For the remainder of the postseason, after every game writer Jimmy Cook will give his thoughts on how hot or cold the Heat currently are. These stages range from White Hot (everything is legendary) to Ice Cold (we’ve got serious issues in South Beach). So, without further ado, the debut of JCook’s “What’s the Temp?”
Current Temperature: WARM and RISING
After a defensive no-show in their 107-96 Game 1 loss to the Pacers the Eastern Conference Finals, the Miami Heat knew the importance of capturing Game 2 in Bankers Life Fieldhouse before the series would shift to South Beach.
Teams that take a 2-0 lead in a best-of-7 NBA playoff series win the series 94% of the time
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 20, 2014
One thing the Heat might not have realized going into Game 2, was that history was on their side.
I know what you’re thinking and YES, that’s an active streak that started the first year Bosh, James, and Wade joined forces in Miami. FOUR YEARS and they had never lost the first two games of a series.
Of course, if that streak was going to continue, LeBron and Co. were going to have to play 100x stronger. LeBron knew it heading into Game 2. “We want to perform better in Game 2 than we did in Game 1 – we’re looking forward to that opportunity. We’ve corrected our mistakes and we have a clear mind on what we need to do tonight,” said James.
And by God they kept their promises.
Sure it was a slow start…but the end result? Beautiful, absolutely beautiful. It was like Christmas Morning. The defense was making rotations quick and smoothly, recognizing pick and rolls, hustling for 50/50 balls, and providing help at the proper time.
This was the efficient, fine tuned, defensive machine we had all hoped would show up in the playoffs, and finally it did just that.
However, tonight the fearless leader wasn’t Chris Bosh or Dwayne Wade or even LeBron…no it was the captain of calm, the master of motivation, the one and only SPO!
Look at him, just look at him! He’s so in the zone he’s practically out on the floor playing defense with his players! That’s how it was from the get go, and while some Pacers fans may have wanted a technical, the point is Coach Spo guided this team on both sides of the ball on almost every possession from the opening tip to the final horn.
This tactic, along with two lineup decisions down the solidified a two thumbs way up for Spo:
To preface move Number 1, I’d like to introduce the thorn in my side on this Indiana Pacers roster. The Pacer that stands above all other Pacers as the one I can’t stand.
I respect his athleticism, his raw talent, his energy, his started-from-the-bottom-now-we-here-mentality, and his fearlessness…but he’s a…well to put it in professional terms, he’s a handful.
Any guesses? Anyone? Any Pacer that comes to mind? Nobody? Okay.
That’s right, it’s the Dancing Lance Stephenson.
He’s the type of player where if he wasn’t on your team, you’d hate him because he drives you nuts, but because he’s on your team you love him (like Joakim Noah or our very own Birdman…no offense Birdzilla, you the man).
Despite all that hatred, the self-proclaimed Born Ready put on a show in Game 2.
But then, Spo move number one came into play…leaving THE PRIDE OF CLEVELAND STATE Norris Cole on Stephenson for the final stretches of the game.
The end result?
Okay so Cole didn’t cause that particular play but that was the end result. He kept Stephenson in check when he looked almost unstoppable, especially on pick and rolls which were a catalyst for the Heat in Game 1.
In addition, the extend play of the Birdman/Birdzilla Chris Andersen proved to be a difference maker. Though he only had 3 points, he collected a team high 12 boards, and banged with Roy Hibbert down low forcing the Big Dog outside of the paint just like UD does.
These two decisions are how Spo and the bench turned up the Heat in Game 2.
However, the nail in the coffin came in the form of a duo we’ve missed seeing in dominant form.
In fact, a few of us on staff were waiting for Batman and Robin to start protecting the streets of Gotham again.
Need to see more play between LeBron and Wade. Heat sorely missing that dynamic.
— Wes Goldberg (@wcgoldberg) May 21, 2014
Of course we would all come to our senses eventually…
Down 1, on the road and LBJ only has 10pts heading into the 4th? I like our odds — Jazmyne H. (@AsToldByJLee) May 21, 2014
This is a vintage 2009 Dwyane Wade. He’s clutch and hits midrange shots.
— Wes Goldberg (@wcgoldberg) May 21, 2014
The end result? The Dynamic Duo of Bron and DWade combined for 22 points in the fourth quarter, which, when added together, gave them both 22 and 23 points respectively for the contest. It was beautiful, simply beautiful.
This collective effort by the Heat is why the image that began this article has the White Hot Logo above Game 6, because the hope is that Miami can capture the series 4-2 in the friendly confides of AmericanAirlines Arena, and advance to the NBA Finals for a fourth straight year, with the dream of a Trey by the Bay very much alive. That, however, is only a hope. Nothing is guaranteed, and the Indiana Pacers can easily steal home court back in South Beach. In fact, each of the last 2 postseasons the Pacers have captured a victory in the first set in Miami. So nothing is guaranteed and this win doesn’t eliminate Indiana. Only 4 wins can do that. 1 down, three to go…but they’ve got to take it one game at a time.
.@KingJames: “We’re not comfortable, we’re not satisfied at all. Preparing for Game 3 starts tomorrow.”
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) May 21, 2014
Maintaining Focus, Understanding Objectives, Remaining Hungry.
That’s the mentality of a champion.