‘Not 2, Not 3′ Goes From Boast To Worry

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MIAMI – Nothing seems to have much staying power anymore. A season of your favorite TV show might run 13 episodes. Tech gadgets need to re-generate every few months or somebody’s stock price plummets. What was the next big thing tomorrow and a huge deal today morphs into old news even before yesterday arrives.

If that’s the backdrop against which we’re to judge the Miami Heat’s immediate predicament — a dynasty curtailed, should they lose to the Indiana Pacers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals Monday night at AmericanAirlines Arena (8:30 ET, TNT) — then maybe the brevity of this whole thing makes sense.

But seen against the expectations the Heat raised when this group came together 35 months ago, measured by the tremors sent through the league when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all signed as free agents with Miami, a shelf life this potentially short seems startling. Way premature, too, given the smoke and mirrors, the pomp and circumstance that heralded the Big 3’s arrival and James then famously promising multiple championships with his ‘not one, not two, not three …’ line.

After Game 5, on the same night that James talked about his decision to relocate to south Florida — “That’s what I came here for, to be able to compete for a championship each and every year” — he also was candid about the limited help he was getting vs. the Pacers and the need to reach “back to my Cleveland days” in meeting the must-win challenge.

After the Heat’s 91-77 loss in Game 6, the issues were obvious, the criticism fully revved. On TNT, Reggie Miller called them the “Miami Cavaliers.” Steve Kerr said James was getting “zero help.” And Kenny Smith observed that Bosh and Wade were physically and athletically “outmatched.”

These were the supreme talents who were going to bully the rest of the NBA for years to come? The legends-in-making who would chase down Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and other giants for claims on all-time greatness?

At the moment, Wade looks old, Bosh looks overpriced and James, well, he looks lonely. In his most recent public exposure, he sat alone on the postgame podium in Indianapolis after the Game 6 loss, a long way from the lasers-and-anthems of his Miami introduction in July 2010.

“I mean, we can state the obvious: they’re both struggling,” James said, moments after reminding everyone that he believes in his teammates.

Belief comes harder when Wade, his bruised right knee showing no discernible improvement over two months, lingers on the perimeter and shows no explosiveness and lift. And when Bosh, having turned an ankle in the series, looks awkward or absent as a defender and rebounder.

Three seasons ago, in the first season of their grand experiment, the challenge was sorting out their egos and oversized games into a collaboration of trust. Last season, they all figured it out on their way to the championship. This season, the Heat seemed more formidable, its 27-game winning streak as a bit of history and prelude to what, still, they hope is a repeat title.

James again reigns as the NBA’s preeminent performer. But Wade looks to be paying bills coming due from his attack-the-paint, take-the-hits early career. And Bosh, after sitting a chunk of the 2012 playoffs with an abdominal strain, is now missing in plain sight.

“We have to do a good job of getting opportunities for me and Chris to succeed,” Wade said. “Everybody individually wants to play better and we want to play better as a team. We are just going to have to self-will it and we’ll see how we respond as a team.”

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra talked about the adversity of this series strengthening “your brotherhood” and said it was on him to get Wade and Bosh more involved. “I need to find a way to get them in places where they can be really aggressive,” he said.

Write them off at your own peril.

A strong close-out game Monday and renewed vigor against San Antonio in The Finals, along with a summer where Wade could rest, Spoelstra could tinker and Pat Riley could flash his pearly whites and recruiting rings and — voila! — the dynasty is safe again.

Even if it’s not, the Pacers would deserve more credit than the Heat blame. Indiana’s mix of perimeter defense, rebounding size, a budding star (Paul George) already bigger than two of the Heat’s Big 3 and center Roy Hibbert sabotaging Miami paint attempts are anti-venom to the defending champs. Getting beat doesn’t necessarily mean falling apart; Miami is 48-7 since the start of February … and 4-5 against Indiana.

Think that will calm everyone down, as far as end-of-Heat hysteria? Of course not. The team’s fans already hear a clock ticking, the looming scenarios of 2014’s offseason making them edgy. That’s when the three marquee guys have early-termination options.

