Chris Bosh said it before Detroit snapped the Heat’s 10-game winning streak Tuesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.
The Pistons’ size and athleticism in the paint were going to be a good test for what “everyone wants to deem an Achilles heel for us,” Bosh said.
The Heat’s upcoming four-game road swing that begins Thursday night in Chicago should also be a test for Miami in the paint. After the Bulls game, the Heat visits league-leading rebounder Kevin Love on Saturday in Minnesota, hits Detroit for a quick turnaround rematch Sunday, and ends Tuesday night at Indiana.
The Bulls (7-9) no longer have former league MVP Derrick Rose, but they still rank second in rebounds (46.4 per game), fourth in scoring defense (94.6) and have plenty of size and athleticism that can give the Heat headaches if Miami fails to hit its open perimeter shots like it did against Detroit.
Miami shot a season-low 43.9 percent, allowed a season-high 60 points in the paint and was outrebounded 46-34 against the Pistons.
And yet still in the fourth quarter — even with Dwyane Wade sitting out to rest his sore knees and 19 turnovers that led to 29 points — the Heat was within a three-pointer from tying it after trailing by as many as 17 in the fourth quarter, proof the two-time defending champions can turn it on when they really want to.
Starting fast against sub-.500 opponents this season has been somewhat of a chore for the Heat. LeBron James said Miami has to do a better job being aggressive and not settling for as many jump shots. He also said “records don’t matter when we play teams” and “there is no complacency with us.”
But the Heat’s four losses (Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Boston and Detroit) have come against teams that are currently below .500, including the last two at home.
“We play the game how they go, we don’t want to script it,” Bosh said. “Of course we want to come out and play well [early]. Sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t. It was a good [winning streak]. Maybe this is what this team needs right now, going on this road trip.”
“He had a great game and was very aggressive,” James said. “That is what I continue to tell him, stop trying to fit in as much and just be himself. Early on in the game he wasn’t himself. I just told him to be aggressive and it helped out a lot.”
“The steals, deflections, fast breaks going down the other end, saving possessions took a lot out of that first unit,” Spoelstra said.
James, who re-injured his lower back last Friday against the Raptors, said before Tuesday’s game his back was feeling better and there was improvement.
“Some days he feels great. Some days he feels really achy and sore,” Lewis said. “I told him it’s nothing new. I went through the same process. Some days I second-guessed myself, ‘Damn, is this ever going to get better?’ I told him you just got to stick with the program, keep lifting with his legs and even on the sore days continue to get the treatments and do your lower body work and it will get better over time. I told him by January, February of this season he’ll feel better than he does today.”