The Miami Heat are on a roll this year and find themselves in first place in the Southeast division, ahead of the Eastern Conference Champion Orlando Magic (6-3). That didn’t change Tuesday night as they torched the Washington Wizards (2-6) for the second time in less than a week for a 90-76 victory.
Off to their best start in a decade, the Heat (6-1) once again relied heavily on their own personal superhero known as Flash, Dwyane Wade, to ensure them of finishing the night in the win column rather than suffering an embarrassing loss.
Wade obliged by pouring in 41 points in the game—with 29 of them coming in the second half (two more points than the entire Washington team)—and Miami fans at the AmericanAirlines Arena rejoiced at his heroics, raining chants of MVP down on him near the end of the game.
It was the second time this season Wade has scored 40 points or more in a game, both of them coming against the hapless Wizards. The first come in Miami’s 93-89 win over Washington last Wednesday night.
In that first game against Washington, Dwyane scored his 40 points on 14-of-26 shooting from the field. On Tuesday he got off to a horrid start, shooting five-of-13 from the field and contributing to the Heat being down 11 points early in the game (their first double-digit deficit of the season).
But his second-half performance was stellar and he finished with nearly identical stats as that first matchup, shooting 14-of-29.
With the Heat down 49-41 at the half (their first halftime deficit of the season), Wade took it upon himself to rally his teammates, telling them losing the game would linger for the rest of the season.
They responded by giving their best defensive effort of the year.
I talked about Miami’s defensive prowess in my preview of the first Washington contest here . I noted that they’ve been closing out on the perimeter more quickly than last year, resulting in the Heat coming into that game tied for the league lead (with Detroit and Milwaukee) holding their opponents to 41.7 percent from the field.
I also discussed Joel Anthony and Jermaine O’Neal clogging the middle and keeping opposing centers from getting into the paint, as well as clearing the boards. That’s precisely what they did in this second matchup with the Wizards.
While O’Neal didn’t come close to matching his offensive output of the first two games of the year—having only six points and six rebounds—his and Anthony’s defense in the second half was spectacular.
Along with the rest of their teammates, O'Neal and Anthony held the Wizards to 27 second-half points on 10-of-33 shooting (30.3 percent). That helped the Heat close out the game on a 19-3 run after being down 73-71 at one point in the game, and keeping their opponent under 80 points for the first time this year in the victory.
Miami’s outstanding defense is now ranked No. 3 in the league in holding their opponents to just 88.6 points per game and No. 2 in opponent’s field goal percentage. The Heat are holding their opponent’s to 41.5 percent from the field, and just 25.7 percent from beyond the arc.
Only Boston and Milwaukee are holding their opponents to less points, and only the Bucks have an opponent's FG percentage that is lower, at 41.4 percent.
The Heat will need that defense to shine tonight as they take on one of the most prolific scorers in the NBA, LeBron James, and his newest teammate—former member of the Heat, Shaquille O’Neal—along with the rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Shaq joined Cleveland in the offseason, and though the Cavs got off to a less-than- spectacular start, they’ve won five of their last six games to bring their record to 5-3, and have a roster filled with talent.
There’s no doubt Cleveland will pose one of the biggest threats Miami has faced this year.
And tonight’s matchup wi—CUT, STOP, HALT, FORGET THIS CRAP!
Okay, this is precisely why I hate writing previews to games rather than recaps. I understand the reasoning behind it on the part of DeMarco Williams and B/R, because if you write a recap it has to be done in a very timely manner or it’s hard to find anyone willing to read it.
After all, who wants to read a recap of a game if they already know what happened.
Yet, this stuff is just dry and boring. Writing previews like this carve out my personality from these pieces as easily as a hot knife goes through butter. So, enough of this!
It’s showtime tonight when the Cavs visit the Heat, and I’m gonna write about it with the same passion I’d use if I was discussing Wade’s 41 monstrous points from the win against the Wizards with a homie, and without trying to seem “professional.”
Big Shaq Daddy and Bron Bron, King James, or His Highness, otherwise known as LeBron James, are in the HizOUSE tonight. Got that? These two monsters of mid-America are coming to South Beach to try and instill fear in the hearts and minds of Miami fans. Bar the doors, hide the women and children; it’s gonna be brutal.
LeBron won’t be throwin’ no powder in the air at AmericanAirlines Arena, bet that (he’d find a plastic beer cup upside his head if he tried). But he and Diesel will be muggin’ for the press before gametime, strikin’ their poses and tryin’ to act tough.
The Cavs have a lil’ bit to give ‘em the thought they’s tough, too. They took out the Heat three o’ tha four times they played last year, with LBJ outscoring Flash in all but one o’ them battles. That ain’t happenin’ this year. M-town got balance, baby, and they ain’t goin’ out like that again.
I betcha anythin’ “His Highness” tries a few halfcourt shots prior to tip-off (maybe even while sitting down), just to prove he shoulda been a member of the Harlem Globetrotters.
They’d take him, too, ‘though the Cavs bosses might say sumthin’ ‘bout that.
And check it, there gonna be plenty of hoopla and drama goin’ on, be sure o’ that. All tha sports shows on tha planet been talking for days ‘bout how Bron Bron might be takin’ his game to tha sunny shores o’ Miami next summer.
King James ain’t talkin’ about it no more, declarin’ a media blackout on the biz, but you ain’t hearin’ that shizit here. Right here and now we’s gonna hit it up and break out wit’ some mad thoughts on the possibilities.
As I wrote here , I gots this crazy feelin’ Riles ain’t gonna settle for second best. He ain’t gonna go takin’ no Raptor’s sloppy seconds with Bosh, but is gonna look ta pair up tha two best playas on tha planet (all you Kobe-lovin’, jock-sniffin’ G’s just hold yer water – I’ll be getting’ to ya).
Superman is gonna try to bully JO (Jermaine O’Neal) like he did Dwight Howard last night, but he gonna find he’s too damn ol’ for that stuff on back-to-backs. JO gonna make him look silly with his quick footwork in the post and by drainin’ them 15-foot outside jumpers. You definitely gonna be “The Big Banana” tonight, “Shaqster,” because you gonna get peeled.
As for you, Mr. James; between Q-Rich (Quentin Richardson), UD (Udonis Haslem), and “Beas” (Michael Beasley), you gonna be kept unda control. Joel Anthony gonna make that Brazilian bozo, Anderson Varejao look like a fool, too. And Mario Chalmers gonna make Mo Williams wish he had “mo” game, as he robs him blind.
Forget all the talk ‘bout James comin’ to South Beach to team up with D-Wade. Flash will be more than happy to welcome him into the fold if that’s what he decides, but he don’t need his help to whup this overrated Cavs team tonight. Cleveland; you might as well send Delonte West on to prison right now for all the good he gonna do ya tonight against tha Heat.
The biggest problem for the Cavs? He’s wearin' No. 3. Dwyane Wade, the NBA’s scoring champion, is gonna light up Cleveland tonight like nothin' we’ve seen since…well, since he did it two nights ago to the Wizards.
Back to the boring analysis.
Miami is going to be a far better defensive team than any team Cleveland has seen so far. If the Cavs haven’t focused hard on this game (and that talk of LeBron coming to Miami may have contributed to this), they’ll find it incredibly difficult to get open shots.
Miami’s perimeter defense is second to none in the NBA, and as much as Shaq is still Shaq, I think the only O’Neal who’s going to shine tonight will be wearing a Miami Heat uniform.
My prediction? Miami Heat 94 Cleveland Cavaliers 82