Heat should be Wade's team

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:06 PM ET

TORONTO - With the game on the line and having possession of the game’s final shot, the Miami Heat has shown an alarming tendency to wilt.

When mental toughness is required in a pressure situation, the gang from South Beach has been exposed.

When all is said and done, perhaps Miami will look back and point to moments such as a blown 24-point lead against Orlando, a 30-point demolition by San Antonio and a heartbreaking loss to Chicago as important lessons, as painful as they appear at the moment.

For now, what is being said about the Heat is far from appealing and what is being done speaks to the inherent risks of having two legitimate go-to guys in Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, two bona fide superstars who have always demanded the ball late in games.

Outside of a coaching change, there’s nothing Miami can do except stay the course, try to develop a thicker skin and ensure Wade is asked to make plays.

After all, the Miami Heat is Wade’s team, a destination James chose to take his talents, a place Chris Bosh pined for, a franchise whose face has been Flash’s.

If James’ nose gets out of joint, so be it.

Bosh is the third option, yet it was the former Raptor who heaved an early shot-clock three-ball against Orlando, when he should have swung it.

What has become increasingly obvious with these Heat at a time when the national heat is on the struggling club — even from afar — is that the organization misjudged the ego-driven nature of James.

For seven years, James was coddled in Cleveland, leading the franchise to an NBA final appearance and back-to-back 60-win seasons.

But there’s baggage to James and weaknesses that get magnified when he isn’t producing with the game on the line.

That is why the initial offence must run through Wade’s hands.

The book on Miami is out, a game plan that necessitates the packing of the paint in the absence of a true post presence, the need to slow the game’s pace rather than allow a full-court game that favours the uptempo Heat.

There’s plenty of time before the post-season begins for Miami to get its act together, but there’s no time like the present to address issues that have simply lingered too long.

Adversity has a strange way of providing much-needed perspective and a sense of reality.

The reality in Miami is that the team will only go as far as Wade leads it.

His hamstring injury in the pre-season opener, in hindsight, did more damage than the team, or any player, is willing to admit.

Chemistry is so subtle, but so elusive and at times fleeting.

Right now, the Heat has none and it’s almost laughable how feeble a team that features Wade and James, two guys who can get off any shot they want, executes in crunch time.

In the wake of yet another heartbreaking loss, this time an 87-86 loss to Chicago on Sunday, the Heat has missed 13 straight shots in the game’s final 10 seconds, be it regulation or overtime, that would have won or tied it.

During Miami’s four-game slide, James has missed four of the above 10 attempts.

“We’ve got to be stubborn enough to continue to put ourselves in that position and find the resiliency to break through,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said as Miami got swept by the Bulls in its three-game season series.

“This is painful for every single one of us going through this, there are a couple of guys crying in the locker room.

“It is not a matter of want, it is a matter of doing.”

What Miami is doing amounts to shooting itself in the foot.

The best way to get out of this turbulent time is by turning to Wade.

AROUND THE RIM

Kevin Love can break Moses Malone’s single-season record of posting a double-double if the Minnesota power forward can continue his streak against Dallas on Monday night. A lot has been written about Love’s statistical exploit, which is impressive nonetheless, but the fact remains that Minnesota is 11-39 during Love’s run. To his credit, Love would rather win than produce double digits in rebounds and scoring. “I feel like I am playing good basketball and a few guys are as well, but as a team we need to put all those guys playing well together and start winning some games.” We doubt it ... The burden of carrying the Hornets continues to take a toll on Chris Paul, who missed 37 games last season with a knee injury. On Sunday, Paul collided with Cavs guard Ramon Sessions. Paul suffered a concussion, a diagnosis that was confirmed when tests were taken at a Cleveland clinic, and was taken off the floor in a stretcher. Paul accompanied the Hornets to Chicago, but was not scheduled to play the Bulls on Monday.

frank.zicarelli@sunmedia.ca


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