With every passing second, minute, hour, day, week, month and year, the Miami Heat are beginning to look, feel and play oh so human. Dwyane Wade looks mortal, Chris Bosh seems overwhelmed (at times) and LeBron James looks more and more like his old Cleveland Cavalier self with every passing game.
We’re in year four of the “Big Three” era in Miami and the great fall is coming — you can feel it. It’s happened to every great dynasty in NBA history — to Larry Bird‘s Celtics, Magic’s Lakers, the “Bad Boy” Pistons…and so on and so on. For the Heat, though, we just don’t know when it’ll come. It could be this year, it could not. That’s part of the beauty.
And after an Eastern Conference Finals Game 1 loss to the Indiana Pacers, many were already reading Heat fans their last rites. They looked old, over their heads and downright like the second best team on the floor — on that night. In Game 1.
But while watching the Heat look nothing like themselves, and appearing helpless against the enigma that is the Indiana Pacers, I was reminded of a similar great. One that at times looks destined for failure but somehow, someway always comes out on top.
You don’t have to be a boxing expert, or even an avid fan to see the underlying similarities.
In Money Mayweather’s last three bouts, he’s looked human in each of them — against Robert Guerrero (May 2013), Saul Alvarez (September 2013) and most recently against Marcos Maidana (May 2014).
In all of those matches, Mayweather conceded — or was outfought — early and, at times, often. But in each of those matches, he recovered. And when it was winning time (late in the rounds), he got the job done. But he’s gotten close to losing with each passing bout — like the Heat.
The thing that they both do great is feel their way into their respective paths — whether it be a fight or a playoff series.
Apart from Miami’s early failure — their loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals — they’ve looked a little less and less unstoppable, if that makes sense. In other words, their dominance has lessened, even when their winning hasn’t.
But the one constant is the fact that they don’t look their best at the beginning of series’. They always look their best at the ends of them, though.
Much like Mayweather does in most of his fights.
In 2012, the Heat were down 2-1 to the Indiana Pacers in the second round. They ended up winning that series 4-2.
In the next round, they were down 3-2 to the Celtics (heading to Boston). Somehow they won that series too, 4-3.
Then, in the 2012 NBA Finals, they were down 1-0 to the OKC Thunder. As we know, they also won that series, 4-1.
In 2013, the Heat were down 1-0 to the Chicago Bulls in the second round. They won that series 4-1.
In last season’s NBA Finals, they were down 3-2 to the San Antonio Spurs. They, again, came back to win the series, 4-3.
What I’m trying to say is that this isn’t the first time the Heat have lost a Game 1 in a series. In fact, it’s happened four times. You know how many times they’ve bounced back to win said series? Four times.
So, yes. The Heat lost Game 1. They’re down 1-0 to the Indiana Pacers. This is a road that the Heat have to cross right now. Game 2 is in Indiana, and, sure, if they lose that game, then we can freak out.
But not now, after one Game 1 loss.
However, just how Twitter freaks out when Mayweather loses an early round or two in one of his matches, it’s only human nature to envision a great one’s failure. We assume ‘this is the one.’ This is when he’ll finally lose. Yet, he is still 46-0.
With that said, I’m not sure the Heat will bounce back, nor am I sure that the Pacers will finish them off. But just as I do when Mayweather fights, I’ll stay quiet and watch. I try not rush to judgment and try to be fair.
I’m not going to sit here and type a death sentence for the Miami Heat. I’ve seen this episode all too often with this team. In each circumstance, they’ve bounced back. Sooner or later they won’t, though. One of these times, it’s going to be the ‘real deal.’ And they’re going to lose. But I’m not sure it’s this time.
Just like Mayweather will eventually lose — and most believe that it’s sooner rather than later — so will the Heat. It could be this series, it could not.
But based on recent history, there’s nothing really for them to worry about.