Tag Archives: Dallas Mavericks

Is the Heat culture adapting?

In the wake of Chris Bosh’s 37 point, three pointer game winner, many are starting to take notice that this Heat team is not just a conglomerate of mercenaries but something more.

They are proven winners with a proven system. They have a plan.

It is not easy to win one title in the NBA, let alone two in a row. The Heat are shooting for a three-peat and are doing it with Dwyane Wade sitting out games and Lebron James being given less minutes over the course of the season. The reason? Keep them sharp and healthy for the playoffs – the same notion that got Coach Popovich in hot water last season with his aging veterans.

USA Today published an interesting article with insight into the adaptation. Miami has always had a winning culture – instilled in them when Pat Riley made the move from New York to Miami back in the mid-90’s. He brought in Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway, PJ Brown, and others to build a gritty, tough winning franchise. The Heat, for years, had been solid – making runs to the playoffs every few years but never quite getting over the hump despite the best efforts of players like Glen Rice, Steve Smith, and Rony Seikaly. The common denominator? The culture was different.

After Riley took over at the helm, he began instilling a championship vision. In his opening press conference he made mention of his now famous vision of a parade waltzing down Biscayne boulevard. This led to a daring Shaq acquisition which vaulted the Heat back into contention again since the days of the Zo-led Heat of the mid-90’s.

In order for the 2010 offseason of miracles to happen, the foundation had to be laid in place. Wade and Udonis Haslem were the cornerstones of this foundation. In Wade, the Heat had a star that could lead by example – he had been Finals MVP in 2006 while leading the team to its first ever title. In Haslem, the Heat had a gritty player in the lineage of a Grant Long and a PJ Brown. He was a local kid that had tremendous heart, playing overseas after his days as a Gator, losing weight, and turning into a very serviceable, if under-sized, power forward. He had flaws in his game, but he was a tireless worker.

Now, the Heat have appeared in 3 straight NBA Finals – and are shooting for a 4th. They are off to their best ever 23-7 start. The critics have talked about how mental fatigue will set in – human hunger and thirst for greatness has to be eventually quenched at some point. For the Heat, the trick is keeping them sufficiently “greedy” while also making the run at titles their sole purpose. Excellence is the standard, nothing less. For lesser situations and cultures, this would never work. A team might get over the hump once and get lucky (see the Mavericks of 2010) but sustainability is tied to the idea of not being stagnant. Once must not get too comfortable and seek to be defined, but rather must go beyond the familiar in order to keep pushing the boundaries.

Chris Bosh is a pretty good example of that. He has taken to living in south Florida, and has been working on his Spanish to the point that he can speak it a bit publicly in doing interviews. It is this knack for continuing to educate oneself, to never be satisfied with your current state, that leads one to transcend normal boundaries.

Erik Spoelstra has recommended Fred Hassan’s Reinvent: A Leader’s Playbook for Serial Success to his players. Following in the Riley mold, Spoelstra is finding ways to engage his players’ minds – as that will drive their efforts and guide their collective vision for success.

The USA Today article really gives insight into the process that Spoelstra often refers to in post-game interviews. It is more of a mentality than anything, something that simply cannot be bought and paid for but something that has to be a part of someone. This trait also has to be recognized by evaluators and cannot be easily quantified with measurements and data. This is one of the reasons why teams that succeed continue to have success while those that don’t fail despite finding players with good skill sets. The Spurs and Heat, for example, have a culture and find the players to fit those components. As Wade says in the article, “You’ve just got to play, to continue being hungry. I think the biggest thing is that each person has to be self motivated. You’re self motivated to want to continue to be successful, and that’s half the battle.”

Miami Heat and MiamiHeatwave Are Back!

With the NBA finally getting things done with their much-anticipated CBA, the games will start on Christmas Day – with our Heat forced to watch the Dallas Mavericks raise their championship banner. And MiamiHeatwave.com will be right there with the rest of us loyal Heat fans, watching Run DLC shift into year two and finish what they started. Only 66 games until the playoffs, and we will be right there the entire way for our 8th year. Stay tuned!

