Friday, March 2, 2012
3-on-3 Preview: Heat at Jazz, 9 ET
In another installment of the Heat Index's 3-on-3 series, our writers give their takes on the storylines before the Heat (28-7) take on the Jazz (16-18).
1. Fact or Fiction: Last night's was LBJ's most impressive game with Miami.
Haberstroh: Fiction. LeBron's line of 38 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, five steals and no turnovers had never been done in an NBA game since at least 1977-78, when turnovers have been tracked. He guarded everyone on the court and never slowed down. Still, I can't crown that game over the 50-plus point performance in Orlando last season. Tough call, but it speaks to the towering heights that LeBron reaches.
Wallace: Fiction. There are a couple of triple-doubles on his Heat resume, as well as a 50-point game or two, that stand out as well. But what LeBron showed in Portland was the complete range of his game. His versatility on both ends of the court was on full display. LeBron confirmed last night what we all knew: He shouldn't be confined by a specific position. He's simply a force.
Windhorst: Fiction. I'm not sure I can award that title for an early March game against a .500 team. He had some great games in the playoffs last year. There was a different challenge for him against the Blazers and he just knocked it out of the park.
2. Fact or Fiction: Udonis Haslem should start tonight.
Haberstroh: Fact. The Jazz frontline is far more physical and bruising than the Blazers' anchors underneath. The Heat could probably get by with LeBron checking Paul Millsap, but it's probably best to play it safe on a back-to-back. For this game, the Heat should call upon Haslem "the Warrior" for the starting gig.
Wallace: Fact. But we all know coach Erik Spoelstra is a stickler for consistency and flow. Haslem has done remarkable work coming off the bench, as evidenced by his double-double last night. Portland is taller and longer up front than Utah, and Spoelstra didn't feel forced to start Udonis in that situation. However, Utah does rebound well, so that just might call for a Haslem promotion.
Windhorst: Fiction. Haslem is most comfortable as a bench player and the Heat have a rotation that is clicking. With the Jazz's size, there's a better chance of Erik Spoelstra starting bigger but it probably won't be Haslem.
3. Fact or Fiction: Erik Spoelstra deserves votes for Coach of the Year.
Haberstroh: Fact. The bar of expectation is higher for Spoelstra than else anyone in the sport. Sure, he was the brains behind the new up-tempo offense but he deserves more recognition for implementing an intimidating defense despite one of the thinnest frontlines in the league. He won't win but he's earning plenty of votes already.
Wallace: Fact. Folks say LeBron is in a no-win situation. That's even more the case for Spoelstra. If the Heat perform well, it's because they have three of the top dozen players in the league. If they perform below expectations, the perception is it's largely the coach's fault. But give credit where credit is due. And Spoelstra's due plenty for the way he's managed Miami this season.
Windhorst: Fiction. At least not first-place votes. Spoelstra has done a nice job of getting his players to follow a preseason plan. They have also been dedicated on defense. But it's hard to give him huge credit because of all the talent he's got. Maybe that's unfair but I know he'd prefer to have the talent than extra credit for crafting 7-10 wins out of an average team that would have people praising his coaching.