Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Ray Allen, Dwyane Wade

Heat aren’t infallible, and it’s unfair to treat them as such

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When LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade in Miami, critics decried the end of competitive balance. They saw LeBron’s “Not one, not two, not three…” remark not as a hopeful boast, but as the inevitable. The Heat would win the championship every year from then on, and there was nothing anyone could do about it.

Three years later, we see the Heat have real vulnerabilities after all.

Just like every other team in NBA history.

It was ridiculous to assume the Big Three would carry the Heat to title after title without any resistance. There’s no question LeBron, Wade and Bosh joining forces made the Heat very good this season. But their level of contribution is not unprecedented, and previous great trios haven’t always led their teams to a championship.

Twelve other teams have had three players each post at least nine win shares (Bosh’s total this season) and combine for at least 37.9 win shares (the aggregate total for LeBron, Wade and Bosh this season). Half, including the 2011 Heat, didn’t win a championship:

  • 2013 Oklahoma City Thunder (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka): Lost in second round
  • 2011 Miami Heat (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh): Lost in NBA Finals
  • 2005 Phoenix Suns (Amar’e Stoudemire, Shawn Marion and Steve Nash): Lost in conference finals
  • 2000 Los Angeles Lakers (Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and Glen Rice): Won championship
  • 1997 Utah Jazz (Karl Malone, John Stockton and Jeff Hornacek): Lost in NBA Finals
  • 1996 Chicago Bulls (Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Tony Kukoc): Won championship
  • 1996 Utah Jazz (Karl Malone, John Stockton and Jeff Hornacek): Lost in conference finals
  • 1992 Chicago Bulls (Michael Jordan, Horace Grant and Scottie Pippen): Won championship
  • 1991 Chicago Bulls (Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant): Won championship
  • 1987 Boston Celtics (Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish): Lost in NBA Finals
  • 1972 Los Angeles Lakers (Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Gail Goodrich): Won championship
  • 1971 Milwaukee Bucks (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson and Bob Dandridge): Won championship

The Dallas Mavericks beat the Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals. The Boston Celtics took Miami to seven games in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals. And now, the Indiana Pacers have pushed the Heat to seven games in this season’s conference final.

At some point, we must realize that even the favorite can lose or get challenged without it being a monumental upset. I understand the Heat brought a lot of these expectations up themselves, but that doesn’t mean we have to indulge them. They deserve a high bar to measure their success, but a championship or bust is too high. Look at the top 10 regular-season records of all time. Miami doesn’t have a single one.

The Heat are a very good team playing another very good team, and that’s why this series is headed to a Game 7 tonight. It would clearly be an upset if Miami – with a better regular-season record, the league’s MVP, a higher payroll and more postseason experience – loses. But it wouldn’t be shocking, and we shouldn’t treat it as such.

Kristaps Porzingis cocks back, hammers dunk (video)

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It wasn’t all bad for the Knicks last night.

You can practically see the moment Kristaps Porzingis realizes his spin got him so open, he can put a little juice into this dunk.

Wizards defend final possession horribly, beat Knicks anyway (video)

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The Wizards – one of the NBA’s most disappointing teams this season – showed why it’s so difficult to believe in them.

They built a 10-point lead over the Knicks with 1:51 left and steadily blew it. New York got within one and trailed by three with 4.3 seconds left.

And Washington went to sleep.

The Wizards – four of whom hung out near the halfcourt line – allowed the Knicks to push the ball and find a wide-open Langston Galloway behind the 3-point arc. Galloway is one of New York’s best 3-point shooters, and he makes 47% of his wide open 3s, per NBA.com

This is horrific focus by Washington.

But if there’s a team less inspiring than the Wizards, it’s the Kurt Rambis-coached Knicks, and Galloway missed to give his new coach a loss in his first game as New York’s head coach.

Five Takeaways from NBA Monday: Watch out for the Utah Jazz

<> at American Airlines Center on February 9, 2016 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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1) Gordon Hayward game winner makes it seven in a row for Utah. This team is hitting it’s stride again. The reason Utah was everyone’s favorite pick to leap up into the Western Conference playoffs this season was they were one of the best teams in the NBA after the All-Star break last season — they went 19-10, played lock-down defense allowing just 89 points a game, and got just enough offense to win.

