Since when has there been crying in the NBA regular season? Well according to Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra there was some going on in his locker room after his team lost yet another close game. (Perhaps a chance for Spoelstra to take a jab at the “warriors” on his team, or he’s just grasping at straws at this point.) The Heat have dropped 4 in a row, falling to 3rd place in the Eastern Conference 4 games back of the Celtics and a full game behind the Chicago Bulls, who just completed the season sweep of the Heat.
Close games have not ended well for Miami this year. They are 2-8 in games decided by 3 points or less with the wins coming against the Washington Wizards and Detroit Pistons. As you have probably heard by the now the team is shooting 1-18 from the field in the final 10 seconds of the 4th quarter or overtime when trailing by 3 or less. (LeBron James = 1-7; Dwyane Wade = 0-5; Chris Bosh = 0-1.)
You know what? Throw in a 0-9 record against Boston, Chicago, Dallas, and San Antonio and maybe there is reason to cry.
The Miami Heat would need to go 18-1 in their final 19 games to have the same record as the Cleveland Cavaliers from last season.
After watching the Heat fall in the final seconds to a good team once again on Sunday (including big missed shots by both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade), you have to wonder if Miami is really the toughest test for the Celtics in the East playoffs. Do they have 2 of the 5 best players in basketball? Yes. Have they figured out how to maximize their talent? No. Can they still dominate lesser opponents based on just skill alone? Yes. Would you pick them to win a 7-game series against an elite team? The answer has to be no.
I’m not dumb enough to completely rule out a LeBron-Wade team in early March. But if you ask me the team that beat them yesterday looks like a more dangerous opponent come April and May. The way the standings sit today, the Heat would have to go through the Knicks, Bulls, and Celtics just to get to the NBA Finals, let alone win their first of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6… or whatever titles LeBron promised South Beach. If that seems like a murders row, it is. A potential 7 game series with Carmelo-Amare-Billups to start then Derrick Rose followed by the Big 4 of the Celtics all before a match up with a team likely chuck full of Finals experience (Spurs or Lakers)… good luck.
The Heat thrive on beating up on the weak teams in the league. If they can’t get back into the top 2 in the Eastern Conference, then they won’t even get the luxury of facing one of them in the playoffs. My 1-6 in the East right now looks like 1. Celtics 2. Bulls 3. Heat 4. Magic 5. Knicks 6. Hawks.
Look Out NY! Watch out for the Philadelphia 76ers. Doug Collins has his extremely young club two games over .500 and just a half game behind the New York Knicks for 6th place in the conference. Did you see that coming? Me neither. They get the job done at home, and rather than relying on just 1 scorer who can’t lead on his own (like Andre Iguodala in the past) Philly is trotting out nearly 6 players averaging in double figures. (Brand, Iguodala, Holiday, L. Williams, Young, and Meeks at 9.7). Collins is doing a tremendous job coaching, despite the fact that the #2 overall pick in the draft barely cracked the Rookie-Sophomore lineup. I still give the Sixers no chance at winning a first round series, but they could steal a game or two at the Wells Fargo Center.
Best Week Ever? Did you happen to notice what Minnesota’s Kevin Love was up to this week? He played 5 games (2-3) and this is how they went: 37 points 23 rebounds vs. Golden State; 13-11 vs. Lakers; 20-20 vs. Detroit; 21-23 vs. Philly; and 20-21 vs. Washington. What in the 1960s? He averaged 22.2 points and 19.6 rebounds in his last 5 games.
The last game put him at 50 consecutive double-doubles, first guy to do that since Moses Malone. His three straight 20-20 games, makes him the first player to accomplish that feat since Kevin Willis of the Hawks did it back in 1991, when Love was 3 years old.
K-Love has his season leading rebounding average up to 15.7 per game. The last player to finish the year with over 15 boards per game was Ben Wallace back in ’02-’03, he also scored less than 7 points per game, while Love is the team’s leading scorer, currently 20.9.
He’s a ton of fun to watch (for those of you with NBA League Pass) but unfortunately is being wasted on a horrible team. Imagine if he was on the Heat?
Next week on “Around the NBA” there will be a bit of a College Basketball feel with the tournament upcoming. I’ll take a look at all the players who still could be in school if they were forced to stay 4 years… Something tells me there wouldn’t be as much “Jimmer Mania.”