Miami just needed a challenge, apparently.
The Heat had coasted through the last few weeks, still winning some games but not looking sharp, looking like a team that was bored with the season. Like a team a little tired and just waiting for the playoffs.
Then the Spurs came to town and Miami woke up — Chris Bosh in particular was sharp.
Bosh had 24 points on 9-of-10 shooting as the Heat blew the game open in the third quarter and both teams rested their stars in the fourth quarter of a 113-101 Miami win that wasn’t as close as the score suggests.
If Miami wants to beat the Pacers in the playoffs, they need this Chris Bosh. He hit 4-of-4 shots inside eight feet but was also 4-of-4 from the midrange, his only miss coming on one of his two threes. When Bosh is hitting those shots to space the court it opens up lanes, both passing and driving.
Miami took advantage of that with crisp ball movement, something the shorthanded Spurs could not keep up with. Then Miami hit their shots, shooting 60 percent through the first three quarters and hitting 6-of-13 from three, opening up a 91-71 lead. The fourth quarter was pretty much all garbage time.
LeBron James had 18 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Mario Chalmers was 5-of-7 from the floor through three quarters, Ray Allen hit a couple threes and the Heat offense was just clicking. That let them get back and set their defense.
Dwyane Wade came off the bench in his first game back after missing four and still did not seem to move well and was rusty, shooting 2-of-6 on the night.
Miami scored 58 points on 59 percent shooting in the first half and had an 8-point lead at the break, but they came out with more defensive intensity in the second half. Miami went on on 15-3 run midway through the third quarter, their defense forcing the Spurs into more midrange shots, which were contested and did not fall. Heat moved the ball well in the quarter, knocked down their looks, plus hit ridiculous shots like LeBron from behind the backboard.
On the other side, San tAntonio is now 1-10 against the league’s best teams (Indiana, Oklahoma City, Portland, the Clippers, Houston and now Miami) and 32-1 against the rest of the league. Yes, that’s an issue.
Tim Duncan had 23 points on 13 shots, Boris Diaw had a nice game with 15 points, but it was the defensive end of the floor that was the issue for the Spurs. They miss Tiago Splitter, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, but this team’s issues are a little bigger than that right now. It’s fair to question if they can repeat last season’s playoff success.