Blog Entry

Heat play desperate, but just can't top the Bulls

Posted on: March 6, 2011 4:29 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2011 8:12 pm
Posted by Royce Young


With about six minutes to go and the Bulls and Heat tied at 74-74, it was obvious that this game meant a lot more to one team than the other. After blowing a big lead to the Magic and then getting blown out by the Spurs, there was a level of desperation you could just see for the Heat.

They wanted this game. They needed this game.

And yet again, they had a chance. With 15 seconds remaining and down one, 87-86, Miami had possession. The play was an isolation for LeBron James, who got a switch, bringing Joakim Noah onto him. LeBron attacked Noah left, but the Chicago center did an excellent job of using his length to make LeBron go high off the glass. The shot missed, but Dwyane Wade tracked down the rebound, heaving up a fadeaway jumper at the buzzer that came up short.

As soon as Wade's shot clanged short, you could see the boys in black completely deflate. Not again. Please not again. Erik Spoelstra said post-game that some of the players were crying in the locker room. And that might kind of been the problem. Overvaluing a game in March isn't a bad thing. Heck, I wrote just yesterday that this game was important for Miami. But because they wanted it so bad, they were tight, anxious and uncomfortable.

There's a difference between outside noise creating pressure and just the importance of winning doing it. Postseason basketball makes you tight, but by that time it's not about proving anything to yourselves or learning how to win. It's just about winning. All that outside stuff is over. That's what the 82 games are for. But right now, the outside noise is turned to 11 on the Heat. The ambiance is deafening. That's why the feel it. And that's why there's a clear frustration.

Here's the thing for the Heat though: They were close. The Bulls played a poor game while Miami saw Mario Chalmers flash back to the 2008 National Championship game where he topped Derrick Rose and step up with a 3-pointer and a driving layup to give the Heat two-point lead with 25 seconds left. It capped a 7-0 run that brought the Heat back from the brink and put them in position to win a tight game against a really good team.

Two big monkeys were about to jump off.

Except after Luol Deng missed a potential game-tying free throw, referee Tony Brothers stepped in with a fairly awful foul call on Wade, giving Deng two more free throws, which of course he sank and which of course, proved to be the difference.

It was a terrible call in a terrible moment, but those things just tend to happen when you can't figure out how to win in close games against good teams. And it's not like the Heat didn't still have their chance. A stat flashed up on the screen prior to Miami's final possession that in the closing seconds, they were 1-14 from the field in typing or game-winning situations. After today, make it 1-16. The only make? Eddie House's 3-pointer to beat the Thunder.

It's just early March. It's not time to freak out entirely. The Heat are still good, they still have good players and they can still get things together. But it feels like they are on the brink of falling hard. When the Bulls took a five-point lead late in the fourth and Wade overthrew Mike Miller for a bad turnover, the team's frustration started to boil to the top. Wade openly yelled at Miller, and the finger pointing started. Without Chalmers big step up and a costly turnover by Rose combined with a bad shot, the Heat might've not even had the chance they did.

Don't misunderstand, the Bulls are good. These past three losses for the Heat aren't bad because again, dropping consecutive games to Orlando, San Antonio and Chicago isn't anything to hang your head about. But this Heat team is being held to a higher standard, one they imposed on themselves. They want greatness, but they don't know how to get there. It definitely means something to them, but they are missing something.

Spoelstra keeps preaching to "trust each other," but I wonder, is that the problem? Chalmers stepped up Sunday, but really, do you want Mike Miller and Erick Dampier taking big shots for you late? Of course you've got to play together, but at some point, the best teams win because their best players make plays. And that doesn't seem to be happening in Miami.

When LeBron was in Cleveland and Wade had this team to his own, it was clear what happened in the last five minutes of a tight game. Now there's just kind of a level of awkwardness to it. Wade wants to take over, but wants LeBron to take over with him. And vice versa. It makes for discombobulated offense that's only rescued by a bailout shot by Chris Bosh or Chalmers.

Trust certainly is a factor in teams moving from good to great, but at some point, Wade and LeBron have to quit trusting in each other and just do it themselves. With the loss to Chicago, the Heat are now 14-18 against plus .500 teams. And the road isn't getting easier over the next 10 days. There's a problem to be fixed and just crying in the locker room isn't going to get it done.

But here's the good thing about playing all these good teams coming up: more opportunities to shut everybody up. A couple big wins and the tears after Sunday's loss will be forgotten. That's the thing though: They've got to start winning or it'll just get worse.

