Published On: Mon, Jan 10th, 2011

Miami is “Cranking Up the HEAT” in the NBA

By: Pedro Heizer

To say the Miami Heat are “quietly” making noise in the NBA would be an understatement. Miami is making noise alright, but it’s not quiet any longer.

The NBA announced on Monday that HEAT players LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have been named the NBA’s Eastern Conference Co-Players of the Month for December and HEAT Head Coach Erik Spoelstra was named the NBA’s Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for December.

That’s right, Erik Spoelstra is Coach of the Month, and I guess that website firespo.com should be shut down. Coach Spo was given the honor after  guiding the HEAT to a league best 15-1 in the month of December with key wins versus the Cavaliers in LeBron’s return to Cleveland on December 2, two blowouts of the New York Knicks and a Christmas day beat-down of the 2-time Defending World Champions Los Angeles Lakers.

With all the talk as to if the “stars would ever align” in south beach this season, LeBron has done his part in helping D3 with his mission to bring the rings back to Miami. In the month of December LeBron averaged 25.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 6.8 assists and shot 51 percent from the field.

With LeBron by his side to help, Wade went on and averaged 27.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.67 steals while shooting 54.3 percent from the field for the month. Dwyane Wade became only the fourth HEAT player since the 2000-2001 season to average at least 27 points, six rebounds, four assists and shoot 54 percent from the field in a month.

Talks of “Fire Spo” have died down since Miami went on their “revenge tour” in December. HEAT Head Coach Erik Spoelstra has guided the Miami HEAT to an outstanding 15-1 record in the month of December and by doing so earning his second Eastern Conference Coach of the Month award. Spoelstra was also given the honor back in March of 2010, and it’s the 10th time a HEAT coach has won the award.

Spoelstra set a HEAT franchise record in both wins in a month (15) and road wins in a month (going a perfect 10-0). Miami became the first team in NBA history to win 10 straight road games. Spoelstra led Miami to a 8-0 record vs. the Eastern Conference and a 7-1 record vs. the Western Conference.

Spoelstra’s defensive game plan set the tone during the month as the HEAT held opponents to under 100 points in 15 of the 16 games and under 40 percent from the field in six games. Only one opponent shot above 45 percent for the month as the HEAT limited opponents to only 89.0 points per game, 40.2 percent from the field and 29.8 percent from three-point range. Miami capped off the month with a 125-119 road win at Houston, snapping the Rockets’ eight-game home winning streak. With their victory in Los Angeles against the Lakers on Christmas Day, Coach Spoelstra earned his 113th career win, moving him past former HEAT Head Coach Stan Van Gundy and into third place on the HEAT’s all-time win list.

As of right now, Miami sits second in the Eastern Conference only a half game behind the crippled Boston Celtics. Miami is 27-9 and looking to take over the number one spot in the east that they held for all of a day or two. With all the cylinders clicking the right way for Miami, this finally looks like the team that many envisioned in the beginning of the season. Is this the best the HEAT will ever be? No, as Spoelstra said on Saturday “There are a few ‘levels’ of offensive improvement that remain unlocked with this team.” Over the next month, it will be interesting to see just how much this team can improve.

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