Sacramento Kings vs. Miami Heat: Postgame Grades and Analysis for Miami
Well, the Miami Heat didn't see this one coming.
Two monstrous performances from LeBron and Dwyane Wade propelled the Heat to a victory that actually looked out of reach at times.
Miami's defense was matador-like through the first overtime, but it really buckled down in the second, outscoring Sacramento 17-5 and traipsing its way to victory.
This marked the team's 12th straight win and its 10th consecutive at home. It also saw LeBron make history again.
Historical precedence aside, this wasn't always easy to look at, yet the Heat's resilience here was admirable, championship-worthy even.
As were the individual performances put forth by most of their players.
Point Guard: Mario Chalmers
Mario Chalmers was the victim of overly aggressive defense.
He picked up four fouls in regulation and was reduced to playing cautious defense come overtime. Through the first four quarters, he was trying far too hard to shut down Isaiah Thomas and the rest of Sacramento's backcourt—and failing.
On the one hand, you appreciate his effort there. He was contesting shots with way more vigor than most guards and refused to take his foot off the gas. On the other, he really wasn't staying in front of the ball-handler and trying to compensate for his deficient footwork with ill-advised swipes.
Chalmers didn't have a much better night on the offensive end. He shot just 2-of-8 from the field en route to dropping just six points. A few of those five three-point attempts seemed to be just flat, like he wasn't generating any lift under his legs.
While he wasn't doing much in terms of scoring, Chalmers did an adequate job of moving the ball when it was put in his hands. He had four assists and committed just one turnover, never losing his dribble in favor of a zealous defender.
Still, you get the feeling Chalmers would do this game over if he could.
Shooting Guard: Dwyane Wade
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So about Dwyane Wade being on the decline...
Miami's shooting guard was sensational. He dropped 39 points on 19-of-28 shooting from the field and added eight rebounds and seven assists.
Wade's dribble penetration was just exquisite in this one, especially in the fourth quarter (sans two missed free throws). He helped the Heat reclaim the lead, slashing through the paint and hitting shooters, and even Chris "Birdman" Andersen.
A decade into his career, I continue to marvel at how composed he is when dribbling through traffic. Even more so than James at times. He doesn't feel the need to dish off too early or abandon his quest of reaching the rim.
As for his off-ball cuts, I hardly need to tell you how incisive they were.
Wade wasn't just about putting points on the board, though. He was aggressive manning the passing lanes (three steals) and pitched in two blocked shots as well.
Sacramento was off to the races early on, but in the second half, Wade was one of the few who got back in transition and helped prevent easy buckets.
Miami's comeback was a collective effort, but it was one that was fueled by Wade, who I'm now inclined to call Mr. Double Overtime as opposed to "WoW."
Small Forward: LeBron James
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Just like I did for Dwyane Wade, I'm going to ignore the free throw LeBron James missed in the first overtime that would have actually won the game for Miami earlier.
Because just like Wade, he was incredible.
James dropped 40 points, dished out a jaw-dropping 16 assists, snagged eight rebounds, forced two steals and added one block. In other words, he absolutely dominated.
Before I go bowing down before him anymore, I must admit I was rather perturbed by some of his defensive sets, especially when he moved over to defend Marcus Thornton.
Thornton hit some pretty well-contested shots, but James struggled to keep up with him at times. Perhaps the longevity of this bout got to him, but he just wasn't shoring up the perimeter the way he usually does.
Outside of that, LeBron embodied perfection. Or should I say, he played what has become his new normal?
Throughout both overtimes, James broke down Sacramento's defense by attacking the paint and either scoring at will or kicking it out to a shooter. Those hop-step passes of his really are a thing of beauty.
And though it took two overtimes for the Heat to put the Kings away, they weren't in danger of ever truly losing this one. Not when LeBron played the way he did.
Power Forward: Udonis Haslem
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I can only imagine how difficult it is for Udonis Haslem to develop any sort of rhythm at this point. His playing time is so inconsistent that it can't be easy for him to become acclimated to the pace of the contest.
