The Miami Heat have enjoyed an unusually long stretch at home capped by an unconventional win in over the Minnesota Timberwolves before heading to Dallas for just their second road contest in the last 12 games.
“[Going on the road] is going to be the time where we can look to really hone in on our game and see what we’re made of … it’s going to be tough to win,” Dwyane Wade said. “To be able to pull off some good wins on the road makes you feel real good about yourself, [and] more confident as well.”
Regardless of the unusual numbers from Tuesday night’s win — outrebounded 52 to 24 but posting season-highs in blocked shots (14) and steals (12) — the Heat hopes to continue its momentum and confidence as the team hits the road.
“That is our identity,” coach Erik Spoelstra said.
“To create havoc on who we’re playing and try to make them uncomfortable.”
The Heat has responded to slow starts this season with clutch performances late in games, but Tuesday’s game was a different story.
Instead of falling far behind early, the Heat responded with scrappy, physical and efficient basketball to run away from the Timberwolves en route to a 103-92 victory at home.
Miami has been very good at that. As Chris Bosh said after the game, “Good teams always find a way to win.”
As important than the win was the productive play of Miami’s point guards, Spoelstra said.
Mario Chalmers broke out of his recent slump to score 12 points, hitting 4 of 6 three-pointers and Norris Cole added eight points off the bench in 25 strong minutes.
“We just want to get productive 48 minutes of basketball from that position,” Spoelstra said at the morning shootaround.
Both guards earned praise from the Timberwolves locker room.
“I give Norris Cole all the credit. I like his game. He’s a tough kid,” Minnesota guard J.J Barea said. “He’s a little younger and quicker at the point, he’s also a little bit smarter. I think Spoelstra is doing a good job of putting Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole in good situations.”
Earlier in the day, Spoelstra thought it was just a matter of time before Chalmers was back to form and playing with the confidence he had earlier in the season.
Chalmers was 4 for 7 from the field with a block and three steals. He knocked down a season-high four from beyond the arc.
Cole put on a show when given the opportunity. When Kevin Love missed a dunk at 4:42 of the second period, Cole was right there to take it back. On a fastbreak, he scored a lay-up that ignited the AmericanAirlines Center crowd.
Cole surpassed Chalmers in minutes for just the fourth time this season and posted two rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks to go along with his eight points.
“[Mario and Norris] know that we are a better team when we’re getting solid point guard play, and they’re both mature enough to understand that it’ll change game to game,” Spoelstra said.
The road is where teams are tested, and confidence from Chalmers and Cole collectively will only fuel the good to get better. They hope for a passing grade.