Thursday, April 23, 2009

Heat Set Pace, Steal One in Atlanta

While many knew that the Miami Heat were not their usual selves in game one of the series, I'm not too sure anyone thought they'd be back with such a dominating performance in game two. We predicted that the Heat would only get better from their awful showing in their first appearance and that Dwyane Wade would finally show up to play the next time around. Not only did Wade step up, he stepped back (and hit six out of ten three pointers). His overall performance told the league, "not so fast before you cast your LeBron MVP votes on the ballot."

Wade was magnificent on Wednesday night, but let's not deny the contributions of a few other key players that made a huge difference in game two.

Jermaine O'Neal had an epiphany in game two. It was as if his knees resurrected from the abyss of injury and gave him a pep in his step from the first to the last minute. To prove my point, O'Neal posted 19 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots; a huge improvement over his virtual absence in game one. Dwyane Wade told reporters after the game that O'Neal wanted to assert himself more in the offense and Spoelstra played on that idea - we all saw the results.

Michael Beasley was another game one non-factor that played a big role in game two. Coming off the bench, he scored 12 points and gobbled up 7 rebounds. If the Heat want to win this series, they will need production off the bench and that's what they got from Beasley on Wednesday night. This time around B-Easy seemed more poised and less anxious to shoot the ball. I believe Spoelstra's order of setting the pace played a role in that.

Daequan Cook was instant offense off the bench next to Michael Beasley. He reminded everyone in Atlanta that he was the Three Point Competition Champion in the All-Star Weekend. Cook dropping 6 three pointers, matching Wade beyond the arch, helped add 20 points to the scoreboard and created a perimeter threat all game long for the Hawks.

Udonis Haslem was not a statistically beneficial to the Heat, but he did come through with big shots when the game was on the line. Mid way through the 4th quarter Atlanta was making a run and Wade received his 5th personal foul. Who came though? The savvy veteran forward with back-to-back jumpers that kept the Heat lead intact. He may have only scored 10 points and secured 7 rebounds, but he was a clutch performer and that's what counts.

Now the Heat head back to Miami where the AA Arena will be packed and rockin'. Miami's new playoff theme, "Black is Back," will paint the arena in a sea of darkness. Black means business and that's what the Miami Heat mean.

One thing we must note is that two games in Miami does not guarantee two wins in Miami. The same way we stole one in ATL, the Hawks can steal one in MIA. The fans will be in full force to support their team and the players will have momentum at their backs. The edge will go to Miami, but the task that lies ahead will not be simple at the least.

Let's see if Miami can repeat their 2004 performance when they dethroned the surging New Orleans Hornets and made it to the second round. Only time will tell if destiny is on Miami's side this time around.


Carlos Serrano said...

Big win for us last night. The Heat are 18-1 when Wade scores 30-plus points in the post-season. Just a little work on defense and if the bench keeps on helping Wade then we wont have many problems rolling into the 2nd round. "This is my house", so it wont be surprising if #3 goes for 40.

David J. Verjano said...

I just can't wait to see how crazy the AA Arena will get. I hope we don't see what happened with the Bulls when they went back to Chicago - they got smoked and the crowd was silent. Let's pray that the Heat continue their stellar play and use the fans as fuel to their fire.

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