If the Miami Heat had gained any good will among a doubting public (and I am cheering for the Heat in the NBA Finals against Dallas, FYI), the team is making it difficult to stay on board.
Thursday night’s meltdown against the Mavs included a little of everything that makes people skeptical about how this Heat team, putDallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki has every reason to be a happy man after Thursday night's comeback win over Miami.together with star power and some crossed fingers, is going to ever nail down a championship.
Egos are an obvious impediment with the Heat and they sure got in the way Thursday. This is not (NOT!) to take anything away from the Dallas Mavericks and Dirk Nowitzki. It wouldn’t shatter me to see Nowitzki win his first ring. In fact, after Thursday’s debacle, I’m finding myself leaning more and more his way.
But I’m not going to abandon the Heat. I picked the Heat to win before the playoffs started. Having watched the Heat play a lot during the postseason, I’ve mostly seen a team that looks to be on the same page emotionally and physically. I haven’t seen many of the hijinks that I saw Thursday, when Miami built a 15-point lead late and started coasting.
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The Miami players looked too busy patting themselves on the back to realize Dallas has enough offensive weapons to make 15 points disappear the way a magician does a rabbit. Instead of buckling down and playing defense, the Heat got soft. Instead of driving the ball to the basket offensively, the Heat settled for difficult three-point attempts late in the shot clock.
It’s as if they forgot how to play. And as if there was no direction coming from the bench, where Erik Spoelstra supposedly has control of this team.
I wonder just how much control he or anyone outside of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade has on the Heat.
How does Miami, with a foul to give on Dallas’ last possession, not jump all over Nowitzki as soon as he touches the ball at the top of the key. Doing so would have forced the Mavs to in-bounds the basketball again and made them take up more time trying to find a way to slip Nowitzki the basketball.
But there was no foul. And Nowitzki easily got past (superstar?) Chris Bosh to get to the rim for a relatively easy game-winning left-handed layup.
Everybody inside the American Airlines Arena was stunned, including the Mavericks. It was one of the most amazing – and easiest – fourth-quarter comebacks in NBA history.
Dallas just kept getting easy shots and Miami kept taking bad ones. Over and over again.
The Heat made one good play in the final seven minutes, setting up Mario Chalmers for a wide-open three-pointer during a time out. Chalmers made the shot as Dallas’ Jason Terry, one of the offensive stars late, fell asleep defensively.
That tied the game and should have finally awakened the Miami team. But the Heat were in a deep sleep, standing around while the game collapsed around them, failing to remember that Dallas is one of the most dangerous offensive teams in the league. Did Miami not get the memo from Oklahoma City about the Mavericks’ amazing 18-point comeback to win a game in the Western Conference finals against the Thunder?
Now all bets are off. As the Finals head to Dallas for games three through five, doubt has been cast as to whether the Heat can win this thing. And whether LeBron James can win this thing.
James was quiet as a mouse in the fourth quarter last night, turning the game over to Wade. Not a bad idea since Wade was outstanding. Still, it’s going to take a two-headed monster, at least, to bring down Dallas. I think we can all agree that the supposed third head on this monster, Chris Bosh, has far too many teddy-bear moments to be considered scary.
I still think Miami figures out a way to win this thing. But the Heat fueled the fire for their critics by losing Game 2 in the way in which they lost. It’s a great day for all the Miami and LeBron haters, a real “I told you so” moment.