Remember when the San Antonio Spurs crushed the Miami Heat by 30 points, and other teams jumped up to smack the South Beach Three while they were down, and it meant everything and nothing, depending on who you asked? And then do you remember a little more than a week later when the teams reconvened in south Florida and the Heat crushed the Spurs by 30, and everyone who made sweeping statements a little more than a week prior stood up and excused themselves from the table and cried in the bathroom about how wrong they'd been?
The Heat did indeed crush the Spurs 110-80; Miami's triptych of All-Stars scored as many points as the entire roster of the best team in the NBA. Chris Bosh scored 30 on 10-16 shooting to go with 12 rebounds. Dwyane Wade had 29 points and nine rebounds. LeBron James did his Oscar Robertson impersonation with 21 points, eight assists and six rebounds. But no one will say that the Heat have solved themselves, or that everyone who counted them out was wrong. The haters will preen about something like learning from their mistakes and seeing the light, or something. It's still not a close game, right? The Heat still can't win the close game. Ha!
Pardon the flippancy, but everything about the Heat and the coverage of the Heat is so absurd and otherworldly that my axe gets the better of me. As it turns out, the Spurs are a wonderful team who sometimes (oftentimes?) cannot be stopped, and (very) occasionally can't get on track and concede early. The Heat are a great team who sometimes (oftentimes?) cannot be stopped, but often struggles against the very best defenses, falling into a jump-shooting rut and then struggling on defense because they are always, well, on the defensive. Good offense helps a defense, because it's more difficult to get into your defense off the rebound than when the opponent is taking the ball out of the basket.
The Spurs were taking the ball out of the basket all night against Miami. The Heat shot 54 percent. San Antonio had just 12 in transition, and had to play five-on-five against a team with two of the best perimeter defenders in the world in Wade and James. This is why Miami is feared. Because Erik Spoelstra and his staff figure things out, and they have the best tools in the shed to implement the fixes. The Heat fixed whatever was wrong last week, and it's terrifying.
I suppose we can look forward to a 2011 NBA Finals in which the Spurs and Heat take turns slaughtering each other in their own gyms.