If that’s not troubling enough, the what-if’s related to all three sticking around could be its own sort of problem. Already, Miami has $86 million committed to 2013-14 salaries, $56.8 million to James, Wade and Bosh. It has about $70 million on the books for a partial roster in 2014-15, even after some possible nips-and-tucks to the current crew.

With a salary cap this season of slightly more than $58 million, a luxury-tax threshold of $70.3 million and the multiplier tax measures in the new CBA squeezing everyone, Miami could be forced into tough decisions.

Each of the Big 3 — Wade at 33, Bosh at 31, James at 30 — would be north of $20 million in individual salary two seasons from now. Chronologically, not so old perhaps but at least for the first two, with legitimate concerns about the bang for their bucks. Particularly at double-tax levels.

It especially gets tricky because the big decisions that summer belong to the players, not the team. That’s when a franchise can end up with the exact opposite results it needs. For instance, the most valuable of them (James) could opt to leave, while those underperforming their contracts might choose to stay.

Underperforming does not even titles. Not two, not three, not four.

“The only thing I care about is that we win a championship this year,” Miami owner Micky Arison told the South Florida Sun Sentinel when asked him about the team’s future — and speculation about it — last week.

“Next year, the only thing I’ll care about is we’ll win a championship next year. And then, after that, I’ll worry about what you’re talking about. July next year, that’s when I’ll start thinking about it.

“I don’t think these guys have a clue what they’re going to do in ’14.”

All due respect — it is, after all, Arison’s money — but anything that falls short of a second straight Larry O’Brien trophy in the next couple weeks will start everyone thinking about it. Pro-active is better than reactive and reactive could fast-track its way hard into 2013.

79 Comments

  1. BullsFanSince5YearsOld says:

    The Big Bullies still have a lot to do. When LeChoke talked smack about “not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven…”, oh its on..goodluck with that.. :)

  2. This is a nice one says:

    RIP ….. Rest Indiana Pacers

  3. Owned says:

    BOOOOOOOMMM…. OWNED!!! I’m sure there will be a lot of Spurs Fans now… Haters… just keep hating… LOL

  4. Cyril says:

    Go Pacers!!!

  5. DoN says:

    Go Pacers! hahahaha Got Owned Baby!!

  6. sbuno says:

    Pacer fans – we should have one game 2 blah blah blah blah
    refs are fixing games blah blah blah
    David stern wants heat to win blah blah blah

    you know what pacer fans? ,never underestimate the small guy .. BOOM

    #GOHEAT

  7. AYEAH ! says:

    SO THE PACERS WIN ? HAHAHA

  8. AYEAH ! says:

    WEW

  9. Leo Estaniel says:

    It took us seven games, but it’s finally done. We are going back to The NBA Finals!!!

    Mr Bosh, just get me the ball. Flash, hang on we’re almost there. And King, just do what you said you’ve always loved to do. Win!

    Let’s go Heat!!!

  10. manii says:

    Miami all the way!! No worries about the game 7. Half-time now, Miami leading by 15, Mike Miller 0 for 3. And guess what, Shane Battier is feeding Miller for his practice 3 pointers!! Wow. That’s the team chemistry (aka Spo’s “Brotherhood”). You are gonna win it all again this year. What a team! Haters?

  11. Miami Heat Fan says:

    let’s all enjoy the game and the BEST team win! :-)

  12. not a kobe fan either says:

    dont worry heat fans, STERN is with you and the REFS are betting on you. you’ll win game 7 for sure.

  13. realize this says:

    Not 1! Not 2! Not 3! Not 4! Not 5! Not 6! But 7 games against the Pacers!
    No Miami fan would have ever said this, but it seems LeBron was referring to this!
    Sometimes a crystal ball is hazy & doesn’t give you a clear picture of the future.

  14. Kal says:

    wow… never thought about how hilariously ironic that “not 2, not 3…” line is if they don’t win again…

    well, i’d rather see the Heat take on the Spurs. so go Heat tonight. but i think LeBron James should go back to Cleveland in ’14… him and Kyrie could do it.

