The Miami Heat came out Tuesday night ready to show that the 2013 NBA Championship banner hanging from the rafters was a collective effort. Because if it wasn’t for Chris Bosh’s rebound and Ray Allen’s shot, everyone would be talking about how LeBron James wasn’t enough to carry the team by himself.
They would have looked past the big games from Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers and stayed focused on worn out knees, the disappearance of teammates and uneven game play.
So, what did the Heat do on opening night when the Big Three weren’t so big? In the words of Erik Spoelstra, they put up one of their “more mature, team-oriented games.”
Chalmers had five steals, Allen had seven assists, Chris Andersen grabbed eight rebounds, Shane Battier banged threes and Norris Cole shook Derrick Rose down to his shoes. They even built most of their 25-point lead with the Chosen One on the bench.
But many people came away unimpressed, because the team didn’t heed Wade’s warning.
“Our goal here is not to get bored,” he said via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “Don’t get bored with trying to be great. Go out there every night, compete and understand that we’re the champions and represent ourselves as champions.”
Unfortunately, they stopped representing themselves like champions about half way through the fourth quarter. Which is nothing new. The Heat love to give teams hope, like it’s in their DNA to fall asleep. That’s the only way to explain how a lead as high as 25 could be cut to eight.
It’s a yearly problem that pundits definitely noticed when they question Miami’s ability to — figuratively — take an opponent’s last breath. A problem that Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers and Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls rarely had.
But if you hear LeBron tell it, killer instinct is all subject to interpretation.
“I watch the Discovery Channel all the time, and you look at all of these animals in the wild,” James said to Chris Broussard. “They all kill in a different way. Everybody wants everybody to kill like MJ or kill like Kobe… But there are different ways of killing.”
And I’m sure Spoelstra would love them to find a different way that doesn’t involve 20 turnovers.
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