The Miami Heat have already proven that they are the team to beat in the Eastern Conference this season, but on Monday night LeBron James showed that he and the Heat are on a mission to not only win the East again, but to repeat as NBA champs.
Sure, they were playing one of the worst teams in the NBA – the Charlotte Bobcats – but the Heat still looked impressive in their 99-94 win at home, and James undeniably stole the show as he scored 31 points and drained 13 of 14 field goals, a new personal career-best.
“I didn’t plan it that way, I was just attacking when I could, got into the paint and was able to make some shots,” said James, via ESPN.com.
James hit nine shots within two feet or closer and tied for the third best shooting performance in NBA history with at least 14 attempts in the last 18 years.
Although James led the way, the other two-thirds of the Big Three chimed in as well. Chris Bosh scored 23 points and Dwyane Wade put in a huge effort with 20 points and a season-high 12 rebounds as the Heat improved to 19-3 at home this season.
“I got a lot of my own misses, too. I was missing a lot of chippies, but I was just trying to be aggressive,” said Wade, who tied his career-high with six offensive boards. “When your shots aren’t falling you have to find some way to affect the basketball game and give your team a chance to win.”
The Heat won their ninth game in their last 10 contests and by the end of the night, remained atop the East standings by a half game over the Knicks, who also won against Detroit in the same evening. The victory also kept the Heat atop the futures odds – not just for the East, but for the entire NBA at 19/10 to win the title.
With the way they are playing, there’s little doubt they are the favorites to win the East, but with the bevy of talented teams coming out of the West this season, can they realistically be considered the overall favorite?
Based on records alone, there are three teams better than the Heat at the moment, including the Clippers, the Spurs and the Thunder, but of course, playoff time is a different story. When you have James, Wade and Bosh on your team, it’s hard to bet against you.
However, the Heat will definitely get some serious competition come playoff time and if they do make it to the finals, they’ll have to face a more than formidable opponent. I think 19/10 is a bit too generous for the Heat, even though they looked fantastic in their most recent win.