As the third game of the NBA Finals reached the fourth quarter, the Miami Heat were up 67-64 and looked to be handling the pressure of a road game against the Dallas Mavericks quite well.
When the clock began to wind down in the fourth, the Heat seized up. Fouls were called and the Heat found themselves looking for the whistle to be blown during their possessions.
What causes this superstar-laden squad to lose their edge in the waning moments? The fact of the matter is, they get away from their game plan.
Dwayne Wade took over as the point guard, and it was very clear that both LeBron James and Chris Bosh deferred to him as the unquestioned leader.
The Mavericks played hungry, intense defense in the final frame, forcing the superstar Heat trio to take rushed shots, limiting their ability to create off the dribble.
Wade was double-teamed outside the arc on several possessions, with the goal to force the ball away from Wade and towards another Miami player.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is a major factor in this inconsistency. Instead of running the offense the same way throughout the game, he goes by feel or gives way to his superstars.
Sometimes, this superstar-focused mentality pays off, like it did when the Heat restored home-court advantage and defeated the Mavericks 88-86 on Sunday night. Other nights, 15 point leads can disappear in a matter of minutes.
The whole Miami superstar experiment has had several interesting chapters. Tonight, we watched as Bosh, James and Wade took over in the final five minutes, while role players seemed to disappear completely.
Time will tell if this change of playing style will pay off with a championship for the Heat in 2011, but it's very difficult to see exactly how this team will support each other throughout the years when touches are so limited in clutch situations. As of today, the team's attitude and morale looks good -- but will it continue?