  15. Hamza says:

    The nba has the game riged for Miami to when its plain and simple.every sports commentator has pick Miami to when.a bunch of bs.they want lebron to be the next Jordan.hell he needs to get by kobe first.because kobe is still the greatest player in today’s game.look at his 5championships and accomplishments over his career and he’s still playing at a high level.

  16. blackmamba38 says:

    I still believe that miami will win tonight. Just like last year it went to game 7 against celtics. With all the criticisms they received after losing game 6, probably they will dominate tonight. Go King James!!

  17. Bryan says:

    Miami’s 6th man IS David Stern.

  18. Skolimowski says:

    I’ve told this before and I say it again: this will be a decade of parity, just like the 1970’s. Even though the media in general makes LeBron to be this superhuman force, he’s not Bird, Magic, Jordan, Kobe or Duncan – he’s a great player, but not a legend.

  19. nile says:

    If the Overrated Pacers loss tonight, they will regret it for their entire life because WADE is not 100 % and next year is more tougher for them, Rose is Coming back and im sure the heat will come up strong next season..

    • Adam says:

      Excuses, excuses. Blame game. What’s next, the refs?

    • Loki says:

      Overrated? This team has put in work all season, and wade not 100% how many times are we going to hear that excuse? The bulls were battered to no end and managed to steal a win in that series, The pacers have been without Danny Granger all season and still have had a great season and playoff run.meanwhile Miami has struggled to beat a team half you Miami fanatics expected them to sweep, if anyone has shown they’re overrated, it’s Miami.

  20. Shane says:

    This should be a very interesting Game 7, may the better team win

  21. B-Ball4Life says:

    Heat will definitely bring it in Game 7 look for the threes to drop and Wade & Bosh to step up and help LBJ. Pacers will play well no doubt about that but they will lose that’s for sure. No way the experienced Heat will lose a Game 7 at AA Arena.
    Watch out for the blow out! HEAT REPEAT!!!

  22. Sal says:

    Lets go heat

    Lebron ,wade,bosh.mario,Allen,Shane,Haslem,miller,birdman,cole

    The logic says heat gonna squeeze peacers tonight

    In god willing

  23. the black mamba says:

    lebron will have to carry this team if he wants to even be mentioned next to MJ and Kobe.

  24. W/E says:

    Roy Humphert is gunna mess up tonight, the fine and all the attention he got cost him his sleep so he will be nervous,tired and will play awfull,the other pacers players will be rusty and tired cause of too much partying after game 6, LBJ and his team are way more experienced they are gunna get the win for sure cause they are gunna be ULTRA PREPARED FOR IT, i think Heat will win the game by the third quarter lol, fourth quarter- pacers would be waving the white flag and all the subs will come in and we gunna have a boring game 7.

    • Loki says:

      Nothing is for sure this series

      • Loki says:

        Even being a pacers fan I expected Miami to come in game six off the momentum of game 3. Miami put in work then, but boy was I wrong game 7. My point is nothing is set in stone in this series, speculate all you want but the results are determined by more than just Miami or Indiana but rather how both of them play.

    • Kei says:

      who the hell is Roy Humphert? Are you watching minor league?

  25. HMauFabriccio says:

    Let the HEATsteria live on to the finals!!! Go Heat!

  26. Wade Smock says:

    The only three headed monster I know about is King Giddora, you know from the Godzilla movies. These guys LBJ, CB and DWADE are just like you and me. Just people but with great abilities . Not Gods by any means and being just people leaves them with the same problems as the rest of us. We all have to put in the effort to reach our goals day to day. Have you ever played your best game and the next day built a house from the bricks you just threw up? Yes we all have, those players are just simply people “Great” maybe but people non the less. We all have pain we all get worn down and sore bones, but we normal people are not looked upon as Gods like these players are. Lets remember the effort they have had to put in, from when they were just kids to be

  27. whaaa says:

    bulls have gone fishing steve, so should you.

  28. RaviDD says:

    How bot this: ain’t it fantastic that the Heat is on the verge of a place in the third straight Finals?
    It seems it wasn’t so unrealistic to predict multiple championships. Untill now they are lifting the whole league to a new level.
    All credits to Lebron, worthy as a new leader ala Jordan. Greatings from the Netherlands. (The tiniest BB-country in the world).

