Miami Heat are ‘playoff-less’, but not hopeless

The Miami Heat’s 110-102 win over the Wizards should be a celebration rather than just a commemoration, for the team will miss the playoffs by a whisker in a tie-breaker with the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers.

The Heat made history in their miraculous second-half effort of the 2016-107 regular season, rattling off a league-best 20 wins in 24 games just after starting 19 games below .500. They shocked the league with their incredible turnaround, finishing the regular season at 41-41.

The Heat were eliminated with wins from Pacers and the Bulls, mainly accredited to the Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawk’s controversial move to rest all of their starters. The ridiculous decision to rest the starters at the last game of the season left a black eye on the NBA.

The Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks’ ‘forfeit’ negatively impacted playoff seeding, and could be an omen that this could be a future NBA
trend.

Heat fans may be upset, but should be proud of their team; for their resiliency should be respected, and Heat President Pat Riley felt mutual about this. Riley was greatly disappointed that his team missed the playoffs, but was pleased with the effort in their second-half turnaround of the season.

“I love what we built,” said Riley.

Riley and his Heat Nation can feel a great sense of optimism with the chemistry the team had built towards the last half of the season. The Heat’s momentum looks to stay a float when Dion Waiters makes his return.

Waiters shined in big moments when he was in the lineup, averaging nearly 19 points and 5 assists during the two-month stretch before his injury. The Heat went 20-4 with him in the lineup, according to USA Today’s Adi Joseph.

Miami was on pace to win 48 games with the momentum the team had built with the former OKC guard, which could’ve been enough to grab the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference. The team immediately saw the impact Waiters left on the team during their miraculous turnaround of the second-half of season.

The Heat organization have the mutual feeling that, if Dion Waiters was completely healthy, they make the playoffs easy.

Now Miami has to put aside their playoff heartache and focus on the offseason, for they have many decisions to make. While the Heat have there building blocks set – Goran Dragić and Hassan Whiteside, they need to lock down key role players who will be free agents this offseason.

Of those free agents, who will be getting paid big money this 2016-2017 season, is James Johnson.

One of the most improved players of the year, James Johnson, has become a force to deal with at the power forward position. Johnson, just alike his teammate Waiters, impressed his peers with his strength and conditioning.

Not only Waiters and Johnson have improved with their play, they have upgraded their fitness and overall health. Both Heat players have lost weight, and felt mutual it benefited their play.

The work ethic of Erik Spoelstra and his players were certainly recognized this season, and will be even more renowned when they make damage in the playoffs next year. Miami will need to focus on keeping some of their key players on the roster this offseason, wether they have to make a trade or even release veteran players like Chris Bosh.

Photo by Keith Allison [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

A new beast of the East?

MIAMI – The NBA Eastern Conference becomes more interesting with new identity of the Miami Heat.

Living in Los Angeles County, an area that has been bleeding purple and yellow for decades, has been hard to be a Miami enthusiast to say the least – especially after there first championship with LeBron James back in 2012.

Having “the big 3”, and the dominating attraction they possessed the past four seasons, has created somewhat of a “target” towards them.

There is always some kind of animosity from fans in the matter of having the best player in the game on the opposition. That’s ok, and it can be understood from a Laker perspective; residing in Southern California, my roots of course started with the Lakers.

Having a fascination with Shaquille O’ Neal at an early age growing up watching the Lakers
for many years, I decided to follow my favorite Laker on his blockbuster trade to Miami. After the most dominating force in the game at that time was traded to Miami, I started to pay more to the east.

Speaking of the East, it is the most interesting part of the NBA Playoffs by far. The
Western Conference of the NBA Playoffs is like throwing a match into a gas tank, you already know how the story will end.

That’s depressing too, especially for us diehard, sport fans.

For the NBA to have so many stars and talent, it seems that the West has consistently had the more dominating teams, and usually consists of the same pack of 8 – San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Memphis, Dallas, Houston, Portland, and the recent trend of Los Angeles Clippers — who are there almost every year.  With the exception of Golden State’s recent incredible, legendary success, there has been a lack of the parody in the Western Conference.

Now that the East is rising, with the teams like: Boston, Atlanta, Indiana, Detroit, Orlando, and the emergence of the Heat once again, there is parody in the NBA Eastern Conference.
With over 10 teams last season with a record over .500, the East is slowly, but surely reversing the trend.

After watching Game 2 of the Miami Heat vs Charlotte Hornets series, it is evident that the Heat has gained a new identity. After losing the team’s star Chris Bosh after the All-Star break, Coach Erik Spoelstra basically had changed his team’s regime.

Leaning heavily on there superstar this 2016 season, Spoelstra realized he needed to change the scheme of his starting five. The up-tempo, fast pace ball play led by Goran Dragić, gives Wade and others more productivity on the offensive end.

While there were questions with chemistry of Goran Dragić and Wade during the first
half of the season with Bosh, Spoelstra’s revision of the offense now has everyone clicking on all cylinders. The emergence of the Slovenian star has boosted Miami’s identify; Dragić opens up opportunities for the team through his poise, playing quarterback for the first eight seconds of the possession, looking for Wade to carryout the rest of the possession if there is nothing there for.

Adding All-Star players Joe Johnson, Lou Deng, Amar’e Stoudemire and the rise of
Hassan Whiteside, has created an absolute arsenal of weapons for the Heat. Admiring
the legend Pat Riley for so many years, I still am shocked at how he still can pull these strings to make his team not only relevant, but competitive.

After seeing the dominance Stoudemire has had on the offensive end in Phoenix for
years, Pat Riley took a chance once superstar, and now has him as a legitimate back up on the bench. Adhering the the team’s weakness of lacking a presence in the post, Pat Riley adds weapons around Bosh and has incredibly taken care of that issue they had on there four-consecutive NBA Finals run. The team’s chemistry has been the best in years Spoelstra said, and it is not going unnoticed around the league.

While the Cavaliers are still the team to beat in the East, Miami no doubtingly can
give Cleveland a run for there money.

With Wade’s effortless 28 points last night, the emergence of the superstar is
incredible, and has amped up team tremendously. Without putting a tremendous amount
of pressure and load on Wade, the team is now able to be balanced in the aspect
their offensive efficiency.

Having trust in their talented rookies, Justice Winslow and Josh Richardson are getting valuable experience from playing several minutes on the court, including the fourth quarter; such youth gives new life to the team. Spoelstra’s confidence in carrying out Miami’s new scheme throughout the season is one of the hardest things a coach can do in the NBA, and for that, he is slowly being respected by peers throughout the league.

With the new parody in the NBA Eastern Conference, it will be very intriguing to see how the playoffs will unfold.

Photo By Erik Drost (EDD_7401) [CC BY 2.0],via Wikimedia Commons