Small ball will only take you so far. Right about now the Miami Heat can’t seem to find the forest from the trees.
The Heat’s view of a second straight NBA championship has been currently eclipsed at the moment by the giant obstacle known as the San Antonio Spurs.
It could be a temporary thing or the blocking can last all the way into the offseason. LeBron James don’t have a clue to what is going on no more than he did when his Cleveland Cavaliers team was embarrassingly swept out of the 2007 NBA Finals by Tim Duncan and the Spurs.
With a 3-2 series lead, the Spurs are thwarting just about everything James and his length-deprived Heat squad does.
You might say size matters. James and the Heat have had their way most of the season as they beat up and ran past foes not equipped to stop the bull rush of the four-time league MVP’s regular dash to the basket and the onslaught of 3-ball thrown up routinely from his outside-shooting cast.
That routine have been constantly blurred the last couple of weeks. First, it was the Indiana Pacers and their frontline bruisers making life miserable for James and the Heat with their height advantage in the seven-game Eastern Conference Finals.
Now here come the Spurs and their tree stalks of players effectively dimming the light to the Heat’s bid for another title. And the craziest thing about it is that the Heat know there isn’t a thing they can do about it. Maybe they can.
This is a matchup nightmare for the Heat. It was the same way against the Pacers. And if they had faced any other team from the Western Conference-outside of the Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors-the Heat would be in the same predicament they’re in against the Spurs.
A healthy Kobe Bryant with big men Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol would have crushed the Heat. Zach Randolph and the Memphis Grizzlies would have bullied James and his courtside partners.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook would have made up for their defeat to the Heat a year ago if the dynamic point guard had not suffered a season-ending injury at the start of the playoffs.
I know. Could have, should have is for the birds.
But the point I’m making is that the Heat have some serious deficiencies. When James made his idiotic public statement of going after and winning “not four, not five, not 6, not seven” NBA titles, he basically raised the bounty on his team. James may go on and achieve those goals.
But I doubt it.
The Pacers are a lot younger than the Heat. They are not going anywhere. The New York Knicks will be a threat. Don’t sleep on Atlanta. If Howard and Chris Paul decide to hook up with John Smith, the Hawks will make a lot of noise for years to come.
Then there is always the Boston Celtics. The Celtics would remain a thorn for James and the Heat should coach Doc Rivers stay in Boston.
And we’re not even talking about the talent-laden Western Conference teams. If you really look at the roster of the Heat, James is about the only sure thing on that team for the next several years. The 2013 Heat team sort of resembles the old Cavaliers team James used to play for.
Miami is basically a piecemeal of a team with aging stars Ray Allen, Shane Battier, Mike Miller and Dwayne Wade running on fumes this late in their careers. Chris Andersen has become more personality than productive. Udonis Haslem isn’t what he used to be and is running around on his last legs.
What’s a superstar to do? Well, he had better step up to the plate. But you can’t really fault James. He’s been trying. The problem is that one man can’t beat five. Michael Jordan didn’t win his six championships all by himself.
Jordan had two other Hall of Famers in Scottie Pippin and Dennis Rodman playing alongside of him, not to mention other great players in Horace Grant and Bill Cartwright. Kobe had Shaq. Magic had Kareem Abdul Jabbar and James Worthy.
The Spurs’ Duncan has Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
You might want to add Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard and Gary Neal to the mix now. The Spurs are a combination of the old as well as the new.
They have the savvy veterans to bring along the newer generation of Spurs. And they also have the better coach in Gregg Popovich.
Miami have had their way with opponents all season. The Heat didn’t blink an eye in running roughshod over teams during their 27-game winning streak this season.
It was been going good for Miami up until they went up against the more physical Pacers. Before then the Heat seem to be heads and shoulders above the rest of the league.
That’s not the case anymore. While James and the Heat may go on and two games to win back-to-back titles, doubt of dominance for years to come is already in play. During the last two defeats to the Spurs, James has not looked like a guy often referred to as the “best player on the planet.”
He has looked extremely ordinary. The Spurs’ length has bother James in numerous ways. For one, going to the basket for easy layups and dunks has been a limited option. There haven’t been a whole lot of open looks for James, Wade and the rest of the Heat.
At times the Heat’s half-court game has looked like comedy hour. Both James and Wade, who have been used to having their way against opposing teams, have exhibited looks of confusion and exasperation.
They don’t what to do. They haven’t figured it all out yet. It’s almost as if the Spurs have James’ number.
The Heat had better figure it out in a hurry. Otherwise, James will be on the outside looking in of another NBA title.