Sunday, January 8th, 2012

The Raptors, erm, the HEAT take down Atlanta in Triple OT

Published on January 6, 2012 by Anthony Carriuolo   ·   No Comments

After a bad showing by the Heat against Atlanta in Miami, the Hawks had to feel pretty good about facing the Heat without SG Dwyane Wade or SF LeBron James. It was reminiscent of the Toronto Raptors a few years back, where the only applicable superstar was PF Chris Bosh.

Having to shoulder all the star power for the first time in his Heat career, Bosh showed up in enormous ways. Bosh dropped 33 points and snagged 14 rebounds to go along with a double-double from Udonis Haslem and 29 points from PG Mario Chalmers, whose late free throws and big shots in the overtimes made a  huge difference, as the Heat outscored the Hawks 7-0 in the third OT.

Does this  mean that the Heat can hope to contend without their two biggest stars? No. However, the Heat are finding ways to win games, whereas last year they found ways to lose them.

In a game like this, whether out of lack of willpower or lack of chemistry, the Heat would have lost in regulation. But Chris Bosh of all players nailed a fade-away three pointer to send the game into OT. The ragtag group of bench players, Chalmers, and Bosh then fought off every Atlanta rally on their way to dominating the third OT.

This game is just another solidifying factor to the claim that the Heat are a different team. The Heat have found ways to win at the last gasp, have gotten more and more contributions from unlikely sources, and are playing the most unified defense that any NBA team has shown in years.

In fact, just to prove the total contribution from the Heat’s bench, only three players scored in double figures for Miami, with guys lie G Terrell Harris who normally is only around for the ends of blowouts scored nine points and grabbed 14 rebounds including seven offensively.

The outside contributions, the desire to win, the drive to succeed, all intangibles that the Heat did not have on their side last year. Now with the Big 3 settled into their roles even though they still have a thousand spotlights shined upon them are contributing in big ways, sometimes more subtly than others.

The issue last season was each player needed the ball, and each player tried creating too much. Now they know when to use isolation as a means of point generation, but also know when to use their exceptional passing skills to create other opportunities for their shooters and each other. The Heat have been shooting a great clip from downtown, and are doing so but taking high percentage shots inside and choosing their long range opportunities wisely.

If the Heat can combine these on-court intangibles with their incredible array of talent, they will certainly be the favorites to emerge from the East once again even though the conference is stronger than it has been in the last decade. The Heat will look to assert themselves in a more convincing manner every time they take the court, all the way until they hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy


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