A positive step in the Heat's path forward
MIAMI - Coming off their win Friday night against the Bobcats, here's a recipe - already partway completed - for the Heat to get on track and let all be right in their world:
1. Take care of business at home against teams like Charlotte, Toronto and Phoenix (especially when aided by a gimpy Steve Nash) and thus enjoy some easy-to-manufacture team chemistry.
2. Allow Chris Bosh more moments to be the primary scorer, as happened against Toronto and for stretches during the Heat's 95-87 win Friday, thereby making him feel involved and boosting his confidence.
3. Assume and hope Bosh has learned his lesson about saying his coach has to meet them halfway and that LeBron James has learned his lesson about complaining about his minutes. Lock those comments away and never bring them out again.
4. Get some providence in that Dwyane Wade's flu, which hobbled him during the game, allowed LeBron and Bosh to play more off of each other. On Friday, they shared increased on-court chemistry, the kind that will come in handy in the long months ahead.
Then add a key, but hard-to-get ingredient to the mix, something that might just let these good vibes last: win some key games on the road and let the momentum take over.
That means go and beat Memphis on Saturday, win back at home Monday against Indiana and then - most important - take down Orlando on the road Wednesday.
"Let's start with just tomorrow," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "That's my only focus. It's good for us to get out on the road. We finish this home stand at least on a positive note. But now we have to continue to develop our mental toughness."
If they do all that - if they develop toughness, get Wade healthy, keep Bosh playing this well and stop letting big leads wither - the Heat could win out during the next week.
Including at Orlando.
That would make them 11-4.
The result also could mean a newly minted Heat team that more closely resembles what was expected - and just in time for a tougher stretch leading into their first extended road trip of the season.
That need for improvement goes as much for the Big Three amongst themselves as the whole team with its young coach.
As for Friday, there was, in typical fashion, a lot to like and some things to be worried about.
"Call me a glass is-half-full kind of guy, we won, that's most important," Bosh said.
More than half full.
LeBron and Bosh's solid on-court chemistry was among the most promising game moments, a fact more important than the stats each could boast afterward.
For LeBron, that would include 32 points and five assists. For Bosh, it was a 22-point and 14-rebound night in which he was aggressive, confident and in control.
This was also a night in which Wade being stricken with the flu, which had him as questionable before the game, also hindered the Heat. They won anyway.
Also not be overlooked was Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who flirted with a double-double - eight points and nine rebounds - in only 19 minutes.
Heat fans should be comforted to see the big guy, any big guy, making more of an impact.
The bad stuff was clear. Another blown lead. Some poor turnovers in key spots. Not enough of a killer instinct against an opponent that should not be much of a test for the Heat.
But the night's end might have been its most interesting, and another happy note for the Heat: Bosh, while talking to the media, was suddenly interrupted - by LeBron and Wade.
Wade yelled out a joke, Bosh laughed, and for the rest of the question-and-answer session the Big Three mingled at their microphones. Jokes were whispered. They looked like friends.
Which was a first.
When the Big Three left, they finally left together - for at least one night happy, smiling, a group.
Now on to Memphis and, soon enough, a long December road stand that will test this team in new ways - and offer a great chance to put a less-than-spectacular start behind them.
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