LeBron James was not in action for the Miami Heat tonight against the Washington Wizards. Neither was Chris Bosh. Dwayne Wade was in the lineup, but he only played a little over 18 minutes and contributed very little. Chris “Birdman” Anderson was also a non-factor tonight, along with Ray Allen and Mario Chalmers.
Add it all up, and the end result was a rare blowout loss for the Heat against a Wizards squad still fine-tuning its parts for a dance with the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs.
A lot of Heat haters will look at this game and point out that this was yet more confirmation that Miami is not the same team that melted the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs to bring back-to-back championships to South Beach.
But if you look a little bit closer, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra’s decision to rest James and Bosh and limit the playing time of Wade, Allen and Anderson on a night where the Heat could had put pressure on the Indiana Pacers for home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, is his way of sending a message to the Pacers.
That message is that Miami does not need the home court advantage to destroy the Pacers’ dreams of bring the Larry O’Brien trophy to Indianapolis. The Heat can kill those dreams on the Pacers’ home court, in front of their fans.
You know which team the Heat remind me of? The 1992-93 Bulls.
If you remember that team, Michael Jordan and his crew basically put the gear on cruise control throughout the regular season, wound up with the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, and were regarded as a team that was not hungry enough to become the first team since the Boston Celtics of the Bill Russell era to win three straight championships.
You know what happened? The Bulls defeated the highly favored New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference Finals and defeated the Charles Barkley led Phoenix Suns by winning all three games, including the series clincher, on the Suns’ home court, in front of their fans.
The Miami Heat of 2013-14 could very follow in the 1992-93 Bulls footsteps. Miami is out to prove that it does not need the home court advantage to make history. The Heat can beat any team, anywhere at any time.
So on Monday night, they all but gave the Pacers home court advantage throughout the playoffs. This is what the Pacers have been chasing since they walked off the American Airlines Arena court follow a blowout loss to the Heat in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals last year.
The Pacers have their precious home-court advantage, but Miami sent a message on Monday night that they can beat the Pacers in their own house.
Are you listening Indiana?