Miami Herald's Dan Le Batard penned a thoughtful, refreshing and artfully crafted column about uncertainty and the source of the Heat's struggles as of late. An absolute must-read for the NBA fan.
On Monday, I took the plunge and dissected the Heat's 5-13 record in games within five points. Matt Scribbins at Hoopdata takes it a step further and draws a cross-sport comparison to the Green Bay Packers -- a team that prevailed to win the Super Bowl after a regular season plagued with close-game failure: "The tale of the Miami Heat resembles the story about Green Bay. NBA fans can’t stop talking about Miami’s record in close games and declaring them down for the count. Anyone who follows the Association knows they are 5-13 (that's a better winning percentage than Green Bay's 2-6 for those who are counting) in games decided by five points or less. But did you know Miami is 3-1 in games decided by six points? 3-0 in games decided by seven points? How about 4-1 in games decided by eight points? They have also won two overtime games on the road by more than five points. Their record is 38-7 in games decided by six points or more. Those games obviously aren’t as close as a five point game, but you get the idea." Ah, the joys of arbitrary endpoints. Scribbins then sprinkles in some interesting facts about those 13 losses, noting that the Big Three haven't been whole in several of those games.
Are the Heat just plain unlucky? Over at the Basketball-Reference blog, Neil Paine does the dirty work and calculates the probability of the Heat's 5-13 record being a product of pure bad luck. He plugs in the numbers and finds the chances are not good -- just 4.8 percent. His conclusion: "In other words, if our initial hypothesis was that Miami is still a true .500 team who simply suffered a spate of colossally bad luck in close games, we now have enough evidence to reject that hypothesis. The alternate hypothesis -- that the Heat are something less than a true .500 team in close games -- seems far more likely."
Joining the chorus of those who want LeBron James to defer to Dwyane Wade down the stretch, New York Times writer Harvey Araton believes James' game -- however great it may be -- is too scripted: "He is perhaps the league’s best all-around player and the most physically imposing noncenter ever — and one of the most predictable stars to defend in a half-court set at the end of a game. ... His options often are a long jump shot or a mad dash to the rim. Meanwhile, Bryant can beat single coverage anywhere on the offensive end. Boston’s Pierce turns defenders into marionettes with his head and shoulder feints. You could name a dozen N.B.A. stars with more variety and whom you would rather see with the ball within countdown of the final buzzer — including Wade and possibly even Bosh." It's been said of LeBron that even if you know what he's going to do, you can't stop it. Knowing just make you feel better going in. No, LeBron is not a crafty veteran-- and nor should he be given that he possesses unparalleled explosiveness at the age of 26. And from a stylistic standpoint, I see little distinction between LeBron and Wade in one-on-one situations. The results certainly haven't been any different thus far. From ESPN Stats & Information, LeBron is 1-for-7 in potential game-tying or go-ahead field goal attempts in the last 10 seconds of 4th Quarter/OT. Wade? He's 0-for-3.