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SOMETHING TO PLAY FOR
Posted By Sean Eckhardt On Apr 2 2011 @ 4:49 pm In Miami Heat | No Comments
The end of the NBA regular season is fast approaching and the Miami Heat, who have been among the Eastern Conference’s best for most of the season, still have plenty of incentive to play hard for the final six games. After last night’s 111-92 win over the T’Wolves in Minnesota, the Heat find themselves 1/2 game ahead of Boston for the #2 seed and in control of their own destiny. Miami received some help from the Hawks, who were nice enough to dispose of the Celtics in Atlanta last night. While teams at the top sometimes rest their stars before the playoffs, don’t expect to see Dwyane Wade or LeBron James spending to much time on the bench. The Heat still have some things to tweak, and more importantly, they have games to win.
The win on Friday night over the Timberwolves didn’t really seem like that much of a big deal, until the Hawks beat the Celtics a few minutes later. During the game, Miami showed why they are one of the NBA’s elite teams, but also had flaws exposed by Minnesota. By halftime, the Heat had blown a double-digit lead, AGAIN, and actually trailed by a point as they went to the locker room. The third quarter was an entirely different story. Wade led Miami on a 25-1 run and scored 16 points in the quarter. D3 finished with a game-high 32 points on 14 of 21 shooting. Probably the biggest positive to come out of the second half was the Heat’s defense, which had been struggling of late. They held the Timberwolves to 40 points in the second half. We all know that Miami, with their superstar trio, can score with anybody, but the team’s defense is what can carry the South Beach crew to an NBA Championship.
It is no secret that the Boston Celtics have been beating up on Miami for the last couple of years, but there are other legitimate reasons for wanting to obtain the #2 seed going in to the playoffs. If the postseason started today, the Heat would draw the New York Knicks as their first-round opponent. The #3 seed in the Eastern Conference would face the Philadelphia 76′ers in round one. The TV networks would love to see a Heat-Knicks series and fans on both sides would probably love to see it also, but the fact is that Miami matches up better against the Knicks than they do the Sixers. When Carmelo Anthony was traded to New York, Spike Lee and Knickerbocker fans everywhere were convinced that the team could challenge the East’s best right now. Then reality set in. The Knick’s can score, but Melo and Co. haven’t shown any ability to defend on a consistent basis. The only thing they have done on a regular basis is lose and the team is currently under .500. The more film that opponents have had on Carmelo with New York, the less the Knicks have been able to win. Chances are that’s not a coincidence. The Heat and Celtics are currently tied in the loss column with Miami having played in, and won one more game. Boston does own the tiebreaker, but the two teams square off once more, a week from Sunday in Florida. The goal for the Heat is simple; win out. DWade, Bron, and the rest of the boys do control their own destiny. Now let’s see if they take advantage of it.
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