Mavericks Stamp Out Heat; Rise to Champions

It wasn’t supposed to end this way, but end this way it did. It was supposed to end with Wade and Lebron, hugging at center court, with the trophy in their grasp. It was supposed to be a moment of elation, a moment of validation. It was supposed to be a moment where the criticism and the titles of “soft” and “not clutch” melted away.

In a way, it was – just not for Lebron James, but instead for Dirk Nowitzki.

The Mavericks beat the Miami Heat on their home court in Game 6 to take the title for the NBA’s best team this season. They did it with heart, with grit, and by never failing to believe in themselves. These were supposed to be the traits the Miami Heat were going to display on their way to an inevitable title. The Mavs proved themselves to be the better team while winning two games in Miami – a feat not accomplished at all during this postseason by any other team. The Mavs proved to have the better offense, despite being characterized as a one-man team while the Heat had their big three. The Mavs also proved to be the better defensive team, the better coached team, the deeper team. They held all the intangibles as the series ground down to its eventual conclusion.

While there is going to be a lot of criticism mounted on the Heat, the fact that they ran their way to the NBA Finals in their first year as a team should not be forgotten or overlooked. It is extremely hard to get to an NBA Finals, just ask the Bulls and Celtics as both franchises felt they were in contention. The Heat should not be characterized as anything other than the best team in the Eastern Conference. Their failure in winning the title was not so much by their own doing as it was also by the Mavericks making the most of every opportunity that came their way. There was a chance to rally at the end of Game 2, the Mavs did it instead of laying down and accepting they weren’t supposed to win. Game 3 saw a defensive stalemate bested by a Bosh jumper on the wing – it could have gone either way. The Mavericks talked up their game and came out the more desperate team and stole Game 4. They pushed the issue in Game 5. And when you thought their time was up and the Heat were going to get back on track, they came down to Miami and snap the neck of their mighty opponent on their home floor. Dirk Nowitzki couldn’t lead his team there, they carried him to his first ever title.

And the party is still going on in Dallas.

As Heat fans, we will try to rationalize this loss. We will say, they’ll be back and we will point towards the future as it is human nature to point to ever-fertile potential of tomorrow. Still, we will have to swallow losing to Dallas in 6 games on our home floor despite what we thought our hometown heroes were capable of. In truth, it is a good start for this new team, to have a little bitterness mixed in with sweetness. The fact is, the Mavs were ready and the Heat were not. They should be commended for their accomplishment. Now, the Heat have to look to the Mavs to try and learn what went wrong. And to not make the same mistake again.

Dear Miami; Really is Now or Never

A lot of hulabaloo over losing Games 4 and 5 in Dallas, huh?

Well, the stats say 73% of teams that win Game 5 win the series. So, it is the Mavs series to win. Then again, wasn’t Dallas up 2-0 heading to Miami back in 2006? That team just needed one win in Miami to take control of the series, too.

Something to ease our minds:

“Dear Miami, you’re the first to go

Disappearing under melted snow

Each and everyone turn your critical eye

On the burning sun and try not to cry…”

Seems applicable to the way things are going these days for the Heat. The time is now or never truly, Lebron. But this isn’t all about Lebron, despite the media’s outcry. This is a game in which they have to defend better and get back to spreading the floor and generating free throws. Erik Spoelstra has been able to avoid strong criticism, but he is definitely failing his team at this point in making seemingly winning adjustments. Everything Rick Carlisle has done to this point has worked and the Heat, under Spo’s guidance, have been avoiding making any changes maybe out of a lack of confidence.

Then again, everything can change back in Miami. We’ll see Sunday.

