The Miami Heat are still anything but a finished product. Their offense still relies far too much on LeBron and Wade freestyling out on the perimeter while the other watches from the opposite side of the floor. Their defense has been up-and-down lately. Mike Miller has been a huge disappointment, and Bosh has been far more inconsistent than he was supposed to be. These are not who the Heat thought they would be when LeBron announced he was taking his talents to south beach and the Heat had their pre-season celebration.
The Heat didn’t look perfect on Thursday. LeBron and Wade still have very little synergy between them, even though the Heat finally went to some Wade/James pick-and-roll sets in crunch-time. Even though Chris Bosh was finally involved and aggressive against the Lakers, the Heat offense didn’t really use him to make things easier for Wade and James, or vice versa — they just had three primary options instead of two.
All of that being said, the Heat showed just how dangerous they can be when they get something out of their supporting cast. The Heat never appeared to be rolling on all cylinders, but they got offense from enough different sources to keep the Lakers off-balance. Bosh was a force on the low block and on the glass, at long last. Mike Miller drained some catch-and-shoot threes and made some nice plays off the dribble. Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who the Lakers didn’t exploit on defense, had some nice moments from the high post and at the rim. Mario Chalmers and Mike Bibby both kept the floor spaced with some catch-and-shoot threes.
With those players taking the pressure off of James and Wade, they were able to help the Heat win without having to do anything. Neither player shot particularly well, but James was able to facilitate the offense and Wade had some key drives late in the game that put the Lakers away. And Wade did a great job against Kobe Bryant, who always seems to press a little bit when he plays LeBron; he’s now dropped eight of his last 10 games against James’ teams.
The Heat are capable of being more than a two-man team. They have shooters, they have guys who can make plays, and they have Chris Bosh. Time will tell if the Heat can become more than the sum of their parts when it matters most, but Thursday’s game was a reminder that they don’t need to be more than the sum of their parts to beat one of the best teams in the league.
The Cavaliers are clearly frustrated.
Did someone in Cleveland take out that frustration on the Warriors after they beat the Cavs last night?
Chris Haynes of ESPN:
Players were complaining about there being no hot water in the visiting locker room showers. When they walked in, they could be heard screaming in discomfort. Most of the players emerged shivering from taking a quick wash-off.
“Man, they got to do something in ‘The Q.’ Somebody call Bron!” Kevin Durant yelled, referring to LeBron James.
No one seemed angry; the situation was more humorous.
That’s the right approach. Whenever the hot water is out in a visiting locker room, the finger is pointed at the home team for sabotage. Sometimes, heating systems just fail.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is scoring more in the post, the basketball analogue of football’s trenches.
Apparently, he’s taking the comparison to the next level.
In the Bucks’ win over the Wizards yesterday, Antetokounmpo played the part of a long-snapping center to set up Khris Middleton in transition.
NBC Sports Washington:
Rockets players James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Gerald Green and Chris Paul reportedly went through a back hallway to confront Austin Rivers and Blake Griffin in the Clippers’ locker room after last night’s game.
That’s one version of the story, at least.
But it apparently isn’t the only one – at least when it comes to Harden’s, Green’s and Paul’s involvement.
Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated:
A hallway runs between the Clippers locker room and the visitors locker room, where players from opposing teams often see each other and catch up. According to a Rockets source, Ariza was waiting on Griffin, and when the game ended he charged from the hallway into the Clips locker room. When Rivers spotted Ariza near the entrance, according to the source, he said: “Let his b—– a– come in.” Ariza then turned his attention to Rivers.
ESPN reported that Ariza was flanked by three teammates—Harden, Paul and Gerald Green—but their purpose was unclear. “They were holding Trevor back,” the source said.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Harden was sitting out his seventh straight game with a strained hamstring on Monday night, and Rockets sources believe that he’ll be ready for a return to the lineup on Thursday night against Minnesota.
Austin Rivers challenging Ariza is juicy, but the type of thing people say during altercations. The rest of this sounds like the Rockets trying to position themselves ahead of the NBA handing down punishments.
If they were just trying to restrain Ariza, then Harden, Paul and Green shouldn’t be fined or suspended. But if Harden is suspended, he could serve his penalty Thursday – even if the Rockets are fibbing about him being ready to play (though they at least previously laid the groundwork for that one).
There’s a lot for the league to untangle.
Russell Westbrook jumped from fifth to second in the NBA in technical fouls in about two seconds.
The Thunder star received two technical fouls and an automatic ejection late in Oklahoma City’s win over the Kings last night, leaving his nine technical fouls behind only Draymond Green‘s 11.
Westbrook got hit in the face on a drive, but instead of a foul being called on Sacramento, Westbrook was whistled for travelling. That’s quite a turnaround from the expected call to the actual call, so I understand why Westbrook was so upset. But I also wouldn’t be surprised if Westbrook said something that warranted ejection. Thunder coach Billy Donovan also got a technical foul in the sequence.
Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:
The league used to crack down on that more with public fines, but the Thunder have skirted the rule this season.