Backups? We ain't got no stinkin' backups! San Antonio seems like a good place to take a nap, and indeed rest is what the Miami Heat did while visiting the city Sunday, sitting LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Mario Chalmers with various minor injuries. Sending out a starting lineup of Mike Miller, Rashard Lewis, Norris Cole, Chris Bosh, and Udonis Haslem, the Heat was seemingly throwing this game in the garbage -- but someone forgot to tell the reserves that mess.
Behind a Chris Bosh three-pointer with 1.1 seconds left, the Miami Heat "B Team" beat the Spurs 88-86, a stunning showing of huge balls by the backups. Led by Bosh and his 23 points and nine rebounds, the Heat actually held a lead for most of the game.
Mike Miller nailed four threes and finished with 12 points, helping provide just enough offense to go with the team's smothering defense this night. Ray Allen chipped in 14, and Norris Cole had 13, both while playing huge minutes. Duncan finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds in the loss, while the Heat held Tony Parker to just 12 points and eight assists.
Coach Erik Spoelstra called James, Wade, and Chalmers missing the contest "unforeseen," but most believe this was about as unforeseen as the latest Taylor Swift breakup song. Once the winning streak ended in Chicago, the team's focus shifted to the postseason, as it should, so the team has no reason to push a player into action -- even if his injury is minor.
Amazingly, this was James's first missed contest of the season, and it almost certainly came against his wishes, because he has expressed numerous times he feels a need to
kill the hopes and dreams give fans their money's worth no matter what the circumstances. The Cobra Dick's only known predator is the Cobra Dick himself, thus his handlers must protect him from himself when necessary.
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Although the Heat treated the game like a third cousin's baby shower, it was indeed important in the grand scheme of things -- home-court-advantage-wise. The win gives the Heat a sweet three-game lead on the Spurs for the best record in the NBA, and the 2-0 season-series win also provides the Heat with the tiebreaker if the teams finish with the same record. This all, of course, is meaningless unless the two teams meet in the finals, but it's always better to be safe than sorry.
One has to believe what began as a "meh, fuck it" game for the Heat turned into something more important. Reserves got much-needed time on the floor and, more important, confidence that they are more than hanging around for a ring. The motto when the Heat won the championship in 2006 was "15 Strong," and that team was indeed front to back a true team -- but this Heat is even deeper. This team a few years ago started Carlos Arroyo, and now guys other teams would rely on barely see the floor -- and they savor the role.
Good times in Miami right now. Smiles all around.