Oh, and if you think it can’t be done, just look at the Lakers/Celtics finals in 2010. Boston had a 3-2 edge then went back to LA…

Dirk Has Cold, Heat Goes Cold in Game 4

If you told me that the Heat would shoot 42% and get very little production – on either end of the floor – from one of their best players in Lebron James and still have a chance to win, I would have laughed in your face. No way. You would add that the game would be won in the low 80’s and the Heat would only lose by 3 on the road, in Dallas, with the Mavericks backs against the wall playing for all the marbles in this series – and still, I would say you’re crazy.

But, no one is giving the Mavs any credit. They are saying that the Heat lost this game and point the finger to Lebron, who attempted only 1 shot in the 4th quarter. They almost steer clear of any mentioning of how the Mavs had more at stake and how Dwyane Wade made some critical mistakes down the stretch, too.

Let’s not forget the Mavs: they had quite a bit of drama heading into last night’s game 4. Dirk Nowitzki played with a 101 degree fever. Jason Terry found himself admitting that Lebron James had shut him down in Games 1 and 3, but not in Game 2 and asked if Lebron could keep it up for seven games. Deshawn Stevenson called Dwyane Wade and Lebron James great actors.

The Heat? Stayed composed. There was no fire across the bow. No diatribe to spark paper clipping collecting. Simply put, the Heat got beat. They got beat by a team that was at home, more desperate for a win, and fed off of that scenario to get it done. You tip your cap to your opponent, make no excuses, and get back to work.

Yes, the Heat were able to build up leads throughout the game, but the Mavs were able to answer and go on runs. You will hear coaches so this is a make or miss league. Some nights, with even matches, you will make a shot and you’re the hero. You miss a shot, and you’re the goat. (See Dirk Nowitzki in Game 2 then in Game 3.) The Heat made shots in Game 3, the Mavs made the shots in Game 4. Yet, even that isn’t such a strong indication of this game.

The Mavs shot 6-19, 32% in the 4th while the Heat shot 32%. Despite the horrific field goal percentages, the Mavs outscored the Heat 21-9 over the final 9:58 of the game. The Heat offense does get clunky at times, but the only player able to score consistently throughout the game was Dwyane Wade, who scored 32 points on 13-20 shooting. Chris Bosh did score 24 points on 9-19 shooting, but most of that scoring came in the first quarter.

Lebron James only put in 8 points and was largely lost in the game outside of some spectacular assists and strong defense. Deshawn Stevenson claims James “checked out”.

Realistically, a finger can be pointed at Wade, too. He did drop the ball on a possession that would have given the Heat a chance for a shot at the end of the game but also, he missed one of two free throws which would have had a larger impact on the end of the game.

Speaking of, no team seemed to have the ability to score for the final minutes of the quarter. In fact, in the final 2:16 of the game the Mavs hit 4-4 on FTs while making only 1 FG. The Heat were 3-4 on FTs while only making one field goal as well. So it wasn’t like anyone shut it down and put this game to bed at the end of the game.

The Mavs should have blown out the Heat last night. They got more production from their bench and their starters than the Heat did. Tyson Chandler, Shawn Marion, Jason Terry, Deshawn Stevenson, and Dirk Nowitzki all had double figures in scoring. For the Heat, only Wade and Bosh had double figures. The Mavs shot 39% while the Heat shot 42% but a lot of the Mavs shots were misses – not because of the Heat defense, but just because they were rimming out. Nowitzki actually should have had a lot more production, considering his 6-19 night and fever, his shots were just spinning out.

The Mavs should have won last night’s game and in truth, it was expected. The Heat really didn’t have much business being in this game with Lebron only scoring 8 points and getting very little production from the rest of their team. Outside of a 40+ point performance from either Wade or Bosh, the Heat just had too flat of an offense and defensively were not able to solve Chandler’s offensive rebounding (9) and Marion’s clean-up offense. They were at home, got more FTs and had more to play for than the Heat.

If the Heat have shown anything this year, it is their ability to play better when the drama increases. They will get their chance to do so because, statistically, the winner of Game 5 with a series tied 2-2 wins the trophy 73% of the time. If the Heat can pull it off, they will go back to Miami up 3-2 with a 9-1 record at home this postseason.