Nothin' but Net: Heat are scary right now
By Jim Brighters, NBA Editor
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - It's not like the Miami Heat playing well in the postseason is newsworthy, but the way they're getting it done at the moment should terrify the remaining seven teams with a chance at the title.
The fact the Heat are 6-0 is impressive enough, but with every victory, they're building momentum. Are they going to go undefeated in the postseason? No, but in these early rounds, Miami is just having its way with Charlotte and now Brooklyn.
It's not like the Heat need confidence what with winning the last two titles, but they did finish the regular season 11-14.
"Teams are trying to figure out ways to be at their best (in the playoffs)," said MVP runner-up LeBron James. "We have to continue to work our offense, work our defense, put ourselves in a position to be successful."
The Heat have done that and it started on the defensive side of the ball.
Miami has yet to allow 100 points in the postseason and surrenders an average of 89.3 points per game. That's a stout improvement from the regular-season number of 97.4 ppg and the Heat rank No. 1 in the postseason in opponents' scoring.
Granted, the Bobcats at their best are offensively challenged and things became easier for Miami to defend when Al Jefferson got hurt. But, Brooklyn has firepower and the Heat have cooled them off, not allowing the Nets more than 86 points in either of their two games.
With that side of the ball in good shape, the offense has been clicking.
When one thinks of the Heat, the mind wanders inevitably to the Big Three of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. It's fair since they're all going to the Hall of Fame, but the Heat's versatility has been on display like that weird, hologram egg in "Ocean's Twelve."
Eleven members of the Heat are averaging 10 minutes a game or more. Sure, not all have played in all six games, but when they're out there, everyone is contributing.
Look at the starters for example. Shane Battier played 2:04 of the entire series against Charlotte. Head coach Erik Spoelstra reinserted him in the starting lineup against the smaller Nets and he's 3-for-6 from beyond the 3- point line.
Conversely, Spoelstra pulled the plug on Udonis Haslem since the Nets only play one player over 6 feet, 10 inches in height at any given time.
It's been an underrated aspect of Spoelstra's tenure in Miami -- his ability to sit players down and choose the right one. Battier sat out times against the San Antonio Spurs in last season's NBA Finals. Same goes for Chris Andersen.
Anyone want to bet Spoelstra employs more Haslem and Birdman in the next round when the Heat will face either the Indiana Pacers or the Washington Wizards? Both teams are bigger, so Spo will adapt.
Spoelstra isn't Red Auerbach just for using the correct rotation, but his second-unit guys are paying dividends. The Heat bench ranked 17th in scoring during the regular season, but at least one Miami player has scored in double figures in five of their six postseason games and it's been four different players.
In fact, the Heat have had five double-figure scorers in the last three games, a great sign for a group that has, at times, been too reliant on letting James or Wade do their thing and everyone else watches with glowing admiration.
"We don't really care about who scores. Five guys in double figures once again tonight, so the ball is moving," James said after Thursday's Game 2 win. "Guys are in a great rhythm."
James may say he doesn't care who scores, but he's walking the talk. After averaging 30 points in the Bobcats series, LeBron is down to 22 ppg versus the Nets. His shot numbers remained steady and his assists are in decline against Brooklyn.
So basically, the Heat are still winning convincingly with James not producing to his maximum. Is that not the scariest thing imaginable?
The Heat have been tested to some degree and many thought they would be considering the Nets went 4-0 against them in the regular season. Even if Brooklyn gets a game at home, Miami is going to advance.
The Wizards could give them some trouble with their size, which is still a sore spot for Miami. The inexperience in the postseason will doom Washington against the Heat.
For months, everyone has waited for the Miami/Indiana series, but at this stage, that matchup would be more anticlimactic than the ending to an M. Night Shyamalan movie (not including "The Sixth Sense").
Miami is poised for another deep run. Anything less than a fourth consecutive trip to the Finals would be shocking, but the Heat are doing their part. They're playing fantastic basketball and improved in important aspects from the regular season.
Just wait until James plays like his dominant self. They might not lose.
- Even if Donald Sterling doesn't tie up the NBA with litigation and delays, things might remain bad if he tries to sell the Los Angeles Clippers to his wife Shelly. Head coach Doc Rivers said "it would be a very hard situation." That translates into some Clippers players or staff would have a problem with it, and then it's gets really complicated. Remember, the players got everything they wanted from commissioner Adam Silver, so if they don't get what they want, what happens next?
- I'll ask - what is the fascination with Steve Kerr? He's never coached, didn't do all that well in his only capacity in the league as a personnel guy with the Phoenix Suns and, even if he has a good basketball mind, think of the ex-coaches on the sidelines and ask yourself, why are two teams fawning over Kerr? My theory is that once Phil Jackson expressed interest, which was basically from the day he was hired, maybe the Golden State Warriors and Utah Jazz thought, "If Phil wants him, he must be something." Otherwise, I'm kind of lost on this one.
- George Karl, Lionel Hollins, Avery Johnson, Mike D'Antoni, Mike Woodson and Mark Jackson are all available. Pick a Van Gundy. Nate McMillan and Byron Scott are, too. Let's not even discuss if Rick Adelman is serious about retirement, because then he should be a major candidate as well. This just drives home how strange it seems that Kerr is the leading candidate for two such highly attractive jobs.
- Kobe Bryant wants some say in the next Los Angeles Lakers coach. This is a tricky issue. As the superstar, and one who can be tough to manage, it might make some sense to consult him. But, Bryant can't be the one making these decisions. It's too much power. In theory, the Lakers want a long-term solution and Bryant's contract is for two years, so you do the math.
- The San Antonio Spurs are demolishing the Blazers, but I give Portland some credit. There was a rattlesnake in the Blazers' locker room Thursday. I wouldn't have played. I'd have booked a seat on a plane back to Portland, or would've started jogging there if I couldn't find one in a suitable amount of time.
- Love making the media's votes on awards public. It explains a lot of the strange votes.
- Sticking with Heat versus Spurs in the Finals.
- Movie moment - "Planes" is my 2-year-old's latest movie obsession. I can not wait until he's old enough for "The Godfather." At this rate, I'm going to show it to him when he's 4.
- TV moment - "24" is still better than most of what's on television at the moment. My beef with the two-hour debut was it took all of 45 minutes to immediately circle back into regular "24" mode. Would've been a golden opportunity to shake up the plot structure a little.
05/09 12:49:33 ET