Monday, February 28, 2011

Miami Heat: Losses to Chicago and New York Can Be a Good Thing

Whenever I see an empty cup, I immediately think to myself: “that cup has the potential to be half-full.” It has the ability to be empty, as it is right now, but there is a positive outlook for this cup if I can get it to, at least, a half-empty state. Cups are continuously filled across this great planet of ours. Some even have the most popular tournament in the world named after it- the World Cup.

Similarly, if I come across a half-full cup, I immediately think to myself: “poor cup, it was full at one point, but then it was deserted, left to be disposed of along with the other half-full, half-empty, and empty cups.” Clearly, someone filled this cup with a loving flow of the sweet nectar of mother earth, will all of its diverse flavor and form, and after determining that this nectar, when combined with this cup, did not fulfill the pallet with the energy and force with which she is accustomed, left it alone in pursuit of a better, more satisfying cup.

The Miami Heat’s cup was overflowing last summer. Everyone in the organization-owners, players, and fans alike- celebrated the cup and dreamt of the joy it would provide a town whose true roots are on the gridiron, but whose passion extends equally to the glitz and bling, bright lights and shining stars that normally accompany a Pat Riley led franchise. The Heat became more than another Miami sports team when Chris Bosh and LeBron James decided to take their talents…to join Dwyane Wade. They became the symbol of better things to come, a team whose exploits on the court would parallel the revival of the city off the court. While the Big Treat collected gold trophies, the magic city would cash in on the momentum of this newly found and unprecedented hype and exposure. Yes, Miami was again the center of the universe, or at least the NBA, and the future was bright.


When examining the Heat’s current situation, it is easy to suggest that the glass is half-empty. In less than a week, Miami has squandered double-digit second-half leads against two of its main Eastern conference competitors while allowing both to record bold statements that will resonate until playoff time.

The Bulls, fresh off Joakim Noah’s return to the lineup after missing two months due to a thumb injury, showed the Heat that they have all the makings of a Finals team. While Miami is still adjusting to the arrival of its two new stars, Chicago moves along without missing a beat. The Heat must maintain their slight conference lead and beat the Bulls in Miami in order to counter the Bulls’ claim. A win at home, along with home-court advantage in the playoffs, would shift the pendulum in the Heat’s favor.

The Knicks, fresh off their blockbuster acquisition of Chauncey Billups, showed the Heat that they can adjust to new surroundings quite quickly, and chemistry can be produced at a faster pace with the addition of a little point guard savvy. Is there any reason why the Knicks should not feel that they are better than the Heat right now? Unfortunately for Miami, they cannot dissuade any opinions concerning this matter until the post-season, a series that could signal the official dawning of a new era in the NBA.

Beating Boston was supposed to be the last hurdle. It didn’t necessarily matter what the other teams were doing as long as the Heat could continue to harness the energy formed by the combination of three of the most athletic and versatile talents in the game and channel it correctly. This natural process would eventually allow Miami to form an identity which would be powerful and tested enough to down the Celtics when it mattered most. Now it seems as though the road to the Eastern conference crown will be more crowded than originally thought.


The playoff dinner table is getting tighter. There is only so much food left, only so many statements that can be documented.

With the next ten games versus playoff teams, including eight at home, Miami can record a statement now that they can deliver in April.

There is plenty of concern about the Heat’s record versus +.500 teams (14-15), and for good reason. The concern can be discarded as overreaction because the true tests will come in the playoffs, but in order to alleviate any doubt among the organization, the team must take a playoff attitude from here on out. The lack of playoff experience is a major perceived flaw, and this stretch will be as close as it gets to simulating a playoff atmosphere, similar to the one last night at home vs. New York.

These two recent losses can be described as a blessing in disguise, as long as the Heat now realize that lackluster efforts will only lead to agonizing defeats.

Sometimes that needs to be reinforced.

I like a free refill as much as the next person, but I’m not finished with this glass. There’s still half a cup left.

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