    • Adam says:

      Greetings! Jordan never swithced team to play with other superstars to win an NBA ring quickly so please don’t put Lebron at par with him, you are insulting Jordan’s greatness. Let your whole country know…

      • Heat Fan says:

        Jordan would’ve done the same if he were in Cleveland.

      • hipster says:

        The Bulls in the late 80s were basically Cleveland. Why do you think they had such a high draft pick?

        Jordan would have never conspired for years to create a team of SuperFriends so that winning would be easy. It wasn’t in Jordan’s makeup to take the easy way out. He worked hard, dominated on both ends at all times (something James chooses to do only in occasional spurts) and didn’t care if people liked him or not (unlike LeFake).

        Also, Jordan never once flopped. He took the ball and made a basketball play. He didn’t look for officials to bail him out on every play and didn’t whine to officials. Jordan took much harder fouls too. Back in the 80s and 90s basketball was different. Today, people like Bieber are fans and they want to see a polished product. Back in the day, it was a street brawl. You didn’t drive into the lane unless you were prepared to dunk it or take some serious contact. I’m not exaggerating either. This is truth.

        Jordan, Bird, Magic, Wilt, Kobe, Duncan, Russell are all > LeFlop.

        LeFlop may have the physical gifts but he doesn’t have the mental fortitude to be anything other than a great athlete seeking easy rings. Had he stayed in Cleveland and built a winner there, my opinion would be different.

  29. digitioli says:

    It’s all up the the refs to call a fair game without favoritism and let the players decide. We can only hope the NBA realizes that the integrity of the entire league is at stake and that it’s not worth it to cheat the fans and players.

  30. Willy says:

    All season long everyone knew Miami did not have a post up big man inside game. You can beat them inside. Thats what is happening. And with the other players a bit off, injured or whatever, there ya go. 3 / 3. Miami is being forced into a big game of hard hitting. Battier and the shooters can’t shoot their arms are falling off from pounding down low. Unless Miami comes out shooting a ton of 3’s I really don’t see them winning at home. Lebron goes to Cleveland, Bosh back to Toronto, DWade retires after another couple of seasons and people talk of the team that could have been but wasn’t! Oh ya I think Roy is pissed off a little as well. You Go Roy you big Homo!

  31. theholyspectator says:

    it all comes down to this, i found lebrons body language right as the game was winding down and the post game press conference really interesting…he seemed very different..especially the press conference, dude was laughin and chucklin, makin smart comments in a funny way… a very smart leader tho…if you see your captain being this loose and chill after a blowout loss you know its coming in the final game..i really dont think miami will lose tonights game, we have yet to see dwade and bosh bring their A game in this entire series…heck even if they bring their B game thats enough for the heat to win…also interesting how when after game 1 victory dwayne during press conference said “this is gonna be a tough 7 games” ..he knew as well it was gonna go all the way..big shout outs to indy tho for forcing them to a game 7 with their backs up against the wall…but miami heat play their best when they are against the wall..should be an amazing game to watch tonight

    • OKCKD35 says:

      lets see if game 7 is reffed by Miami’s fav official Danny Crawford. If so Pacers have 0 chance……

      • Stop The Hatin says:

        If not the Heat have 0 chance right? Wrong. Stop hating.

      • CC2 says:

        Well, everyone knows Danny Crawford and Marc Davis like the Heat. I hope the game is called evenly. Law of Verticality!

    • Game Time says:

      Does this guy ever right an objective article?

      • Shadowspinner says:

        It is a relatively objective article. In fact it gives Miami more credit than they deserve by saying that they are losing the series rather than the Pacers are winning it.

        6 games down and Indiana has been the better team in 4 of them hands down. In fact, you could make an argument that minute for minute in this series the only game that has been in Miami’s favor was game 3.

        Now this isn’t to say that Miami is playing their very best – they have glaring absences right now. But you have to remember that at the start of the season people laid out the game plan and requirements to beat the Heat. Rebounding, size, physicality and aggressive perimeter defense. There were maybe 5 teams that were felt to possess those qualities and the Pacers were on that list. Surprise, surprise!! The Pacers are a team built to take advantage of Miami’s weaknessess and Miami has had problems with them all season. Acting like Miami can just flip a switch and breeze by the Pacers is ignoring everything we’ve seen this season and in the playoffs so far. Show the Pacers the respect they deserve. They’re a solid team on their way up and they have outplayed Miami so far this series.

