HEAT 90 - Magic 78 Recap
Erik Spoelstra has referred to one old NBA adage often during the Miami HEATs current six-game winning streak. Youre never as good as you think you are when youre winning, and youre never as bad as you think you are when youre losing.
The perfect application for this was two Decembers ago, when the HEAT were in the midst of winning 21 of 22. Everything seemed great, then, but the team wasnt playing all that much better than it was as it lost four of five at the end of November. In fact, while the team struggled in November trying to adjust to all the new faces, the success of December came at the expense of embracing bad habits. One-on-one basketball, hero shots and limited half-court execution marked each passing contest, but the HEAT kept winning because they had talent, and that talent was comfortable with those old habits.
A year later, as deep into the season in February as last years team was in mid-December, and the HEAT arent on quite as extended of a run, but this success is different. Theres no fools gold here.
When LeBron James or Dwyane Wade isolates a player outside of the three-point line and scores on a pull-up jumper, thats the success of talent, but its not sustainable on a deep playoff run. But when the floor is well spaced, bodies are moving without the ball, and James feeds a cutting Wade as Wade gets into the paint for a layup with no dribbles as it happened in the first half tonight, thats dynamic offense. Not just offense that helps them score on 43 percent of their half-court sets against the Orlando Magic, but offense that consistently generates high-probability opportunities.
When cutters get to cutting and decision makers get to making quick decisions, everything the HEAT toiled away at developing last season becomes a viable option, no matter the opponent.
But were only talking about the offense, an offense that had 20 assists on 38 field goals in this 12-point victory against the Orlando Magic, because the defense has regained steady footing. When the ball went in to Dwight Howard, the defense collapsed. When Howard kicked the ball back out, the appropriate players closed out on shooters. Occasionally the Magic moved the ball so well that they got open looks, but the defense never wavered.
We are playing better and more consistent. Weve taken another step forward as a basketball team, Erik Spoelstra said.
There are still moments when the offense gets derailed by the occasional early long jumper, but those are possessions tolerated by the system during this winning streak rather than possessions that define the system.
Just the same as when the HEAT loses, its the system that matters. There were details to this win over the Magic that may matter for another few hours Wades early scoring, James second-half brilliance but even had the team lost, this resembles how you want them playing as they move toward the playoffs.
Will they play this way for the next two months? Thats doubtful, though possible. There will be swoons as noticeable as current successes. Can the team be better than this? Significantly. But this is a foundation to build on, and if need be, fall back on.