The Heat’s dismantling at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks in Game 1 started well before the teams ever faced each other on the floor.
The Hawks had taken an insurmountable lead pre-game, thanks to the moves of the rookie with the most to prove for the Heat, coach Erik Spoelstra.
Benching a sizzling Michael Beasley for an injured Udonis Haslem was just the first rookie mistake.
But the biggest and most telling decision that showed Spoelstra may be in over his head was starting James Jones in a move that probably would be suitable for game 13 of the season, not Game 1 in the playoffs.
Jones started one game all season and is often the third or fourth option off the bench. Yet, Spoelstra made the head-scratching move of inserting him in the starting line.
Reminder: These are the playoffs and the Heat are the underdog. Experiments in the playoffs rarely work, if ever.
With a young team that just had its confidence riddled by Hawks’ jump shots and Josh Smith alley-oop dunks, trying new things should be priority No. 11,265 -- just ahead of not getting off the team bus for the game.
Young players like Beasley, Mario Chalmers and Daequan Cook certainly struggled along with star Dwyane Wade, but it’s Spoelstra’s job to keep their young minds focused and into the game.
During too many stretches of the game, the Heat looked unfocused, disinterested and like the 15-67 team from the season before. And Spoelstra looked like a babe in the woods.
But how can Spoelstra tell his young team what the playoffs are all about and what they can expect to experience when this is his first postseason ride?
Memorizing and reciting the quotes from Pat Riley books won’t give Spoelstra the credibility to make his team believe his speeches about playoff intensity and atmosphere.
Spoelstra has hinted that he has some more surprises in store for the line-up, which only further shows his inexperience as a coach.
Expect to see more Jamaal “Big Slow Cat” Magloire on Wednesday, Spoelstra told the Miami Herald.
You mean the back up center not good enough to get in the game during a 26-point blow out in Game 1? So Magloire is supposed to be Spoelstra’s difference maker against an Atlanta frontline so athletic and fast they would give the Dolphins’ DBs fits in the secondary?
Maybe on PlayStation 2. Not in Game 2.
If Spoelstra doesn’t get a grip on playoff basketball soon, fans can expect to see another high-wire act from the Hawks.
But at least Magloire will have a close-up view this time.