Heat-Hawks destined to go to the wire
So, seven-game series it is.
From the beginning, the Heat-Hawks matchup had the makings of a battle that would go down to the wire, considering both teams are filled with relative playoff newcomers and rely on young players doing some heavy lifting.
That’s why you haven’t witnessed any close games so far.
When you have young teams like the Heat and Hawks – the Heat’s average age is 26.2, while the Hawks’ is 25.2 – you get these Jekyll-and-Hyde games.
On Monday night, Mr. Hyde was in a Heat uniform.
Miami shot just 4-for-16 from the 3-point line, gave up 11 offensive rebounds, fell behind at the start of pretty much every quarter and ended up shooting 37.7 percent from the field – while the Hawks shot at 42.4 percent – en route to an 81-71 loss at home.
But here’s my big question: How does Michael Beasley only play 11 minutes?
I was never for “Be Easy” being the starting power forward over Udonis Haslem, but I am for giving the youngster a decent amount of playing time. Especially against the Hawks, who start four perimeter players and Beasley can match up pretty well against.
But as the fourth quarter winded down and the Heat needed offense as they saw themselves fall behind by double-digits once again, all the cornrowed one could do was sit and watch.
It’s obvious Erik Spoelstra just doesn’t trust him in crunch time. But I would understand that in a close ballgame when Beasley will have your occasional mental relapse. But down by 10 points with five minutes left and with Dwyane Wade struggling? Put him in the game.
Oh yeah, back to that Wade guy.
Not his best effort, eh?
The Hawks’ defense went back to stifling Wade every time he touched the ball – lingering back pain didn’t help, either – and “Flash” shot a horrendous 9-for-26 from the floor.
It just goes to show you how bad the Heat can be when Wade isn’t himself.
In the two Heat losses, the former Finals MVP has combined to score 41 points while shooting 17-for-47 from the field. In their two wins, he put up 62 while going 21-for-41 from the floor.
Positives: Jermaine O’Neal (20 points, six rebounds) continues to play well – even if it doesn’t help advance Miami to the next round, it’s a big positive going into next season, which is the final year of his contract – and James Jones seems to have found his shooting touch, hitting three 3-pointers and scoring a career playoff-high 19 points –back-to-back four-point plays, are youkidding me?
One lingering negative: Another forward, Jamario Moon, missed the game because of a groin/abdominal strain and is questionable for Game 5. He’s a good defender who brings a lot of energy, and although he’s been delegated to the backup role, he’s critical if the Heat want to steal one on the road.
And that’s the only question left to answer.
Can the Heat win one more game on the road?
They’re a very young team – a relatively untested playoff team – and the Phillips Arena will be rocking on Wednesday. You can chalk up Game 6 in Miami as a victory by the Heat. They won’t let that one slip. But they’ll need to win one in the ATL.
Can they do it?
Yes, they can. But Wade will have to be great – that’s the only way.
Regardless, though – no matter what happens – I only ask one thing: Can we have one close game, please?