Heat vs. Nuggets: The Final Struggle for Miami on Their West Coast Tour

Gideon ResnickContributor IIIJanuary 13, 2012

LeBron James needs to have the ball less down the stretch against the offensive powerhouse that is the Nuggets
LeBron James needs to have the ball less down the stretch against the offensive powerhouse that is the NuggetsMarc Serota/Getty Images

The Miami Heat are demi-gods, handed the NBA title (perhaps for consecutive years) on a silver platter once the three knuckleheads got together. Then why the hell do they struggle against scrappy, fast teams like the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers?

Maybe LeBron James can help answer that question. The term "clutch" is blanketed on players that perform well in the fourth quarter, often stupidly used as an intangible measurement of a basketball sixth sense. Sort of like midichlorians in the NBA.

James simply doesn't possess this ability. He missed three baskets in a row in overtime and was 6-of-10 from the line in the last six minutes of regulation in Wednesday night's game against the Lob City Clippers. The Heat were 20-of-34 from the line overall.

Despite the fact that James recorded the 200th double-double of his career, racking up 23 points and 13 rebounds, he was once again not a factor when it mattered most. He took too many shots and contributed to Miami's abysmal 1-for-10 field-goal shooting in overtime.

The Los Angeles Clippers are a solid contender in the West; most likely a top-five seed in the conference along with Oklahoma City, those other Los Angeles guys, Portland, maybe one of the Texan teams and perhaps the Heat's opponent tonight: the Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets have a high-flying offense, scoring more points than any other team in the league besides the Heat. Ty Lawson and Danilo Galinari are both not certain they will return from injury tonight. However, Denver played impressively in their 123-115 win over the Nets on Wednesday, without the assistance of an injured Lawson. The Nuggets had an NBA season-high 37 assists in the game. 

In their third game in four days, the worn-out Heat face a significant challenge in the Mile High City. The Nuggets are one of the few teams in the league that can match Miami's offense.

It'll be a tight, high-scoring matchup, with Denver being a home favorite to bring Miami's mediocre West Coast trip to an acrimonious end.