Everybody knows how primed Miami is to get another crack at the title. Not only are they contenders, but the favorites to win the East and the championship eased up off the gas. Whether it derives from boredom or results in losses, the team’s play has been sliding. Since the all-star break, Miami is 4-7 on the road.
What we now know, is that the Heat had a players-only meeting after an embarrassing 91-72 loss at Boston on April Fools Day.
“Everybody who was here last year had something to say at that meeting,” guard Mario Chalmers said.
It was time to address a truth, one first mentioned by coach Erik Spoelstra. The Heat had lost the motivating pain of that Game 6 Finals loss to Dallas. They had to get back to “that dark place,” as they say.
That’s what that players-only meeting was about.
“Just getting back to the hurt,” forward LeBron James said.
“Guys put themselves back in that position,” James said, “back in that place, back in this locker room when we lost Game 6 and they were celebrating on our floor.”
“We didn’t give the young guys the opportunity to say anything,” Haslem said. “Those guys just listened.”
Haslem and Chalmers even went home and watched part of the Game 6 Finals video. They wanted to re-live the pain with visuals, “to get that feeling back again,” Chalmers said.
That wasn’t necessary for James.
“It’s all in your mind,” he said, pointing to his head. “It’s right here.”
“We just have to remember that sometimes the best motivation is to remember the disappointment and the pain,” forward Chris Bosh said, “and I think with this season we kind of got away from that a little bit. So we just have to remind ourselves we came up short last year.”
“Spo mentioned it. Spo brought it up and just said that the pain we played with that first game against Dallas was so obvious,” Haslem said. “I think when we’re playing like that…like a desperate team, I think we’re at our best.”
James seems to be leading the way using, believe it or not, common sense.
“Every team is going to go through a part in the season where you have some lulls and things like that, the schedule gets crazy,” he said. “But we have to understand what we’re playing for. We’re not playing to win a regular season game. We’re playing to win the whole thing.”
The more James talked, the more he made sense. He talked about forming good habits – no slacking off, no taking opponents lightly — and continuing them throughout the regular season, every game.
“It starts now,” James said. “You can’t turn it on in the postseason. You’ve got to start now. You’ve got to build habits now, and then when the postseason comes it’s second nature to you.
“We understand that, and guys remember that point and time when it hurt us last year in the Finals, and we just went back to that dark place to understand what it takes.”
They did bounce back at home defeating two playoff teams on back-to-back night, Philadelphia and OKC. But last night, the Celtics started every quarter with a mission, leading by 11 after the first quarter and never looking back. LeBron James had an outstanding performance, scoring 36 points, grabbing 7 rebounds, and dropping 7 dimes. Dwyane Wade hit 20 points and Mario Chalmers dropped 18, and they combined for 6 steals.
But the defense was late on their rotations, and Boston moved the ball around beautifully to beat them twice in a row. The Heat do need to hustle, because last night they got outworked and waited too long to crash the boards. With that said, these teams will clash one more time at the end of the season, but the third all-star needs to make his presence felt. In those 2 games against the rival Celtics, Chris Bosh totaled just 17 points. He did accumulate 20 rebounds to his credit, but Miami needs him to put the ball in the hoop in the playoffs.
South Beach is still the toughest place to play. Despite losing 2 of their last 3 home games in convincing fashion, Miami clings onto the best home record in the NBA. Although they appear locked into the 2nd spot, they have somewhat of a shot at the first seed, starting tomorrow at Chicago. Especially if Derrick Rose sits out again, they need to take full advantage by playing better basketball. Miami trails by 3 games with 10 remaining. Keep in mind, the Bulls had home court advantage last time around as well, but fell victim to the Heat in 5 games.