What’s happened to the Miami Heat? I have a theory that should please those rare Chris Bosh fans.
Before I get to that, I want to mention that the Indiana Pacers are reminding me of the 2011 Dallas Mavericks at the moment. They may not have the most talent in the league, but they have a lot of talented guys and they’re built like a classic NBA contender. The Pacers front court of Roy Hibbert, David West, and Danny Granger make them a danger to confront. Suddenly, the Heat are reminding me of the Miami Heat from the end of the 2011 season–what I call the “Yes We Did” Tour.
Roy Hibbert and Chris Bosh Are the Keys
Before the Heat-Pacers series, I was driving home late one night listening to a radio preview of the series, pretty much zoned out because I expected the Heat to win in 5, if the Pacers were lucky. I can’t remember whether it was ESPN or Fox Radio, so I certainly can’t remember who the broadcaster was. I’d like to give credit.
Anyway, the man on the radio was talking about ways the Indiana Pacers could give the Heat trouble. One of the keys, he said, was Roy Hibbert. Hibbert’s size could give the Heat trouble on both ends of the court, but there was one problem. That problem was Chris Bosh. With Bosh’s ability to pop out and hit jump shots or put the ball on the floor and drive past a bigger man, the announcer didn’t know how much time Hibbert would spend on the floor. The 7’2″ could be a defensive liability chasing Bosh and others around on defense. More than likely, he’d be a step too slow and get in foul trouble.
The crux of the situation was, if Hibbert didn’t could make it work on the defensive end, he could be a force on offense.
Chris Bosh’s Injury
The Heat won a surprisingly hard fought Game 1. But when Chris Bosh went out with an injury in Game 1, that completely changed the equation. Joel Anthony, Ronny Turiaf, or Udonis Haslem simply aren’t going to make Roy Hibbert play defense the way Bosh would. Instead, Hibbert gets to sit down on the box and be a presence on the inside. On the other end, the Heat have no one to match Hibbert. Meanwhile, David West and Danny Granger are emboldened. The moment Chris Bosh went out, this series became a nightmare for the Heat.
Lebron James and Dwyane Wade had their way in the first game. For the Heat to win this series, the two of them are going to have to have their way 3 of the next 4 games. That could happen. The NBA refs are certain to have an effect on at least one game in a series, probably when the Heat get back to Miami and Wade/Lebron start attacking the basket. But the reason the NBA has less playoff surprises other leagues is it’s hard to pull off an upset 4 games instead of 1 (like in football), while basketball’s 7-8 man rotations have less moving parts than the 18-man rotations in hockey and 25-man teams in baseball. A couple of players can dominate a basketball game more than in any other major league. This series is far from over.
But it’s a double-edged blade when injuries happen, since that takes out a bigger percentage of the team. Lose an all-star in the NBA and that’s like losing 3 all-stars off a football team. So while the series is far from over, I’m starting to believe the Pacers might pull off the upset. Game 4 on Sunday should be pivotal, because the Pacers either hammer the Heat a third time in a row or the Heat pull even at 2-2 and regain the homefield advantage. Stay tuned.