What's on the Menu? "mmmmmm . . . Basketball!!!!"

Friday, July 26, 2013

SDH Presents the 2013 End of Season NBA's Worst to First: 2. Miami Heat

Overall Win/Loss Record (At Season’s End): 66-16 , first place Southeast Division

At Season’s End:

Team Statistics and League Rank (At Season’s End)

  • Points Scored: 102.9 (5th)
  • Points Allowed: 95.0 (5th)
  • Team FG%: .496 (1st)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .440 (6th)
  • Team FT%: .754 (16th)
  • Team Three Point FG%: .396 (2nd)
  • Rebounds per game: 38.6 (30th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 40.1 (4th)
  • Turnovers per game: 13.3 (6th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 14.7 (6th)

Individual Statistical Leaders (At Season’s End)

  • Scoring (ppg): Lebron James (26.8)
  • Rebounds per game:   Lebron James (8.0)
  • Minutes per game:  Lebron James (37.9)
  • Assists per game:   Lebron James (7.3)
  • Field Goal Percentage:  Lebron James (.565)
  • Free Throw Percentage: Ray Allen (.870) 
  • Three Point FG Percentage: Shane Battier (.430)
  • Steals per game: Dwyane Wade (1.9)
  • Blocked Shots per game:  Chris Bosh (1.4)

Taking a Look Back at the Season that Once Was . . .

SDH Worst to First Recap
Time Period
Change (+/-)
At Season’s End
SDH Player of the Year:
Lebron James

Usually I would go out of my way to find someone on the Miami Heat that is outside of the Big Three of RUN DLC (Dwyane, Lebron, and Chris); however it is getting to the end of this countdown and frankly I am tired of writing.  Nonetheless, Lebron certainly was the team's most valuable player as he led in almost every statistical category on the team; however, despite his phenomenal numbers, there were numerous instances where he did not look as phenomenal as he should have. During the playoffs, he allowed himself to shrivel up and not put up the performances necessary for his team to win and actually hurt his his team in the process.  With all his God given talents of size and strength along with his skills and athletic abilities, you would expect a player like Lebron to be almost invincible; however there is one lingering weakness that prevents him from being that--that of himself.  For a player that is so dominant, he has allowed his opponents to get into his head which led him to play more tentatively which in turn would lead him to not play up to his abilities.  If this season has proven anything, it has shown that the only person that can stop Lebron James and in turn has stopped him is Lebron James himself, and until that is remedied, watch him continue to hold himself along with his team back from being an truly unstoppable force.     

As the Miami Heat hoisted up their second straight Larry O' Brien trophy, instead of the joy and satisfaction that usually comes with winning a second straight NBA title, there was more a sense of great relief because it almost did not happen.  Had it not been for that miraculous double overtime game six win, it would have been the San Antonio Spurs that would have been the ones popping the champagne bottles and wearing their commemorative t-shirts and caps proclaiming their victory.  Head coach Erik Spoelstra would have been fired quicker than you can say "Pat Riley names himself as interim coach,"  and there would probably have talk about Lebron taking a first class ticket out of South Beach.  So much would have simply just fallen apart had the Heat not come back from that five point deficit with thirty seconds left in regulation that it is difficult to give the top spot to Miami despite them winning the NBA's top prize.  Anything short of an NBA title would have been a complete failure and had it not happen, one can go as far to say that the ramification could have been disastrous considering all the money that was invested to create this superpower team.

In the case of this Miami team, it is not just about simply winning titles, but more about making history and forging legacies that will last for generations and thus far they have yet to earn the respect of basketball historians and connoisseurs.  That is primarily because for starters, they lost in their first attempt at NBA gold at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks which can be considered as quite a blemish on the pristine legacy that the Heat had wished to create.  Add the fact that the Heat often at times, did not live up to its facade of invincibility as they had almost slipped and fell not just once but nearly twice off that stratospheric high pedestal that the franchise had created for itself. Before their knock down drag out fight that they had with the Spurs, the Heat faced an equally daunting challenge as they fought to survive against a team that in aspects should have mopped the floor with.  The Indiana Pacers had finished with a less than stellar 49 win regular season and did not nearly have the spectacular season Miami had as it ranked near the bottom in the league in offense; however, this team who many had frankly overlooked, gave the Heat a scare that they would not soon forget.

Similar to the San Antonio Spurs, Miami looked down the barrel of a three games to two deficit losing at home against the Pacers as Indiana beat them in a rather convincing manner holding the home team Heat to just 79 points.  Just like the Spurs, there Pacers also shattered the supposedly invincible facade put upon by the Heat by simply silencing the source of that perceived invulnerability in the team's statistically leader Lebron James.  During the regular season Lebron James was simply unstoppable as he was "faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locamotive and able to leap tall buildings at a single bound;" however, upon arriving in the post season, it looked as if Lebron's super powers had faded turning him into a mere mortal.  And there was no particular player on that Pacers team that really shut him down on the defensive end because there simply not anyone in the NBA that matches James' mix of size, strength and talent; however for some reason, the one who would be called king simply shriveled up and crawled into a hole to hide.  Indiana figured out a way to stop one of the most dominant players the league has ever seen and it was by physically holding him back, which is a feat that is next to impossible to accomplish, but somehow managed to get in his head turning him from the bloodthirsty beast that he was in the regular season.

Although the numbers do not show it, his increased timidity and tentativeness certainly showed on the court as he went from shooting .565 from the field to .510 in the Indiana series with four of those games where hit shoot under .500.  That slight yet noticeable decline in production bled into the Finals in San Antonio as Lebron James all but completely shut down averaging just under 17 points per game while he shot just .394 from the field and as mentioned before, it was not because of some opposing player, but it was Lebron who allowed himself to shut down.  It did not help the Heat that Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were not playing up to stuff either as both he and Bosh were also playing rather sub par than their usual stellar selves.  Wade's offensive production dropped from just a little over 21 per game in the regular season to 15.9 while Bosh saw an even more dramatic drop in his offensive game as his points per game dropped from 16.6 in the regular season to just a shade over 12 per game. With their big three playing far under par, one can say that Miami did not as much vanquish their opponents, but more survived them instead thus further tarnishing their legacy in the NBA history books as one of the league's great championship dynasties.

So from reading on how the Miami Heat shriveled up when they needed more than ever to show that they are not the force that many have envisioned them being.  In fact, one can go as far to say that the Miami Heat can be likened to sheep in wolves' clothing looking all tough and intimidating on the outside, but deep down are shy and timid on the inside--certainly not the kind of team that Heat General Manager Pat Riley envisioned when he originally assembled it two years ago.  Now with one year left until his concoction becomes unraveled, the Miami Heat will be even more pressed to win next year's championship as simply having two straight NBA titles are simply not enough to be mentioned among the greatest teams of all time.  This season, the Heat barely managed to scrape and slip past their competition despite dominating the regular season posting the most wins simply dominating their foes on both ends of the court and it all would for nothing if they had lost that game six against the Indian Pacers in the Conference Finals.  So now the Heat head off into the sunset and wait for next November so they can defend their title once again as the Alpha males of the NBA and hopefully they will put forth a stronger post season performance next year than they had done this year.