What the Heat must do to keep pace with Oke City
By Mike Ganter, QMI Agency
|Dwyane Wade, if he is not playing hurt, has to be given the opportunity to do what he does best. (Getty Images)
1 More LeBron attack
They will need more of the Lebron James from Game 6 of the East final, when he attacked the rim for nearly four quarters, putting the rest of the Heat on his back and willing them to a win on the road they certainly otherwise never would have achieved. James was, for him, much more human in Game 7 and although he contributed with 31 points, he was not the one-man menace he was a game earlier. This will be James third finals and he’s still looking to finish one off the right way. He took a huge step in Saturday’s Game 7, winning the first of those deciding games in his third attempt. Now he’s got to do it on the bigger stage. The concern is he’ll have to do the bulk of the heavy lifting by himself.
2 Wade bounce-back
Dwyane Wade is not himself. Whether it’s an injury or some off-court issue, Wade has shied away from being the dynamic scoring machine he was in 2006 when he led a much less talented Heat team to the title and was the final’s MVP. He’s not attacking as he once did in his career. The argument has been made that there can be only one alpha dog on a team and that role belongs to James, but we’re not buying that. It makes no sense for Wade to be a decoy in order to allow James to establish his dominance. Use the talent you have would seem the wisest course of action but that’s not the script the Heat is following. Wade’s assists, his blocks and even his rebounding were all up in the Boston series from the Indy series, but his scoring was down and that’s what he does best.
5 Stronger finishes
End of game situations have to improve. If the Heat are to win, they are going to have to be good in close games and so far this post-season, that has not been one of their fortes. Coach Erik Spoelstra, who has done a good job for the most part keeping this star-studded monster of a team together and functioning, has been less than stellar in those situations where his team needs a basket to win or tie. One would think with all that individual talent it would be easier, not harder to come up with a few plays to get someone open. But for whatever reason, Spoelstra seems quite content to let Wade or James go one-on-one with the other team’s best. defender.
5 Get tougher
The Heat is going to have to toughen up substantially. Yes, they got by Kevin Garnett, but he was pretty much an island of toughness in the Boston lineup. Against Oklahoma City, they are going to have to deal with Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka at the rim and the tenacity of a Russell Westbrook and the nastiness of James Harden away from it. This is a team that not only handled the San Antonio Spurs toughness but trumped it. Joel Anthony will bang with just about anyone, but the Heat are going to have to find some nastiness (channelling our inner Popovich here) to match up with Oklahoma City.
5 Bench support
The Miami bench needs to show up. Mike Miller, James Jones and with apologies to Shane Battier have just not been giving the Heat much from the bench. Miller and Jones, who made their names with their outside shooting were a combined 11-for-34 from outside, decent for a guy who also contributes in other ways, but is simply not good enough for one-trick ponies like these two. During the regular season, both players were above 40% shooters from beyond the arc. The answer may already be there with the return of Chris Bosh who has been bumped from starter to reserve.