Since: Mar 7, 2011
Posted on: March 7, 2011 8:41 am

Heat play desperate, but just can't top the Bulls

They're not the best team ever (as they so profoundly proclaimed, after signing James, and jump shooting Bosh!!), they're not the best team in the NBA this year, and they're not even close to being the best team in the east. They can't rebound, and their inside presence is a guard and a small forward. So stop crying, it's not the refs fault, box out once in a while.

Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: March 6, 2011 10:27 pm

Heat play desperate, but just can't top the Bulls

You do it again in slow motion, Miller clearly grabbed Deng's arm which stopped him from grabbing the ball. Some people were just speculating about the push, when truth is the arm grab was the foul.

Since: Oct 10, 2006
Posted on: March 6, 2011 8:26 pm

Heat play desperate, but just can't top the Bulls

Do it in slow motion...Deng was falling due to his momentum in going after the ball. the ref is a Bulls fan.

Doesn't matter, both James and Wade missed their chance to win the game. They had 2 oppurtunities just like Deng was given another chance at the free throw line. The difference is Deng made just enough to put the Bulls in te lead, wherein James and Wade missed their chances.

Since: Mar 6, 2011
Posted on: March 6, 2011 8:09 pm

Heat play desperate, but just can't top the Bulls

Do it in slow motion...Deng was falling due to his momentum in going after the ball. the ref is a Bulls fan.

Since: Apr 16, 2010
Posted on: March 6, 2011 7:45 pm

Heat play desperate, but just can't top the Bulls

Heat had talent! Yeah, we can blame on  chemistry beginning of the season. Now is time to push for home field advantage and momentum.
Sorry I might offend someone but I think if Phi Jackson or Pat Riley coach the Heat, .........enough said.

Since: Mar 6, 2011
Posted on: March 6, 2011 7:43 pm

Heat play desperate, but just can't top the Bulls

I was surprised everyone started picking Miami to win the east. Slowly those same analysts are now starting to back peddle....realizing this is still a team sport. AND, this is a year where if ever one needed more proof, coaches matter. Doug Collins in Philly, Monty Williams, Thibedeau in Chicago, and rivers in boston...and most of all, Pop in san antonio. Look at the spurs roster. Not many household names. Look at Chicago?  you have Rose and I guess Boozer. The rest are elite role players (well, Noah is on the brink of being a legitimate star). But they play tough defense and they contest each poessesion. Miami has no chemisty, and the worst bench in the NBA. Really, worse than Detroit or Sacramento. They wont get out of the first round. Indiana or Philly is going to beat them. Coaches matter even more in the playoffs.

Since: Jan 13, 2009
Posted on: March 6, 2011 6:50 pm

Heat play desperate, but just can't top the Bulls

Crying....Theres no crying in basketball! what is the big surprise here, that lil dwayne is deferring to bron or that bron is hoisting up cinder blocks at the end of the game or that the other guy is limiting his contributions to holding hands and crying with teammates after the game in which he contributed nothing?  There is history here--just watch all the cleveland playoff series for the last few years.  Not shocking that the soldier either fires blanks or passes off a teammates face.  Only time this man steps up is when he is signing a contract and taking another fools money.  Karmas a bit** right bron.  Concentrate all your talents on getting a new CBA cuz..the one's you brought to the court in sou beech aint getting it done

Since: Jul 24, 2007
Posted on: March 6, 2011 5:59 pm

Heat play desperate, but just can't top the Bulls

Royce, Heat fan much? I thought "writers" were supposed to be the ones reminding fans that referees don't decide games. You seem to spend quite a bit of time complaining about the rough call. If you are going to do that, let's go back and examine every call and non-call of the game. I'm willing to bet it all turned out pretty evenly. 

Since: Oct 12, 2006
Posted on: March 6, 2011 5:52 pm

Heat play desperate, but just can't top the Bulls

Don't you just love it, the teams that formed FA alliances are beating them. Heat may yet have the last laugh down the road. Not until they get a coach that can find a way to play 5 that contribute every game. 2 1/2 just hasn't gotten it done, except against the "have nots" of the NBA. The runs every elite team have made vs the Heat make them look like "droopey eyed, armless children."

Since: Dec 4, 2006
Posted on: March 6, 2011 5:44 pm

Heat play desperate, but just can't top the Bulls

Also if the last foul was called on Wade then it was a bad call because it clearly looked as if it was Miller who pushed Deng after he grabbed the rebound. But whatever excuse you need to come up with to make a loss feel better go ahead. Usually it is injuries, but considering the Heat have been relatively healthy during this stretch of futility, blaming the refs is the next best thing.

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