This is the third game out of a small stretch leading into the Christmas game that I called for the Heat. You can see this at this post. The Miami Heat defeated the Utah Jazz 105-89 and although the Heat pulled away setting the tone early in the third, it was a tough fought battle for the most part. The Jazz just wouldn't go away even after being down by almost 20 points at one point in the third, it took passed midway through the fourth quarter before the Heat could truly separate themselves and ultimately rest their stars in the final few minutes.
With a big front line and Miami's Chris Bosh out with a flu, Udonis Haslem started at center making for a front court with Shane Battier and LeBron James.
StatsLeBron started slow and was more aggressive in the second half, finishing with 30 points on 11-20 shooting. This worked out fine as Dwyane Wade was playing well from the start ending up with a triple double like stat-line of 21 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists and was efficient too going 8-14 shooting.
The Heat as a team was efficient once again going 52.1% in Field Goals and 45.8% from three. They also finished with 23 assists for 38 field goals made, a little less than the past 2 games but still on par with where it should be, reflecting the Heats ability to share and move the ball for the right shot. They lost the rebound battle and against a big team this is expected, but the difference was only 4 which is still where they want to be as this is not their strength.
NotableOther players that stepped up were Udonis Haslem, finally starting to make his 15 ft jumper again - still not quite there, but much improved over the last few games. Shane Battier had a good shooting night. Striking early in the 1st, and in the third when the Heat made the initial run that separated the Heat for the night and went for 15 points. Ray Allen also scored some timely three's there in the fourth going for 13 points on 4/5 shooting
So know the Heat are 18-6 heading into the Christmas game, closing in on the Knicks for the top spot in the East, and looking pretty good to match up against the number one team in the league right now, the Oklahoma City Thunder. This puts my call to 3 out of 3 correct the last three games and perhaps its time to consider who will win the Christmas showdown.
The callI'll do this in two parts. Right now there are 2 scenarios I can see playing out that I'll mention here and I'll make a pick a little closer to the game. At this stage we know that OKC at home with that home crowd is going to be LOUD this Christmas and we know the Heat are only currently 5-4 on the road. This will be a big challenge for the Heat and if their ready and bring the right energy from the beginning of the game I can see this as a statement game, winning the game between 8-15 points.
On the flip side though, if the Heat haven't got enough separation from OKC by the last 5 minutes in the fourth, I fear it could be a tough loss for the Heat on the road.
Either way it will be a good one. Merry Christmas to all!