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Heat beat Bucks but not without concerns

12/7/2010

The Heat rolled to their fifth consecutive double-digit victory with their 88-78 win over the Bucks Monday night. But with the Utah Jazz coming up on Wednesday, the Heat better leave these three issues in Milwaukee.

LeBron and Bosh's Passive Play

Opposing defenses have made it a top priority to pack the paint against the Heat and force the Big 3 to beat them from the perimeter. It’s a sound strategy but almost impossible to fully execute against all three. While Dwyane Wade was in full-on attack mode throughout the game on Monday night, LeBron James and Chris Bosh failed to follow suit, playing into the Bucks’ hands.

Twenty of Bosh and James’ 33 total shot attempts came outside the paint and the two stars combined for just four free throws the entire night (their lowest sum of the season). Bosh actually didn’t even get to the line which marks the third time he failed to reach the stripe in a game this season. That’s unacceptable against a foul-happy team like Milwaukee.

Ever since Cleveland, James has fallen in love with his mid-range game and his opponents should consider every fadeaway jumper a victory, regardless if he makes it or not. Credit Bogut for deterring his penetration on multiple occasions, but LeBron will have to show more aggression as the team heads out West.

Chalmers back to his old ways

With his gimpy ankle finally 100 percent, Mario Chalmers worked his way back into the Heat rotation and it looked like he put his disappointing sophomore campaign behind him. But the third-year point guard returned to earth on Monday night, trying to do too much with the ball when he didn’t need to force things.

After recording just one turnover since November 13, Chalmers coughed up the ball four times on Monday night in just 24 minutes of action. The Kansas product turned it over within seconds of entering the game in the first quarter, losing the ball on an ill-advised dribble-drive, and that set the tone for his night. Whether it was catching his own airball after a forced layup on two defenders or retaliating after a hard pick from Andrew Bogut, Chalmers apparently left his composure back in Miami.

Chalmers certainly didn’t instill much confidence heading into their Wednesday match-up against the Deron Williams-led Jazz team. The Miami backup point guard didn’t play in the overtime loss against Utah earlier this season but after tonight’s ugly performance, Spoelstra may be reluctant to give him important minutes again this time around.

Center of attrition

The Heat don’t expect the world from the center position but the dearth of production as of late is mind-boggling. Up until Erick Dampier’s put-back with 41 seconds left in Monday night’s game, the Heat centers had failed to score a point dating all the way back to last Thursday’s game in Cleveland when Joel Anthony hit an early fourth quarter jumper.

All in all, it was 106 scoreless minutes from the five spot.

Since that Anthony jumper in Cleveland, Miami centers Anthony, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Erick Dampier put together what can only be assumed as one of the saddest collections of stat lines in NBA history. Combined, the three missed 10 of their 11 field goal attempts, recorded more personal fouls (18) than rebounds (17), and failed to reach the free throw line in 107 minutes of action.

It’s hard to pinpoint which one of those stats is the most worrisome. But as staggering as the lack of scoring punch may be, it’s the rebounding that should cause the greatest concern. Dampier was brought in to help fill the void after Udonis Haslem got injured but it’s clear that at 35 years old, nailing his feet to the floor wouldn’t make a difference. He collected a respectable five rebounds in 24 minutes but he’s nowhere near the rebounding presence he was in Dallas. He and Ilgauskas have zero springs left but they’ll continue playing the 5 spot as long as they have their stilts.