March 3, 2011; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade (3) dives over the bench and into the fans while trying to save a loose ball during the fourth quarter against the Orlando Magic at the American Airlines Arena. The Magic defeated the Heat 99-96. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Heat are M-I-A

Mar 16, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) and guard Dwyane Wade (3) during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center. The Heat defeated the Sixers 84-78. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

LeBron James carries most of the load by controlling the game and distributing. He got the best of Luol Deng by connecting on 50% of his shots. James nailed a jumper from downtown with 40 seconds to play in the 4th quarter, but he split free throws with under 30 seconds remaining in regulation. Sinking both would have made the score a two-possession game and possibly seal the deal for the victory.

You have to give credit where credit is due, CJ Watson rose (no pun intended)  to the occasion by draining a Dwyane Wade-contested 3 that sent the game into overtime.

Speaking of Wade, he had his moment in the middle of the 4th quarter, willing the Heat by making tough shots contested by multiple defenders. It was all Chicago once the 3-minute mark hit.

Chris Bosh asserted himself offensively throughout the game, but did not come through in overtime.

The South Beach trio scored 71 of Miami’s 86 points. You can point to the Bulls bench mob outscoring the Heat bench 47-7, but the star power fell shot against the deepest team in basketball. Derrick Rose played his 2nd game in a month and it showed. He wasn’t even a factor and in fact, was a liability for the Bulls shooting 1-13.

Remember, between Miami and Chicago you were watching not only elite defensive and rebounding teams, but these are the powerhouses of the Eastern Conference and the class of the NBA.

Should Miami Heat fans be concerned? There’s two sides to every coin, but let me layout the rest of the regular season. You prefer to see them playing better basketball heading into the playoffs, but don’t be fooled.

They do play Chicago one more time this season, as well as Boston. With that said, you won’t be able to gauge this team until the playoffs. They play Charlotte tonight, and check out the schedule to close out the season: Knicks, Nets, Raptors, Bulls, Wizards, Rockets, Celtics, Wizards.

Whether the level of play elevates or not, most of these games should result in wins. Yes, they’re probably going to be the 2nd seed hosting New York or Philadelphia.

I’ve been a huge proponent of going to Chris Bosh early and often, and they did that last night. Anything the bench contributes offensively is cherry on top. You have role players that can capitalize on open looks; but no they are not expected to score, that’s what the big three are for. Everybody knows who does what, they simply need to trust each other and swing the ball around. Playing stationary basketball makes you easier to defend and you can’t depend on your talent putting the ball in the hoop with spectacular shot after spectacular shot.

Mar, 25, 2012; Oklahoma City OK, USA; Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra in the team huddle with small forward LeBron James (6) and power forward Chris Bosh (1) during the second quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena Mandatory Credit: Richard Rowe-US PRESSWIRE

There’s a reason professional basketball teams have coaching staffs. Perhaps this team is playing under a vanilla gameplan because they are a top 2 seed and they are that good. If that’s the case, it doesn’t matter how many times you flip the switch if there’s no light. Having the ability to go 1 on 5 is great. You can score that way, head to the charity stripe, and get teammates open looks. But there’s 48 minutes in a game and in a 7-game series, that story gets old. Coach Erik  Spoelstra needs to put a stamp on the gameplan. Either that, or the big three need to step up their leadership by running more sets and trusting their teammates to get them the ball. Mario Chalmers, Mike Miller, and Shane Battier are unselfish role players. They hustle defensively and make smart plays with the ball, they are fully capable of moving the ball around to hit Wade on a backdoor cut to the rim. They also can throw the ball into the post to James, and they can run a pick & pop with Bosh.

When the defense rotates slower against the better teams and fastbreak opportunities are limited, you have to play half court basketball (especially in the East). They’re not going to win a championship by being stagnant and going one on one all game, every game.

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Tags: April 2012 Chicago Bulls Miami Heat National Basketball Association NBA Playoffs Postseason Schedule Season

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