It’s no surprise that the regular season has become practically unbearable at this point for the Miami Heat. Game after game, taking on underwhelming opponents with nothing to really fight for except homecourt advantage in the playoffs.
But the games keep going and so must Miami, this time traveling to New Orleans take on the Pelicans.
The Heat (47-20) won a tight game last night, squeaking past the Memphis Grizzlies 91-86. The affair was typical for Memphis, an ugly slugfest that looked destined for yet another Miami loss until a late 14-2 run sealed the deal for the Heat. The “Big 3” was smaller than usual as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh totaled only 40 points on a combined 16-of-40 shooting.
Like I said – ugly.
A win’s a win, though, and for a Miami team that has struggled in the month of March, they’ll certainly take what they can get. Ray Allen was again a huge factor, scoring 18 points including a decisive dunk with only 14 seconds remaining to put the Heat up 4. Interesting nugget on Allen, as tweeted by ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh:
Ray Allen has led the Heat in scoring in 3 of last 5. Previously, no one outside the Big Three had led team in scoring since last season.
— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) March 22, 2014
Looks like Allen got past his late-season shooting slump at the right time, especially on a night when his fellow Hall-of-Fame teammates (James, Wade and Bosh) struggled mightily. With Wade likely out against the Pelicans, it will be interesting to see who picks up the scoring slack for Miami. Greg Oden, who started against Memphis and finished with 5 points, 2 rebounds and 2 blocks in 12 minutes, will probably miss the game as well. Heat Head Coach Erik Spoelstra might insert backup guard Toney Douglas into the starting lineup and, with Oden out, continue to use the platoon of Chris Andersen and Udonis Haslem as frontcourt reserves. Haslem’s recent play has been very encouraging and it looks like he’s ready to be part of the rotation just in time for the postseason.
For the Pelicans, this season has been a disappointing one. Now at 27-40 and completely out of the playoff picture, New Orleans is building toward the future, one that seems as bright as the neon lights on Bourbon Street. The reason for optimism is none other than second-year player Anthony Davis, leading the team in points (21.4), rebounds (10.4) and blocks (2.9) per game. If you haven’t seen Davis play, you’re probably in for a treat. Just turning 21, he’s already been compared to Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan. Impossibly long-armed and freakishly athletic, the young All-Star can frustrate even the most polished veterans – Bosh is probably in for a long night. But his offense has also improved, as seen in a recent 40-point explosion over the Celtics:
The Heat is the better team, even without Wade and Oden, but battling complacency has been a season-long struggle. As the regular season drags on, taking on lesser teams – especially ones led by great players like Davis – can be a far more difficult challenge than expected.
Watch tonight’s telecast of the game beginning at 8 P.M. on Sun Sports from the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. Check back with AllUCanHeat for a recap after the game.