Last night chronicled another disappointing performance by the highly-speculated, spotlight-accustomed, Miami Heat.
Miami jumped out to a huge, 51-32 lead at the end of the half. However, their defense gave way in the third and fourth quarter, allowing 72 points in regulation, 42 in the fourth quarter.
The player of the game was Paul Millsap, who scored 46 points, with 11 points in the last 30 seconds (on three three-pointers and one put-back basket to end regulation).
The Big Three Playing Together
The Big Three put up a pretty good stat line:
LeBron James--20Pts (5-18), 11Rebs, 14Asts, 1Stl, 3Blks, 2TOs.
Dwyane Wade--39Pts (12-23, 3-5 3pt), 6Rebs, 1Asts.
Chris Bosh--17Pts (7-13), 9Rebs, 3Asts, 2Blks.
The Big Three put up huge numbers, with the exception of Bosh's typical modest line, but was still unable to avoid a home upset to Utah.
LeBron's getting his looks, his triple-doubles, while Wade is scoring the ball well and even from deep. Bosh is looking less confident than before, but is still shooting a good clip (46.7 FG%) and making his top of the key shots.
It looks as if the Big Three is starting to come together after their opening night meltdown against Boston.
The Wins and Losses
The Orlando win was the most impressive night for the Heat; they forced Dwight Howard to foul out early and held the Magic to 30% FG%. Their other win? Easy.
But the losses have been horrible, and have shown their defensive ineptitude. Prior to the game, analysts talked about how proven point-guards are ripping the Heat for big numbers.
Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo each had big assists games against the Heat (19 and 17, respectively). Deron Williams had 21 and 14 last night.
After last night, another big problem with the Miami defense was uncovered--their problems down low. Millsap's big game put a spotlight on a lack of defense from the Miami bigs.
Okafor's big game in the Hornets' win was also re-highlighted. Okafor was 12-13 for a 26-13 night (his highest rebound and point totals so far) in their win.
Miami started the game with a 22-7 run, so they are capable of winning in epic fashion. Miami can score, and they can play defense...the problem is can they play defense consistently?
When the retro Big Three of KG, Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen for those unfamiliar with He Got Game), and Paul Pierce came together, they started the season with an 8-0 record. Their defense was the forefront and took them to an NBA championship.
The flaky, show up when they want, Miami Heat team has shown they can contend but they need to work on guarding the positions where they don't have an All-Decade Star (the PG and PF/C slot).
The front-court of Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas need to defend better and stop penetration. Hopefully, Chris Bosh makes a Pau Gasol-type transformation.
On top of all this, another problem is LeBron had one shot in overtime. ONE SHOT. Known as one of the best closers in the league, who has single-handedly ended games, LeBron deferred the ball to Wade (who scored 10 points in OT) when it counted.
We can call last night a fluke, a bad half of basketball, but Miami Heat fans, it's time to panic.
Not because the Big Three can't get it together before the playoffs, not because they won't put together a good record, but because they don't have integral pieces necessary to defend a proven championship team.
Can we expect this team to win a seven-game series against Boston? Against the unstoppable bigs in LA? Let's curb our expectations until Miami sorts their problems out.
Until then, a rematch of Miami and Boston is tomorrow. Let's hope, for the sake of our beloved Miami fans, the Three Kings show up.