NBA : Heat Have No Problem With Utah Jazz In SLC
@WindhorstESPN Heat’s team bus in SLC. Some things you can’t make up
Until Wednesday night’s drubbing of the Utah Jazz (16-7) in Salt Lake City, one of the more dubious statistics that Heat (15-8) detractors have been mentioning, was their futility vs teams over .500 on the road.
Welp, you can cross that one off the list as well.
Led by Lebron James’ 33 points and D-Wade’s 28, Miami continued its winning ways on the road 111-98, notching their 3rd straight victory away from home.
The Heat have now won 6 straight games since Phil Jackson threw Erik Spoelstra under the bus, 6 in a row since most in the basketball community were running around like Chicken Little claiming the sky was falling and the basketball apocalypse was near.
Here’s a stat for you – 75 points, 20 rebounds and 16 assists – the totals that Miami 3:16 (Bosh, James, Wade) combined for against the Jazz. That would be the Utah Jazz, whom are currently tied with the Lakers in the win column in the Western Conference.
The same team that defeated the Heat in overtime behind Paul Milsap’s 46 at home a few weeks ago.
Not the Clippers, Wizards or Kings – the Jazz.
How have they done it? [MORE]
Offensively there is more continuity, flow and rhythm. There are less iso’s and PNR’s, and more cutting, movement and sharing of the ball. Chris Bosh has been consistent (14 points and 9 rebounds vs Jazz) and steady the past 14 games. Lebron James is averaging 25 ppg 5.5 assists and 6.4 rebounds in his last 10 contests.
A healthy Mario Chalmers and James Jones hit big 3’s in the Heat’s final 17-5 run to close the Jazz, which is indicative of their solid play off the bench as of late. Big Z and Erik Dampier (18 points and 16 rebounds vs Jazz) are making up for the loss of Udonis Haslem inside, while Carlos Arroyo has been especially efficient at the point guard position.
On defense, the Heat have held 5 of their last 6 opponents below the 95 defensive efficiency threshold, and grabbed a season-high 15 offensive rebounds against Utah’s frontline.
I can throw out a bunch of stats that may help make more sense of their improved play, but the primary reason for the Heat’s resurgence in my opinion, has been the re-birth of Dwyane Wade.
Wade has scored 22+ points in 7 of his last 8 games, and the 28 he dropped Wednesday night showed no signs of frustration or injuries that had plagued him for much of November.
Healed, Wade’s chemistry with James on the floor is has never been better, finding LeBron for highlight reel alley-oops on a consistent basis and playing sound basketball on both ends of the floor.
Defensively he’s gambling less and staying solid, offensively he is taking what the defense gives him, filling open lanes, creating for his teammates and doing the intangibles on the court to help his team win.
I’m not seeing the off-balance 22-footer with as much frequency as I was getting used to, plus he’s not pouting as much and his body language on the court hasn’t been as negative as it had been.
The best part? It sounds like Dwyane is having fun again :
“I did say give us 20 to 25 games, didn’t I?” Wade said after the game. “We’re playing great together. We feel great on the court together right now. I don’t think we look as terrible right now as people say we did earlier. We’re starting to hit a stride. We’re starting to get in that comfort zone.” .
In the overall scheme of things for Miami, what does this really mean? Not much. It’s 23 games into the season, still 59 left to play. Unlike most, I don’t crown champions or declare free-agent experiments failed in the first month of the season.
I have maintained since pre-season that it would take about 20 to get a solid gauge on the Heat, and where they stood as a team.
As I have said before – Miami has to take things day-by-day, game-by-game – regardless of the naive, premature conclusions that are reached after every loss or sub-par performance.
Erik Spoelstra on his team :
“Dealing with a lot of adversity, dealing with such extreme pressure and expectations and speculation when we weren’t winning, we had one of two choices,” Spoelstra said. “Either crumble or figure it out together. You become tougher. You see it manifest in games like this against tough teams when you have to be tough-minded, especially when things aren’t going your way.” .