Said quandary has led to a bunch of uneven performances by Haslem, but this wasn't one of them.
He logged a quaint 22 minutes, scoring five points, grabbing four rebounds, dishing out two assists and forcing one steal. He played some solid interior defense despite picking up three fouls, and enough cannot be made of his continued aggression on the glass.
Average as his performance may seem, he was one of Miami's bright spots on defense in a game where the Heat just didn't defend or rebound well.
How much so?
To the point where I find myself wondering if this game wouldn't have reached overtime if Erik Spoelstra had played him on Sacramento's last possession in regulation.
Center: Chris Bosh
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Tempted though I was to hand Chris Bosh a demoralizing grade, I actually liked much of what he did.
Offensively, Bosh was flustered, and his showing on that end was subsequently ugly. He shot just 5-of-13 from the field for 15 points.
Miami's power forward-turned-center was visibly frustrated by DeMarcus Cousins' overpowering build. Bosh isn't used to going up against centers who can defend his mid-range game like Cousins can, and he wasn't able to figure out how to get around him off the dribble.
Bosh's efforts on the defensive end, however, were impressive. Not necessarily his execution, but his diligence.
He grabbed just eight rebounds and struggled to box out Cousins, yet he managed to force three steals and block four shots. His rotations were also as good as they've been all season, which is saying something, given how he had Cousins to worry about and all.
By no means was this a complete or even pretty performance by Bosh, but it was one marked by defensive will—and we have to respect that.
6th Man: Ray Allen
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More than 16 years into his career, opposing defenses are still liable to leave Ray Allen open. And I, for the life of me, cannot figure out why.
Admittedly, it's difficult to play help defense and guard Allen. If you give him an inch, it might as well be a mile with his swift release. Just ask every team he's ever played against.
Or rather, just ask the Kings after they've come to grips with the fact they allowed him to hit five three-pointers in this one.
Allen simply carved up Sacramento from the outside. He dropped 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting. He also hit the most Ray Allen-of-shots in the fourth quarter when he buried a weak side deep ball, simultaneously falling toward the sideline.
Case in point: The man can still shoot.
What he can't do (at least not well) is defend. He was beaten off the dribble on numerous occasions and was one of the reasons why Marcus Thornton was able to have his way with Miami's already porous defense.
I will say this: He drew a crucial travel call in the first overtime with some nifty full-court footwork. If he could just parlay that execution into a consistent effort on the defensive end, he'd be even more valuable to the Heat than he already is.
As if that was even possible.
Rest of Bench
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Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Chris "Birdman" Andersen.
The tattooed wonder was mesmerizing on both ends of the floor in this one. He scored 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting in just 17 minutes.
At 34, Andersen is still one of the most athletic of specimens in the NBA. He moves off pick-and-rolls perfectly and has given the Heat an alley-oop candidate not named LeBron James or Dwyane Wade.
And how about his defense? He grabbed three rebounds (impressive, considering the amount of time he was on the floor), but should really be credited with more. He helped keep DeMarcus Cousins out of the box on a number of occasions, allowing his teammates to snag boards they otherwise wouldn't have.
Moving right along, Norris Cole wasn't exactly amazing, but he was one of the few Heat players who was actively engaged on the defensive end. Granted, he was too aggressive at points (four fouls in 25 minutes), but he came up with three steals.
What I am noticing, however, is that Cole doesn't seem to have established any continuity or even confidence on the offensive end. It's not that he scored just two points, but he committed two seemingly careless turnovers.
By careless, I mean he took too long to make decisions, and when he did, he was hesitant to follow through.
I don't even want to address Rashard Lewis' performance, but I will.
He was simply awful, going just 1-of-5 from the floor for three points. He continues to be a defensive liability, and the one shot he blocked looked like an accident.
Lewis' eyesore of a display aside, this was an out-of-character-like performance for most of Miami's bench—in a good way.