Wednesday, May 25, 2011
A Dark Realization
I guess they can win it. I guess LeBron and Wade and Bosh really can win the title even though James is averaging 45 minutes a night and Miami’s best guys off the bench are Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem (who hasn’t played in months) and Mario Chalmers. I guess they can win the championship even though their starting point guard couldn’t defend a refrigerator and has been decidedly un-elite at his supposed elite skill.
Damn. I feel like my life has been a lie.
Several events from last night’s game four scared the absolute hell out of me:
1. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are cyborgs:
As we dissected Miami’s chances over the summer, many of us came to one very important conclusion: Because of Miami’s lack of depth Wade and James would be forced to play HUGE minutes—more than any human should be able to handle. But we forgot one thing; LeBron James and Dwyane Wade aren’t normal basketball players—they’re basketball cyborgs.
In some ways I thing we underestimated Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. I think we forgot how good they really are. Somehow, someway, through all the drama of the decision and the greatest free agency period in league history, LeBron and Wade became underrated.
But this postseason has proved us wrong. Watching D-Wade struggle through four quarters of basketball last night, you would not have thought he is one of the best seven or eight players in the NBA. But then overtime happened, and Wade came to life.
First, he blocked a Derrick Rose three point attempt and then he hit a twenty-footer. He drove into the lane and hit one of his patented euro-step layups. Then he blocked a Loul Deng jump shot and nailed the two clinching free throws on the other end. His fingerprints were all over the extra period—both offensively and defensively.
And LeBron? How he played 49 of 53 minutes and failed to look exhausted in his post-game interview I’ll never know.
2. Mike Miller was resurrected:
The Mike Miller we saw last night was the Mike Miller we all expected for the entire season. 12 points, nine rebounds, a steal, a block, and two three-pointers is your typical Miller game when he’s at his best. A healthy and effective Miller makes the Heat ABSOLUTELY terrifying.
3. Remember when we thought defense would be an issue?:
At least I did. Mimai doesn’t have a post defender born in the past three decades; they don’t have an elite defensive big like a Kendrick Perkins or Tyson Chandler. How would they defend that all important five feet of space in front of the basket? How could Wade and James play 40 minutes of elite defense when they would have to expend so much energy carrying the offense? HOW WAS IT POSSIBLE???
I underestimated the athletic ability of Wade and James. LeBron’s defensive performance last night was the single best 49 minutes of defense I’ve seen all season. A 6-foot-8 forward shutdown the fastest player in the NBA. A FORWARD stymied an MVP-winning POINT GUARD.
Twice in overtime and at the end of regulation Rose went for his step-back and twice LeBron didn’t budge. He knew where Rose was going before Rose knew it. I think LeBron has reached the point in his career where he can guard anyone. ANYONE. Put him on the opponent’s best scorer and he’ll frustrate him all night long.
When Wade and James came together 10 months ago THIS is what we envisioned. They’re like a hurricane on the defensive end. No one gets anything easy in transition because LeBron and Wade are feared for their chase-down blocks.
The pair averaged 3.1 steals over the season and the way they fly around on defense, disrupting passing lanes, and bothering point guards is akin to the greatest defensive backcourt the NBA has ever seen—Jordan and Pippen. It’s frightening, intoxicating, and awe-inspiring that the duo is finally jiving.
That’s all I’ve got. Beware the Miami Heat.
Posted by Richard Owens at 5:14 PM