taking the heat
In the wake of another Spurs’ blowout victory, national TV pundits unleashed a torrent of criticism toward the Heat on Friday. Among the notable comments:
• TNT/NBATV’s Charles Barkley: “These were two beatdowns. This series is over. I was 100 percent wrong. I picked the Heat to win the series. As much as I respect what they’ve accomplished, they can’t beat the Spurs. Boris Diaw made Chris Bosh ineffective” because Barkley said Diaw can defend Bosh by the three-point arc better than others can.
• ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith: “It’s over. They don’t have anything outside of LeBron James. Nobody else showed up. It was a pathetic performance. Kawhi Leonard again looked like the best player on the court. If they win, it will involve divine intervention. The Spurs are not just a better team; they are a team in better condition. The thing that has gotten me depressed is [the Heat] were tired in the second quarter. In the first quarter, Dwyane Wade was heaving. With this sense the Miami Heat is no longer good enough, you’ve got to get LeBron help. If you don’t, LeBron may say goodbye.”
• ABC’s Jalen Rose: “Bosh didn’t show up. Gravity caught up with Wade. Rashard Lewis and Mario Chalmers would not be starting on teams this elite if they didn’t have [the Big 3] to play with.”
• ABC’s Bill Simmons added: “I don’t think [Lewis or Chalmers] would be playing for teams this elite. … I saw a guy [Wade] who looked really tired, played three games in five days. He had no lift, wasn’t hustling. He’s not the same two-way player anymore.”
• TNT/ NBATV’s Shaquille O’Neal: “When the Heat turns to one on one, they’re not that good. When they hold the ball, they’re not a very good team, and they’re showing it right now. The Spurs want it more. You need to have a lot of energy and effort. The Heat don’t seem to have that. They miss … Mike Miller.”
• ESPN’s Michael Wilbon: “No energy. Defensively lost. They have no idea what to do. They were shell-shocked.”
• But noted Heat critic/ESPN pundit Skip Bayless warned: “It’s not over. If any team has the psyche to make history, it’s” the Heat.
James, asked if the Heat needs to make tactical adjustments, said: “[The Spurs] put you in positions that no other team in this league does, and it’s tough because you have to cover the ball first, but also those guys on the weak side can do multiple things. They can shoot from outside. They can also penetrate. So our defense is geared towards running guys off the three-point line, but at the same time, those guys are getting full steam ahead and getting to the rim, too.”
THIS AND THAT
• The Heat is the first team to lose by at least 40 points combined in consecutive Finals games since the 76ers did against Portland in 1977.
• Before this week, the Heat had not trailed by as many as 19 points in consecutive home games since December 2008, against Atlanta and Milwaukee.
• The Heat has played 86 playoff games over the past four seasons, the most in history, breaking a tie with the Celtics, who played 85 from 1984 to ’87.
• James’ 19 points in the third quarter of Game 4 were the most by a player in a home Finals game since Michael Jordan had 22 in the second quarter of a 1993 Finals game against Phoenix. “I had a huge third quarter, but it meant nothing,” James said.