NBA Playoffs Postmortem: Miami Heat

With the first round now over, we need to put to rest our fallen brethren. Here lie the Miami Heat, Rest In Peace.

Autopsy Report:

NAME: Heat, Miami

DIED: 4.29.10

AGE: 5 Games

Cause of Death: Complete systemic failure. Structural failure of offensive load capacity. Possible cognitive degradation (Spoelstra lobe).

SUCKAGE: COMPLETE.

Case Summary:Is it any wonder this team was vanquished? Doesn’t it feel foolish to have even though for a heartbeat that Rondo wouldn’t destroy their guards, and that Wade’s attention diverted thus would free Ray Allen? Or that Jermaine O’Neal would really have a good playoff series at this point? Or that the Celtics would give Michael Beasley the one shot he can hit? Or that we would not see the team we’ve feared for so long?

The Heat were overwhelmed in this series. I’d love to give you some sort of deep breakdown of matchups and swing plays or how one philosophy won over another, but really, this was an ass kicking. Kicked them up and down the floor. It was, as Graydon often refers to such series, “A Gentleman’s Sweep.”

Why is it called that?

“Because you give ‘em one. You know, out of a sense of being polite.”

Wade went off, and gave them a shred of dignity, but really, it was abject domination. Perkins didn’t even need to go low on O’Neal. Just shoved him back. O’Neal settled. Didn’t shove back, didn’t battle, didn’t scrap. Just conceded. Meanwhile, the Heat looked like an NCAA team, winging it around the perimeter. There was simply no penetration. The Celtics were everywhere, knew everything. Help, constantly. Double on penetration, triple set on Wade, they were everywhere. When the Celtics are plugged in like that, you have to have great players to force the issue and create stresses. The Heat simply could not do so. They buckled. And in the end, they were revealed as the weakest link in the playoffs.

Obituary: The Heat fooled me. Again. I found myself constantly amazed by their record this year, as every time I would watch them and think “What an abysmal offensive squad.” They lacked any secondary scorer. And you need that secondary scorer to open up the kind of shots their players can make. Quentin Richardson. Mario Chalmers. Carlos Arroyo. Michael Beasley. They’re all spot-up shooters, making an offensive living off the work of the truly gifted. And Jermaine O’Neal was not that weapon. He had good games. But this team was flawed. And I knew it.

But entering the playoffs, I looked at the record. And they have DWade. And Jermaine O’Neal should be able to dominate Kendrick Perkins. And the Celtics have sucked. Okay, I’ll pick an upset here. Miami in 7. D’oh.

And so now the Heat find themselves facing an uncertain future, with no remnants to build around. The mood around Miami is nothing but sunshine and cupcakes. Wade says his heart is in Miami, so he’ll re-sign.  Sure, Beasley may be on his way out, but hey, with all that cap space, how can they go wrong?

Well, for starters, their supporting cast is significantly worse than that of the New Jersey Nets, the worst team in basketball. They Heat do not have Brook Lopez, who has a viable hook shot, low-post moves, and miles and miles of ceiling to climb. They do not have Devin Harris, who bounced back from a significantly bad first half of the season to look very much himself. They do not have Courtney Lee, who for all his faults, is still entering his third year in the league, has experience playing in the Finals and once he develops a bit more will have a complete set of mid-level skills on both sides of the ball. They do not have a guaranteed top 4 pick in an NBA Draft full of potentially great players. They do not have Chris Douglas-Roberts, even, for all his faults. They do not have more cap space. The only reason the Miami Heat are better than the New Jersey Nets is that they have Dwyane Wade, Spoelstra (and he’s not coming off a gem of a series), and Riley, who has not made a brilliant move since…I suppose if you count the trade for Shaq that counts.

But the weather is really nice!

And that’s what it comes down to. You have to appreciate Wade for wanting to re-up. He’s got no reason to be loyal, not in this, the season of basketball capitalism’s apex. But you also have to look at what happened to Garnett and realize that he has an obligation to his legacy to ensure that Riley has the ability to execute the plan before you sign on the dotted line. It’s his priority to convince the help Wade needs to come before Wade can give his assent. But this will likely not be how it goes. Maybe the weather’s enough. Maybe Wade will be enough. But if I’m looking at this team beyond the 1 and 2, I’m seriously concerned about what kind of formula they’ll have for next season.

But hey, 2009-2010 Heat, you’ll always have this. Well, no you, so much. But you were there.

Matt Moore

Matt Moore is a Senior NBA Blogger for CBSSports.com's Eye on Basketball blog, weekend editor of Pro Basketball Talk on NBCSports.com, and co-editor of Voice on the Floor. He lives in Kansas City due to an unbelievably complex set of circumstances and enjoys mid-90's pop rock, long walks on the beach and the novels of Tim Sandlin.