The Jazz are hitting that stride earlier this season. After a dramatic win over the Mavericks on Tuesday, the Jazz have won seven in a row and moved past Houston into the seven seed in the West. Utah is hitting its stride and is not only going to make the playoffs but also be a tough out in them. They are playing great defense again, allowing 87.3 points per game during the win streak (95.8 points allowed per 100 possessions), plus are getting offense when they need it. Like during the dramatic end of the win over Dallas on the road Tuesday. First Rodney Hood hit a three to force overtime:

Then Gordon Hayward hit the step-back game winner.

2) Kurt Rambis drops first game as Knicks coach. Meet the new Knicks: They got off to a terrible start, had no offensive flow, were constantly putting up contested shots late in the shot clock, and didn’t slow the other team down in transition. And they lost (111-108 to Washington). If that sounds a lot like the old Derek Fisher Knicks, well, what did you expect? Kurt Rambis — whatever you think of him as a coach — was not going to be able to make many changes on the fly, and while Carmelo Anthony dropped 33, the reasons this team has struggled of late have not gone away. This roster is not as good as Phil Jackson apparently thinks it is, and people running the show at Madison Square Garden may have been blinded by a better than expected start. This is not a good team, if anything the emergence of Kristaps Porzingis has them playing above expectations. There are some pieces to build on for the future, but there is still a lot of building to do. This coaching change doesn’t change much of anything in the short term.

3) Setback Tuesday: Bulls’ Jimmy Butler out 3-4 weeks with knee strain; Grizzlies Marc Gasol out indefinitely with a broken foot; Pelicans Tyreke Evans to miss rest of season after knee surgery. The basketball gods were handing out injuries Tuesday like Oprah handed out cars.

The Bulls will be without All-Star guard Jimmy Butler for a month due to the knee strain he suffered a couple of games back. The Bulls are already 5-12 in their last 17 and struggling on defense; this is another big step back along those lines. Chicago is just 1.5 games from falling out of the playoffs, and that is suddenly a concern. The Bulls’ Pau Gasol will replace Butler in the All-Star Game (which means the Bulls keep a representative, and Gasol is there for the Kobe sendoff game, which is nice).

Marc Gasol is the hub of what Memphis likes to do on both ends, but he has a broken foot and will be out indefinitely. Gasol’s game has taken a step back this season, but the team is still 3.7 points per 100 possessions better when he is on the court, and the Grizzlies don’t have anyone who can replace what he does at both ends. The Grizzlies have a 4.5 game cushion from falling out of the playoffs, but wins are going to be much tougher to come by now.

This has been a lost season in New Orleans, Tyreke Evans going under the knife because of his knee is just piling on. It does kill the Pelicans’ efforts to trade him at the deadline in nine days.

4) Khris Middleton’s free throw gives Bucks win over Celtics. Wild ending in Boston. First, a Jerryd Bayless foul gives Kelly Olynyk the chance to tie the game with one second left.

Just one second left, so it’s going to overtime, right? Wrong. Avery Bradley with the stupid foul and the Bucks get the win.

5) Miami’s Hassan Whiteside was ejected for elbowing Spurs Boban Marjanovic in the face. It was a made free throw in the fourth quarter of a double-digit game — there wasn’t anything to be battling over. But Marjanovic was working to get his big body in a rebounding position, Whiteside was trying to fight him off and got his elbows up. It was the move of an immature player, which Whiteside can still be at times. Elbow a guy in the face and you’re gone.

Stephen Curry starts ridiculous Warriors fast break (VIDEO)

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Golden State is such a thing of beauty to watch in transition.

This play starts when Stephen Curry slides down to help on post defense on Clint Capela, steals the ball, saves it to a teammate and then gets it back when they start the break. James Harden tries to slow Curry down, cutting him off in the backcourt, Curry just whips a 20-foot behind-the-back pass to Andre Iguodala, who lobs it to Leandro Barbosa for the finish.

Houston fought back from 16 down early to make it interesting for a while, but Golden State pulled away late for the 123-110 win. Curry finished with 35 on the night.