The Big 3 are in shambles.
The Miami Heat’s crisis goes much higher up than the Big 3 though.
Beat the Heat, is becoming all too real for Miami fans. A game 3 shellacking led by Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert has put Miami’s championship aspirations into serious question. When Derrick Rose limped off the floor it appeared a free road to the NBA Finals was given to the Heat. Now it looks more like rush hour traffic in Seattle.
On a night where the Heat finally got some secondary scoring, they weren’t able to come close to the Pacers. After the 1st quarter, Miami was outscored by Indiana 77-49.
What’s wrong with the Heat? Well, Pat Riley, you have some explaining to do.
Pat Riley is supposed to be a genius. He’s been more like Stu Jackson and Isaiah Thomas rolled into one since LeBron, Wade and Bosh rolled into town. The Miami Heat are terrible. Their deficiencies have been masked in large part by the most dominant player in the NBA history. Unfortunately for Pat Riley, the King is not Superman.
Most people, including myself, thought that Pat Riley had assembled enough talent to complement his stars. Their core seemed too good and was enough to overcompensate for their glaring weaknesses. The redundancy of 2 ball dominating wing players on the same team wouldn’t matter to an extent where the Miami Heat would be in danger of being knocked out in the 2nd round.
You can throw that gobbledygook down the drain.
Chris Bosh’s injury has shown that the Heat stars should never have been referred to as the Big 2.5. However, his absence in games 2 and 3 has made clear what an awful job Pat Riley has done over the past couple of seasons.
The Swiss Army Knife, Mike Miller, was brought in to be the necessary 4th wheel to smoothen the ride all the way to their championship parade. An aging Shane Battier was signed in the 2011 offseason to provide harassing defence and some scoring pop off the bench. Energy center Joel Anthony was signed to a 5 year, $18 million deal in 2010.
Mike Miller hasn’t been able to find his groove. Battier, a career 38% 3-point shooter, shot 33.9% from beyond the arc this season and was an atrocious 0-6 from downtown in game 3 as he started at small forward. Joel Anthony has been riding the pine to start games lately while sharing time with Ronny Turiaf and Dexter Pittman at the 5.
Mike Miller and Shane Battier were deemed shrewd acquisitions at the time. It just hasn’t worked out for the Heat. Riley has made, what appeared to be, solid signings that haven’t turned out as good as expected.
While Larry Bird the executive of the year has assembled a team without a superstar that is currently handling Riley’s Heat with ease, Pat Riley sits with his slicked back hair and piercing stare, helpless. He is unable to do anything now. The thing is, it’s not like he has done much with his pet project for the last 2 scrutiny filled years either.
Riley has hoped that he could ride his 3 stars to basketball immortality.
The mastermind hasn’t shown up to work though. He has misevaluated his entire roster. The role players have fit in with the Big 3 about as well as a second cousin twice removed fits in at a family Christmas dinner.
Pat Riley hasn’t made the right moves, whatever those moves should have been. I can’t tell you what Pat Riley should have done because I don’t know.
Remember, I’m not the genius. Pat Riley is.
In theory, great minds make great moves. Pat Riley hasn’t done much out of the ordinary. Battier and Miller were moves everybody could get on board with. Mario Chalmers is an average NBA point guard that shoots an above average percentage from the 3-point line.
Over the past 2 years, the Heat have featured Mario Chalmers, Mike Bibby, Carlos Arroyo, Eddie House and Norris Cole as true point guards. Over the past 2 years, the Heat have featured Joel Anthony, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Juwan Howard, Erick Dampier, Jamaal Magloire, Dexter Pittman, Ronny Turiaf and Eddy Curry as true centers.
Not one role player has overachieved for the Miami Heat. Heck, most have underachieved.
Pat Riley deserves some credit for sticking by his inexperienced but talented young head coach in Erik Spoelstra. Of course, Spoelstra hasn’t gotten it done either.
It’s true that because of the salaries of his 3 stars, Pat Riley has had a limited amount of cap space to work with. Even so, the salary cap can’t excuse Riley of his teams’ shortcomings.
The Miami Heat are not done yet. Although, envisioning the Heat team that played in game 3 fighting for a championship is more than a little difficult.
There’s more than enough blame to go around at this point.
But it’s Pat Riley who should be the first person everyone is looking at.
Chris is a writer on Comedic Prose, and he also is the editor of Painting the Black.