There were smiles, hugs and special handshakes as the Miami Heat nonchalantly strolled to the bench against the New Orleans Pelicans. And for the first time in a while, I saw some of the reasons why people love to hate them.
It wasn’t because they were doing all of the things that typically come after a win. They were actually doing these things following lazy play and foul trouble, while losing to the Pelicans. It was the same not-so-quiet confidence that frustrates diehard Heat fans, regardless of Dwyane Wade’s seemingly sarcastic excuses:
“We’re an old team, man. It takes us a while sometimes to get the juices flowing. Playing against a lot of young teams, they come in loose, ready. We’ve got to get our body going a little bit.” (ESPN.com)
Kudos to D-Wade for coming up with a plausible reason for Miami’s slow starts, but in all actuality it has been a problem that has plagued the team for the last few years — especially during the Big Three era. They come out and constantly coast like they are comfortable with coming back.
You hear the sports shows rave about their ability to rally back and their own commentators trump how much fans shouldn’t worry because “the Heat always have one more run in them.”
That type of thinking has become the norm. And it played out again yesterday when the team took the lead by outscoring New Orleans 32-21 in the third quarter — although people like ESPN’s Israel Gutierrez felt like it had just as much to do with the Pelicans’ inexperience:
“Yes, they were without Ryan Anderson on Tuesday against the two-time defending champs, but the suddenness with which a 54-43 New Orleans lead in the third quarter turned into a 107-88 Heat win almost says as much about the Pelicans’ underachieving nature as it does the Heat’s ability to turn it on.”
For as much fun as the video bombs and alley oops are, the reality is that a failed comeback at the wrong time could change the outcome of the season the way it almost did in last year’s NBA Finals.