Crowds are not always a good thing for the King
Once again the Miami Heat have lost to the Boston Celtics. And once again they stumbled in the second half against the Eastern Conference champions.
Dwyane Wade can't excuse injuries or not being in flow with the offense this time around.
There is something seriously wrong here.
LeBron James shot an unspectacular percentage. When the NBA's MVP leaders continually have problems scoring and repeatedly shoot poorly it is more than a hiccup or aberration. They are getting these results because they continue to fail against a system.
So, what is this system?
Celtics coach Doc Rivers doesn't play some secret, stealth type of basketball. His team is bigger, have longer arms, jam the paint and foul. And over a seven-game series if a team can pound, intimidate and stuff lanes, the chances are slim for the Heat.
But now isn't the time to panic. It's just time for Heat coach Erik Spoelstra to continue to emphasize a fundamental basketball principle: SPACE and TIME.
On the first issue, the Heat need better spacing. Well, more accurately LeBron and Wade need space to score more effectively. The reason why they're getting jammed is because Miami is playing three against five.
Do the Heat need to let Pittman play?
Essentially they're forfeiting the point guard and the center positions and hoping that mistakes are minimized. Isn't time to look at Arroyo again?
Better yet, isn't it time to consider have a point-guard free lineup at the beginning of big games like this?
Let Mike Miller start out there and get into a rhythm in the first quarter so that his shots fall at the end of the game. Shooting 20 percent from the three-point line is terrible and three-point specialists Miller, Eddie House and James Jones need to be in the starting lineup to space the floor.
Chalmers does nothing for you in these games and neither will Arroyo.
As far as centers are concerned, Miami has effectively juggled three subpar centers throughout the season. Boston has three centers that are just better, quicker, stronger and smarter than the Heat.
Miami needs to break outside of the mold and look at something new. Fortunately, they have choices in their roster.
The Heat have two big bodies that could play a role later on: Dexter Pittman and Udonis Haslem.
Pittman is going to be coming from the D-leagues and I hope this game will convince Spoelstra and Heat President Pat Riley they have nothing to lose in putting a young, tall, athletic big man in against the Celtics to shake things up.
When and if Haslem recovers from his injury this year, he can offer off-the-bench toughness and points in the paint.
There are signs of progress.
The rebounding was equal, Chris Bosh was nearly perfect, and the Heat did mount a comeback.
On the negative side Mike Miller still looks like he has a phobia of looking at the basket. Chalmers is a turnstile, Wade continues to force shots, and the Heat bench was terrible.
Meanwhile Arroyo continues to look around and must be thinking, "How can I be worse than THAT?"
No Arroyo, but when facing elite opponents the choices should never have to be about the lesser of two evils. The choice should be about the greater of two goods.
Right now the Heat are still struggling against elite teams with their conservative approach to roster minutes and who starts. But they can make bold changes after the All-Star break.
Cut Chalmers (he is going to kill you in the playoffs), play Pittman, give the three-mix of Miller/Jones/House in the starting lineup a try, and throw Juwan Howard the best retirement party on one of Mickey Arison's cruise ships so he can rest his old legs in the buffet line instead of the foul line.
If not, the entire Heat team will be taking an early bon voyage cruise out of the playoffs and into the offseason.