When the game is winding down to the final seconds, and the player on offense dribbling up the court is defended by LeBron James, that player needs to find a teammate not guarded by James.
The Miami Heat had the Cleveland Cavaliers right where they wanted them, the Heat then let them off the hook.
LeBron James scored 24 points and stymied Miami’s James Johnson before he could get off a shot in the final seconds as the Cavaliers began an extended period without injured All-Star Kevin Love beating the Heat by cat whisker hairs 91-89.
The Heat faced a team not only without love but seeking answers to an abysmal month playing basketball in January. Cavs went 6-8 to start 2018 and have a game and half lead over the Heat for the third seed in the Eastern Conference at the moment.
“I was going downhill against him. I liked what I was doing. The only thing is, he’s LeBron,” Johnson said.
Goran Dragic scored 18 points, and Josh Richardson had 15 to carry the Heat. However the Heat was ice cold and nearly won anyway. Moreover, there were air balls at the free throw line courtesy of Heat players that will go unnamed. Miami drops to 17-6 when holding opponents under 100 points.
“That’s why we really wanted to get this game,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said. “This would have been such a great game to win when we played horribly offensively. To be there at the end, shooting what we did from the 3-point line, free throw line and turnovers on top of that, these are the real gratifying wins if you can find a way — but we didn’t.”
Post the LeBron, D-Wade and considering what occurred with Chis Bosh’s health. In my mind, I am beginning to think when the opportunity is big, the Heat dating back to last season has not risen up to the occasion when it comes to a game that can put them in position to make a statement in playoff seeding. Grant it, It is the month of January but the games where they control their fate and set themselves up to succeed are all on the chess board.
In the news related to basketball but with higher importance. The tragic death of former NBA player Rasual Butler devastated Spoelstra and forward Udonis Haslem. Butler was drafted by Miami and played three seasons there.
“It’s horrible, horrible news for all of us,” said Spoelstra, who got emotional talking about Butler, who was killed along with his wife in a single-vehicle rollover in Los Angeles. “He’s one of our favorite people that’s come through the organization.”
Haslem is the only player left with the Heat who played with Butler. “Blindsided me,” he said. “I immediately took to Rasual when I got here. Another competitor, guy like myself, fearless.”