The goals haven’t changed so much, but the answers are starting to appear for the Heat.
In the seemingly epic quest to both find an identity and prove it can perform without LeBron James, Miami progressed quite nicely on Sunday with a 107-102 win against Toronto at AmericanAirlines Arena.
The win gave the Heat its first 3-0 start since the team’s 2011-2012 championship-winning season, and Miami is the only undefeated team left in the Eastern Conference.
“It was a good win, particularly having to go through the motions of having to play against a very good opponent,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We didn’t even necessarily execute extremely well down the stretch, we just found a way and that was encouraging to see.”
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Put together with Saturday’s win in Philadelphia, in which five Heat players scored in double-digits, Miami seems to have settled into its “equal opportunity” offense, as Dwyane Wade called it.
Every Heat player who saw minutes scored, and five different players again scored in double-digits.
Bosh led for the third consecutive game with 21 points, Wade turned in 19 points, and both had 11 rebounds to end the night with a double-double each.
Miami outrebounded Toronto by a whopping 43 to 28.
Individually, Sunday was also Wade’s chance to prove he can be the player Miami needs him to be this season. Bosh had done his part in emerging unquestionably as the team’s leader, and it was Wade’s turn to step up.
Sunday’s win was the first time Wade completed a back-to-back game series since March 10, 2014. The Heat was 0-3 heading into a game against Washington. It was an all-hands-on-deck situation.
This time around, Wade was on the court because his maintenance program, in which the guard played only 54 games this past season in an effort to keep his knees healthy, left when James did. Wade completed only three back-to-back series last season.
On Sunday, Wade had a flashy start to the game, scoring eight points, fishing out six assists and grabbing six rebounds after playing just under 15 minutes in the first half. His performance had some thinking triple-double with at the end of the second quarter.
“I looked up there, I saw I had opportunity,” Wade said. “And then they started missing a few shots, and that was out the window, and I was just going for getting a win.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra didn’t say if 30-plus minutes a game or demanding back-to-backs — the Heat has two more back-to-back series in the next seven days — would be the season’s norm for Wade.
But Spoelstra and Wade said they would be prepared if the team needs him to play.
“We’ll just continue to monitor him,” Spoelstra said. “He’s been putting in the work, and it’s been playing off so far.”
BOSH ON TORONTO
Since Bosh left Toronto for Miami in 2010, the Heat has yet to lose a game to the Raptors.
Miami’s 15-game win streak, which dates to March 2010, is the Heat’s second-longest current winning streak, behind only the team’s 16-game win streak against Charlotte.
“It’s just one of those things, you play the game and you look up and the stats are the stats,” Bosh said. “They tell the story, and that’s about it. But as it goes long, which it’s going longer now, it’s going to be tougher and tougher to get those wins, so later on when we play those guys, it’s going to be more motivation to get it done.”