It was a nice thought when it went down; the one where the best player in the league decided to go out and join a team with another great player and bring in yet another excellent player to form a ‘super’ team that would take the league by storm. It was a nice thought, for sure, but sometimes thought and reality don’t quite work out the same and LeBron James and the Miami Heat are really starting to feel that right now as they continue to lose to the best teams in the NBA.
The latest loss, a close 87-86 one to the Chicago Bulls, represented all that is wrong with the Heat, which is basically a lack of chemistry and killer instinct. The Heat can get by on raw skill against weaker foes but when faced with deep, talented teams, they can’t keep up for four quarters of play. Oh, and if the games on the line with under 10 seconds remaining, you can pencil in a loss for Miami because they ain’t making the shot. They are a pathetic 1-18 on shots that would win or tie the game in the closing seconds.
And, in all honesty, it’s both Pat Riley and LeBron James’s fault.
It’s Riley’s fault because he fell in love with the thought of three stars and didn’t see the reality that the three of them just aren’t compatible, mainly the top two in LeBron and Wade, because they are just too much alike. They do the same things on the court and instead of complimenting each other, they are holding each other back. What Riley should have done was just team up Wade and Bosh and use the money spent on James to build a team around those two. They would have been just as dangerous, even more so really, and would have been legit contenders for years to come instead of being handcuffed by the salaries of their ‘big three’.
It’s James fault because he brought everything he was with Cleveland to the Heat. Which is basically great talent, a huge ego and an inability to hit the big shot. The problem for the Heat is the last two as that big ego means that James craves the ball in the closing seconds because he craves being the center of attention, yet he’s not a complete enough player to make the needed plays in the end of games. James is the type of player that works best with a defined group of role players, guys that know their part and can do that with enough skill that LeBron doesn’t have to be a closer because they are already winning by a comfortable margin. He just doesn’t play well with guys that are equal to him and it’s showing.
The fix for this team is both simple and unattainable, they need to unload one of these big contracts for a group of solid role players who will compliment the remaining two stars. Either this or someone needs to sit LeBron and Wade down and make them face reality; that the ball needs to be out of James hands in the waning seconds and into Dwayne’s if they are going to close out these close games.
Of course we all know that either of those solutions are as attainable as me finding a million dollars in my back pocket but that’s the reality of today’s Miami Heat. They are a talented team that will be among the top 3 in the Eastern Conference year after year yet will be doomed to fizzle out in the playoffs, where the stakes are higher and it takes teams, not individuals, to win Championships.
This recipe for their season, oddly reminiscent of the past few seasons of the Cleveland Cavaliers, is their future if they continue down the path they are on now and is one that will really tell us the true measure of the Miami Heat…
Which right now is more pretender than contender.