Heat Are Winning, But I’m Not Convinced

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The Heat are winners again and order is restored in the basketball world. Last week, Dwyane Wade scored eight of his 20 points in the fourth quarter and Miami shook a five-game losing streak, drying its tears to the tune of a 94-88 home win against Kobe and the Lakers. My question: After winning, does Erik Spoelstra treat his players to a pizza party with bottomless soda and an ice cream dessert bar?

After losses to New York, Orlando, San Antonio, Chicago and Portland, the Heat bounced back and ran their record to 44-21 and actually clinched a playoff spot with the win. LeBron and Wade hugged it out after the game, the rest of the world went back to hating its life and Miami fans celebrated the fact they just held off the league’s two-time defending champs and are again winning. I would say we can resume the championship parade that started last July. But that’s assuming the Heat aren’t gonna get swept by Chicago or Boston in the second round, and that’s assuming they’re able to get past the Knicks in the first.

Part of me thinks the win over the Lakers didn’t seem that convincing. Sure, the game swung in Miami’s favour down the stretch, but that had just as much to do with Bryant playing the role of the fourth quarter choke artist as it did with Wade and James taking over.
 

With a tie game inside two minutes, Kobe was stripped to set up a James dunk to make it 90-88, and following another turnover and Miami basket, Bryant heaved the Lakers out of the game with a desperation 30-footer with 20 seconds still left on the clock.

Yeah, so I’m hanging this one on Kobe. But here’s why he has five rings and a much better shot at getting another this season than LeBron does of getting his first: More than an hour after the game, Bryant was back on the court at AmericanAirlines Arena running a one-man practice.

According to reports, beat writers were lined up along the sideline waiting to get to Kobe for their post-game stories. Instead of having “glassy eyes” in the clubhouse, he’s out trying to get better in his 15th season in the league.

For now, though, Spoelstra’s job is safe, James and Wade are happy and Chris Bosh can be glad to have made it through another game without having a ball bounced off his face.

To his credit, Bosh stepped up in the game since complaining of his depleted role in the offence, turning in team-highs of 24 points and nine rebounds against Los Angeles. It may not have landed him a spot in the postgame hug, but it may have earned him another touch in the post for Saturday’s game against Memphis.

With all the talent in Miami’s big three, it’s silly to just go and write them off. That said, I’m going to, anyways. I don’t think this is the year. There’s plenty to be learned, and Kobe’s late-night shooting in reaction to losing is a perfect lesson. A sit-down chemistry course with the Celtics and Spurs might help the Heat’s cause, too.

It may happen in time, but from what I’ve seen of LeBron and his teammates so far, they might not be able to make the in-season adjustments necessary to be serious title contenders in 2010-11.

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