The HEAT win in a kinder, gentler fashion Thursday 105-93, closing the door in 6 games and finally advancing to the conference finals Monday against mystery opponent TBD.
TBD referring to, of course the winner of Philadelphia and Boston Saturday night. Kinder, gentler game meaning nobody got bloodied or ejected. Not a S-0-F-T game by any stretch, but a definite improvement over game 5 which resembled more NHL than NBA over 3 periods of play. Regardless, TBD is going to have some problems and situations to handle come Monday for game 1 in Miami, given the HEAT’s performances as of late.
Problems and Situations: That should be the new nick-names for Wade and James, because that is exactly what they have been giving out over the past 3 nights against Indiana. (It could be lollipops and butt-kickings, but that wouldn’t look nearly as good on a t-shirt). Thursday, they did it AGAIN. Closing out the series, both brought the pain on the scoring end, brain-surgeon passing and lights-out defense, daring the Pacers along the way to even stop it. Most impressive was Wade (AKA Situations?), 41 points on 17-25 shooting, with 26 coming in the first half. James (Problems) added 28 points, 7 assists 6 rebounds on his own. Mike Miller and Mario Chalmers held their own from 3-point land (7-11). Ultimately the result was achieved by a Wade-dominated team performance in the absence of Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem, showing yet another way the HEAT can win in the Playoffs.
WHEW! Feels good, doesn’t it HEAT Fans???
While eerily similar to another circumstance experienced last year in the NBA Finals (exact situation, by the game, home court and end result, this time going the HEAT’s way) sans-Kelly Clarkson*, the HEAT answered their critics, sending a clear message about their team in a few relevant final points.
1. News Flash: Dwyane Wade is a superstar shooting guard in the NBA, averaging 25.2 points per game and has the capacity, any given night, regardless of LeBron James being in the game or Chris Bosh being out of it, to drop 30, 40, 50 on other playoff teams anywhere.
He has the ability to do that when he’s in a good mood. When he’s in a bad mood, he can rip the heart and soul out of an opponent on their home floor, shake it in their face, throw it down and stomp it out until he gets bored of it, or the final buzzer sounds whichever comes first. Over the past few weeks, critics, media, rival fans, whoever have taken some liberties in making D-Wade into what his game 3 performance was. While a disappointing end-result for that single game, it became no-doubt a turning point in his recent play as well as the team’s execution. Ultimately, D Wade is a catalyst of this team, has one NBA championship trophy and has the keys to get the 2nd one THIS YEAR. And at this rate, it might just-happen, the big question is how he would be able to hold the trophy in one hand, while he’s got opponent hearts/souls in the other. A question HEAT fans can’t wait to see get answered in the coming weeks.
2. Wade-James Domination: See Above. Additionally, the duo that critics say had no chance of coexisting in the playoffs, no way to split up the scoring opportunities, replication of their skills being a hindrance on the court, Wade is too banged up, who will take the last shot, whatever, just sent a message to the world that the equation WORKS. That eureka-moment has just been realized by quite possibly the most dangerous offensive lineup in the NBA. Dangerous, because their 6-million ways to kill you has truth to it. James or Wade, or BOTH can give the 40 point performance when needed, shooting 50% or better efficiency at any given time in a 7 game series. They pass and feed off each other’s energy, superhuman reflexes and instincts, and can BOTH dominate any team at the same time, if and when needed. It’s the dream-come-reality for HEAT fans, the video-game possibility before it was real, going into “NBA Live 2010″ and switching the HEAT’s lineup and inserting James on the team just to see what happens for a whole season. Last year was the test, this year is showing the successful results by steamrolling a worthy round 2 opponent that out sized, out weighed but could not out play them in the end.
3. Team Play: The bond within the HEAT framework, given the recent rough patch was summed up in this series win. If there was doubt regarding any one’s abilities to step up when adversity strikes the answer is in the final results. With Chris Bosh out due to injury, answers needed to be found rapidly to answer the Pacer’s size and power inside. End result? See #1 and #2 above, and add-in tops performances by Udonis Haslem as scorer, defender, enforcer, and worst nightmare all series. Bench play from Joel Anthony and Rony Touriaf proved to be the defensive spark when the team needed it most. Juwan Howard, although light on minutes was heavy in spirit, getting after the tough-talking Pacer’s when their gangster act got a bit too much to digest. Ultimately, the TEAM, through it’s leaders and it’s soldiers got this win under incredible odds. They were the best TEAM on the floor together at any given time and it showed in the final result.
For the HEAT, it’s a 3 day rest (well-deserved), an extra few games for Chris Bosh to recuperate from injury. For teams TBD, it’s 72 hours and counting before Problems and Situations come knocking at their door.
*Curse of Kelly Clarkson, see previous post