Last week’s record 3-0 (4-2 Overall)
Sunday vs Washington Wizards – Win (103 -93)
Along with the Brooklyn Nets, Washington was the only other team to hand Miami a loss in the preseason and the Heat were keen to make amends with a 103-93 win over the John Wall and Co. at the American Airlines Arena.
Staying true to their starting slow starting ways in 2013-14, Miami were quickly down 9-2 after a sequence of plays which included a sloppy turnover during an inbound.
But despite the careless play, a 16-4 run sent the home team on their way thanks to some excellent ball movement as they finished with 32 assists as well as great shooting after hitting their opening five attempts from 3-point range.
Even though they struggled to hit shots early in the quarter, Miami did manage to extend the lead to double digits on a fast break corner 33pointer. Soon that lead would grow even further to 23 points in the third quarter thanks to some stifling defense which limited the Wizards to just 4-of-22 shooting for the period.
Towards the end of the game, Miami took their foot off the gas and that enabled Washington to close the lead down to seven points within the final minute of the game, but by that point, the result was never really in doubt.
LeBron James led all scorers with 25 points in the game, doing the majority of his damage in the opening quarter as he finished the first period with 14 points. He did however, finish the game with six turnovers as the King continued to struggle to keep a handle on the ball.
His running mates, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, also put up impressive performances with the latter finishing with 24 points and seven rebounds as well as two rejections. Wade finished the game with five dimes and five boards in addition to 20 points as Miami’s masterful performance took their all-time record to 71-31 against Washington.
Tuesday @ Toronto Raptors Win (104-95)
Chris Bosh was absent from the contest due to the birth of his daughter, so Shane Battier filled in for the All-Star big man and the 13-year vet didn’t disappoint, adding eight points in the game. He was finally able to break out of his funk following a streak of 13 straight misses from outside after hitting all four of his attempts on opening night.
Matched up against the smaller Battier and Udonis Haslem, Jonas Valanciunas was troubling the defending champions early on and exploiting the mismatches created by Bosh’s absence , scoring 10 of his 18 points in the first quarter, and he was a big reason the Raptors had the lead. However, LeBron James was the star of the show as the reigning Most Valuable Player put up 35 points plus eight boards and eight assists on the way to the W.
Sure, at first glance LeBron dominated the game, but it was all within the team framework with the Heat recording back-to-back 30-assist games for the first time since January 1995. But perhaps more importantly, the worst rebounding team in the association (also missing a fundamental cog in the middle) was able keep pace with fifth-best rebounding unit; holding Toronto to just 40 boards while grabbing 38 themselves.
Thursday vs Los Angeles Clippers Win (102-97)
Before the game, this was a contest that was seemingly going to be overflowing with highlights, but once it actually got going, they were few and far between.
Granted they did shoot 60 percent in the first half, it could be argued that Miami were perhaps lucky to find themselves still in the contest despite being outplayed. L.A. outscored the Heat 17-2 on fast breaks and completely dominated the rebounding, in addition to Chris Paul running the show with nine assists and out-doing fellow MVP candidate LeBron James, who had more turnovers (three) than rebounds (one).
The second half was a completely different story as Miami, cranked up the heat just as we expected and stifled any attempts Paul made to run the game; constantly double teaming him on pick and rolls, thus leaving the rest of the team to create for themselves. That led to CP3 finishing with five turnovers and he had just three assists in the second half as Miami ran out into a 27-12 run from the fifth minute of the third to the midway through the fourth quarter.
Dwyane Wade was the leading scorer with 29 points in a game where he simply abused J.J. Redick. Wade seemed like he was back to playing vintage Flash basketball as he was making all manner of shots from smooth finger rolls to sweet step back jumpers and thunderous dunks, it was all going for him.
To be fair to Redick though, this was never realistically going to be a good matchup for him defensively and he actually got his own back on the offensive end too as he drained 15 points – 10 of those coming in the first quarter.
Points of Emphasis
Miami have taken steps towards improving their care with the ball play, but Dwyane Wade and LeBron James must improve dramatically as the duo are 11th and 12th so far in turnovers per game. Wade is averaging four slip ups per game while King James is giving it up 3.7 times so far.
Sat. Nov. 9 vs. Boston Celtics.
What to look out for
The game against the L.A. Clippers was the first of a four-game homestand for the Miami Heat so look for them to extend the current win streak to six games. However, Monta Ellis and the Dallas Mavericks could be a difficult game on Friday, Nov. 15.