        The only question left to answer is can this young, inexperienced team continue to outplay Miami on the road in a game seven?

      • HeatfansinceWade says:

        I’ll answer your Question. No! Miami just blew out the Pacers in game 7 LOL. Now its time for you Haters to hop on the Spurs Bandwagon LOL.

  32. KaplanLBJGF says:

    But don’t forget Miami’s 6th Man will make sure they’ll get to the finals ;).

    • Wade Smock says:

      Do you mean the refs? I am shocked that the refs keep on the stripped shirts. They should all be wearing the home team colors wherever they are at.

  33. Jacie says:

    D-Wade/ Chris Bosh and George Hill/ Lance Stephenson will certainly the X-Factors for their respective teams tomorrow. Hopefully we all get to watch an intense and interesting Game 7!

  34. ok says:

    Again this guy, who hates Miami Heat writes an “objective” article. You should really try harder to conceal your feelings, As(s)chburner

    • nbapacersfan says:

      Oh, I see what you did there with the extra “s”… what are you, 12 y/o?

      BLUE COLLAR / GOLD SWAGGER

    • CC2 says:

      Pacers all the way. I have been a fan of them my whole life and have been waiting for them to get back to the ECF for a long time. Come on Indy!

      • HeatfansinceWade says:

        they made it to the east finals but they will going fishing from there because Miami just blew them out in game 7. LMAO Pacers fans now you can go back to the teams you supported or you can hop on the Spurs bandwagon. Losers!

      • HeatFansDon'tExist says:

        In regard to “HeatfansinceWade”comment, the way you “Heat fans” act just adds to the reasons nobody really like the Heat or its “fanbase.” The fact that you talk about bandwagon fans is hysterical. The Pacers are a great team and took the Heat to 7 games. Why even try to say they’re bad or that they are losers? I’m not a fan of the Spurs, Pacers,or Heat, but you’re damn straight I’ll hop on the Spurs bandwagon for the Finals win or lose. You know why? Because all “Heat fans” are ignorant and I would never want to be a part of that in any way. The 10% of real Heat fans on the other hand, are not ignorant like the other 90% of “Heat fans” that are just bandwagon fans.

  35. Bullsfan says:

    How long has D-Wade’s knee been hurt for?

  36. Phenomena says:

    Is this line ‘Underperforming does not even titles. Not two, not three, not four.’ a typo? Is even supposed to be equal? The whole sentence seems awkward. Thank you.

  37. Underperforming, old, overrated, 1 man on a lonely mission…..
    What else do people want to use as an explanation for this series being tied at 3-3???

    Why not just saying that the Pacers are playing very good Bball and their strategy is working for at least 3 games?

    Of course many fans did expect and predict that Miami will win lots of championships but did they forget that other teams might develop their skills too???

    And by the way, some are talking like the season is over and the Heat did not win the championship. If they win it everybody will forget the series with the Pacers and all the difficulties it brought them.

    So let’s move on and watch game 7 first before we get to any conclusions!

    • chalice says:

      Totally agree. People don’t seem to acknowledge that the Pacers are a GREAT team. I think that the Pacers or Miami could beat the Spurs in the Finals. Pacers are playing very well and if they win, I’m not so sure about Miami crashing and burning but rather Indiania playing great. About DWade, he did miss a lot of layups which is surprising but I figure he’ll be good tonite. May the best team win!

    • chris says:

      Strongly AGREE…everyone should read this…

      am a solid fan of HEAT and James but still need to consider what PACERS do got…

      And yeah, may the best team win… ;)

    • CC2 says:

      Agree. I think we should be talking about what the Pacers have done to beat the Heat 5 of 9 times this year! Naptown!

  38. not a kobe fan either says:

    bosh, birdman and andersen will be eaten alive by hibbert tomorrow.
    so it’ll be up to james and wade to bring their A game MINUS THE FLOP!