Miami New Times. Today, Luke addresses what's wrong with the Miami Heat before the big game against the Indiana Pacers.
I love the Miami Heat, but right now Lebron James and company are not playing like a championship-caliber team. A ball club chasing its third title is supposed to do what the San Antonio Spurs are doing -- beating the shit out of mediocre teams. With the Heat, it seems every game is coming down to the wire regardless of whom they play.
Sometimes, you gotta channel a young Mike Tyson and knock motherfuckers out to prove you are still number one. The Heat has not done that in its quest for a three-peat. There is a conspiracy theory going around all the barbershops in Miami-Dade County that the Heat has been throwing games to get second place.
The road to the Eastern Conference finals is much easier for the team that finishes as the second seed. That means the Heat would play the Charlotte Bobcats in the first round and the winner of the Toronto Raptors-Washington Wizards matchup in the second round.
Interestingly, the Heat has posted a combined record of 10-1 against those teams this season. If Miami gets the top seed, the opponent in the second round might be the Chicago Bulls or the Brooklyn Nets, two teams that have proven they can beat the Heat with size and defense.
The Heat revolutionized the game by allowing players to rest throughout the regular season. It began when Pat Riley brought in Shaquille O'Neal. One of the organization's major selling points to veteran players is that the Heat adds more years to their careers by not playing them the full 82 games. The problem this season is that strategy hasn't allowed the team to build a chemistry.
When Dwyane Wade did play, he and LeBron appeared out of sync. They need some time to get comfortable with each other. That's not gonna happen with the Bulls or the Nets.
The Heat's easier road to a third title is the one with less wear-and-tear that allows the team to gel. The problem is that the Pacers also seem to be shooting for the second seed despite all their talk about securing first place for home-court advantage. The Pacers have lost eight of their past 12 games and are 9-12 since March 4.
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Tonight we'll find out if the Heat is really looking for the path of least resistance.
Tune into Luke on the Andy Slater Show every Tuesday from 2 to 5 p.m. on Miami's Sports Animal, 940 AM.