3 Reasons Why Miami Heat Should Be More Motivated
There are three kinds of Miami Heat fans:
2. The ones who live by the motto "hakuna matata" until the NBA playoffs come around.
3. The ones who just want to ring Chris Bosh's neck for averaging only 4.9 rebounds in the month of January, despite getting paid $17,545,000 this season.
Generally speaking, I fall between categories two and three.
For all of the criticism the Heat have endured over the past couple of games, they are still first in the Eastern conference.
To that end, everyone is healthy, the rotation looks fuller than ever before and Miami has made strides defensively over the course of the season.
With that said, a little more effort could go a long way towards ensuring a brighter future for the defending champions.
1. Let the King Rest
How is it possible that the Miami Heat have three max contract players, and yet LeBron James leads the team in scoring, rebounding and assists?
What is this—a Tyler Perry movie?
LeBron James is currently averaging 38.4 minutes and is asked to do everything from setting up his teammates, to guarding guys twice his size in the post to compensate for Miami's size.
But is this what we really want? A tired LeBron James who has to expend so much energy and effort over the course of a 100+ game season that it may begin to wear on his body once we get to June and July?
Of course not.
The Heat's supporting cast needs to do a better job of shouldering the burden.
And that includes Heat president Pat Riley, who should be delivering a rebounder to this team, stat.
LeBron James recently recorded two milestones, hitting 20,000 points and 5,000 assists in his NBA career.
The sad thing is, if you weren't all that familiar with the NBA, you'd have guessed he hit those marks just in this season alone.
2. Home Court Advantage
The single biggest advantage Miami will have going into the playoffs this season (beyond a healthy LeBron James) is American Airlines Arena.
The Heat are 16-3 at home, and only 10-9 on the road.
Now, say what you will about the 2-3-2 NBA Finals format, but I think most of us would agree that Miami would be best served having home-court advantage throughout the duration of time it will play against fellow eastern conference opponents.
Last year, Miami beat the Boston Celtics in game seven at home.
And this year, with the emergence of Paul George, the inevitable return of Derrick Rose and the underrated contributions of guys like Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert and Avery Bradley—players Miami never saw last May—I would hate to see Miami play a pivotal game later in the season because they were a little too lazy in December and January.
Now is the time to create a little bit of distance in the win column between us and the New York Knicks, the only team in the east particularly close in the standings.
Especially with Raymond Felton soon to return.
3. Psychological Edge
Unlike about 60% of Miami Heat fans these days, I'm not a bandwagoner.
I was a fan way back during the rough times of the franchise, from Alonzo Mourning's kidney disease that platooned the Heat's last free agent bonanza back in 2001, to watching former Heat player Jamal Mashburn burn Miami in the playoffs as a Charlotte Hornet.
But no times were more painful for us than when the New York Knicks would annually take Miami down to the last minute of the last game in every series and ultimately win.
I'm not too proud to admit that the Knicks always seemed to have a psychological edge over the Heat.
And for a brief moment last season during the playoffs, I thought the Boston Celtics were going to have a similar hold.
Then, LeBron James turned from Superman to Batman and silenced every loud, obnoxious Boston player or fan within a 2,000 mile radius in game six.
Here's the thing. Unlike most of you, I view the Indiana Pacers as a legitimate threat to the Heat in the eastern conference.
They have the youth, talent and toughness to beat Miami, as they showed a few games ago.
Oh, and their biggest strength—rebounding—happens to also be our Achilles heel.
Now, are you really telling me that if you add Danny Granger into that mixture that the Heat still don't have anything to worry about?
Because if you are, I'd recommend you watch Paul George a bit more this season—he is a legitimate All-Star now.
And the last thing I'd want to give a Pacers team with seemingly nothing to lose is any more of a psychological edge than they already have.
I'm telling you right now—the Pacers are good.