5. February 2011 01:24
The Miami Heat won at Charlotte 109-97 Friday, in a game that could easily have been a flat or tired spot the night after a huge TV win at Orlando. Does having a superstar triumverate help make Miami immune to back-to-back fatigue situations?
This thought occurred to me as I was reading the crawl under ESPN's game coverage Friday evening. Dwyane Wade had a triple double in the victory, the night after LeBron James scored 51 points at Orlando. Is Miami uniquely positioned to "trade off" scoring loads when confronted with a back-to-back? Does having a third star in Chris Bosh help carry the burden in a way that other contenders just don't have?
Looking up Miami's performances on night two of back-to-back's is easy enough. You see some big wins and some bad losses (130-102 at Denver). But, a closer look helps make something clear. When HEALTHY, Miami has been playing very well on night two as a general rule.
Let's go down the list:
10/27: a 97-87 win at Philadelphia
11/6: a 101-89 win vs. New Jersey
11/20: a 97-95 LOSS at Memphis
Oops, bad result at Memphis. The boxscore shows though that Dwyane Wade sat out with a bad wrist.
11/27: a 106-95 loss at Dallas
Very bad loss here in terms of in-game form. You probably recall the story. Miami was so disgusted with its performance that there was a player's only meeting after the game. You could make the case that the "real" Miami season started after this loss, because everyone's been on the same page (when healthy) ever since.
12/2: a 118-90 win at Cleveland
Yes, this was THAT game...where LeBron James crushed the heart, spirit, and soul of an entire city. The Cavs have been a ghost ever since.
12/11: a 104-83 win at Sacramento
12/18: a 95-94 win over Washington
12/29: a 125-119 win at Houston
I'm going to call this 2-1 because beating Washington by only a point on your home floor is actually a poor performance. We wrap up 2010 with Miami showing five good results and three bad ones in night two. But, since we're focusing on "healthy" Miami, we drop the Memphis loss and call it 5-2. If we want to consider "post Dallas" the real Heat, it's three good games and one bad one.
1/4: a 101-89 win over Milwaukee
1/13: a 130-102 LOSS at Denver
1/28: an 88-87 win over Detroit
The last two in that hunk are obviously unimpressive. LeBron missed the game in Denver. Bosh and Wade both missed the nailbiter win over Detroit. When healthy, the win over Milwaukee makes it six good games in eight, and four of five since Dallas.
1/31: a 117-90 win over Cleveland
2/4: at 101-97 win at Charlotte
That brings us up to Friday night. With the three musketeers in the lineup, we have eight good results in 10 fatigue spots, and six of seven since the Dallas game.
Hey, it's a small sample size...and we've already learned you have to be careful giving anyone too much credit for beating Cleveland badly (nobody's talking about the Lakers 55-point win over the Cavs any more). But, the early returns are certainly good for healthy Miami maintaining their high level of play in fatigue spots.
*Dallas may have had a breakthrough win Friday night in Boston. Though, it was a "first home" game for the Celtics after a Western swing, and a potential lookahead spot to a TV game Sunday with Orlando. The Mavs didn't get the Celtics at their sharpest and most fired up. But, they did beat a championship contender on the road with an impressive effort.
That's a Superleague win for the Mavericks by the way. Dallas is now 15-8. Boston is 14-6. San Antonio's 17-6 mark is league best. Those three teams are the only ones currently over .500 in our 13-team sample. They are head and shoulders above the field when the best play each other.
*The LA Clippers put up a valiant effort in Atlanta, but suffered another road loss. The Clips are now 3-16 on the road this season.
"PTI" on ESPN today mentioned that Andre Miller of Portland was mad that Clippers' phenom Blake Griffin got an All-Star nod over Lamarcus Aldridge. The hosts scolded Miller, pointing out that the Clippers have a better record over the last 20 games than Portland does.
That's true. At the time of the comments, the Clippers were 12-8 the last 20 games, while Portland was 11-9. What should have ALSO been pointed out though was that the Clippers played 15 of those 20 games at home! Portland only played 11 at home. The records are misleading. Plus, the teams played each other within that hunk, and Portland dominated in a 108-93 victory.
And, you know what Miller saw with his own eyes in that game?
Griffin shoot 6 of 17 from the field
Aldridge shoot 13 of 20 from the field
Eric Gordon of LA score 35 points in 44 minutes
You can see why Miller might have thought the wrong guy was chosen based on his own personal experiences. His guy outplayed Griffin in a battle of starting power forwards. And, Griffin wasn't even the high impact guy on his team that night...in a blowout loss.
*Indiana won their third straight under new coach Frank Vogel. And, it was ANOTHER run-and-gun game. The final score of 100-87 doesn't suggest that. But, the teams shot poorly in an up-tempo affair. Porland only hit 36% of its 88 shots. Indiana was at 40%, and padded their margin with a 33 of 43 night at the free throw line.
Tough to maintain that high a pace if you're not used to it. But, this is a young, enthusiastic squad. Might do some damage for awhile.
*Until they hit a wall like New York did! The Knicks lost again Friday, dropping a close 100-98 decision to Philadelphia. The Knicks are 3-9 their last 12 games, and 9-15 since Boston beat them in a much-hyped ESPN telecast.
Power forward Amare Stoudemire was 7 of 19 from the field. He watched Philly counterpart Elton Brand score 33 points on 14 of 23 shooting.
*Good bounce back for Orlando, with a 110-92 win at Washington. The Magic are only 7-13 in the Superleague after Thursday's loss to Miami, but are 25-6 vs. everyone else.
Have a great weekend..enjoy the Super Bowl...see you again Monday Night...