavaliers to win the title next season
Jul 11, 2014, 9:39 PM EDT
“To say that I’m excited and happy would probably qualify as one of the great understatements of the millennium,” Blatt said.
- Report: Trevor Ariza to sign 4-year, $32 million deal with Rockets 25
- Pau Gasol tweets he has chosen to play for Bulls. Only question is will it be sign-and-trade or not. 26
- LeBron James’ contract two years, $42 million with Cavaliers. That doesn’t mean he’s leaving. 30
- LeBron returns to Cleveland a more efficient, mature player that can take team further 35
- Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker shine in head-to-head Summer League matchup 19
- Posnanski: LeBron James proves he’s a true Clevelander 58
- Report: Isaiah Thomas headed to Phoenix Suns in a sign-and-trade 40
- Report: Chris Bosh re-signing with Heat over joining Rockets 89