Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 4/29/12
MIAMI -- There's a funny ESPN commercial from a few years back in which Miami guard Dwyane Wade keeps a SportsCenter host waiting while he puts together his perfect highlight. With that in mind, it seemed to make sense to ask Wade if he has any clout about what highlights are shown about the Heat. "I don't have no clout," Wade said. Oh, well. If Wade did, he spoke Sunday as if he might want to get a few more Miami defensive moments shown. Everybody knows about the alley-oops, swooping drives to the basket and three-pointers that Wade, LeBron James and some others on the Heat routinely deliver to please fans. But what's their foundation? It's defense. And it sure was on display in Miami's 100-67 rout Saturday of New York in Game 1 of an East first-round series. The Heat forced the Knicks into 27 turnovers, including seven offensive fouls. They picked off 12 steals. They held the Knicks to 35.7 percent shooting. And James outscored all the New York starters combined, 32-30. Naturally, though, most of the Miami highlights shown were from the offensive end. "Fans love the highlight plays," Wade said. "ESPN runs the highlight plays, They don't really show too much of what it takes to get to the highlight plays. But we understand it as a team. So if we want to continue to get those and continue to have our fans enjoy it, we have to work very hard on the defensive end of the floor so we can get out and have fun doing that." Heat president Pat Riley is the architect of the team, and he always has stressed defense. Maybe it wasn't as evident during the 1980s Showtime days of Riley's Lakers, but it sure was during the next two decades with grind-it-out New York and Miami. And just because Riley picked up James and Chris Bosh to join Wade in the summer of 2010 doesn't mean anything has changed. "This is a lunch-pail and a hard-hat team, and I think the perception of us is lost in translation," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. "Teams that play against us understand to have a defense like that you have to do the dirty things, the little things and a lot of the tough things which this team will do." One key reason perimeter stopper Shane Battier said he signed with Miami last December as a free agent was "because of the value they place on defense." And the Heat sure are glad to have Battier around. Battier was a defensive star Saturday. In his 26 minutes, he helped hold New York star forward Carmelo Anthony to 3-of-15 shooting for 11 points. Thats closer to Joel Anthonys seasonal average (3.4) than to Melos (22.6). "Shane is a different beast," Wade said. "Me and LeBron have both have dealt with it playing against him. It's good to see him harass somebody else." Anthony, who admitted being surprised the Heat fronted him so much, doesn't have that luxury. But he vowed Sunday that he and the Knicks will make the necessary adjustments for Monday's Game 2 at AmericanAirlines Arena. "They did everything right, we did everything wrong (Saturday), and we just want to correct that," Anthony said. "I'm very confident Tomorrow's a new day. Tomorrow's Game 2 and it's Round 2." It's not surprising Anthony would make a pugilist reference considering the teams combined Saturday for four individual technicals and Knicks center Tyson Chandler got a flagrant foul for clobbering James with a hard pick. From a basketball standpoint, while the Knicks obviously can shoot better and take better care of the ball, the Heat are pretty sure if they don't relax on defense they'll be OK. Don't expect James, called a man "on a mission" by Knicks coach Mike Woodson, to take it easy. Desperate to win the first title of his nine-year career, James came out in Game 1 as if it were Game 7. He had four of Miami's steals while not even being needed to play the fourth quarter. "We know it starts with defense here," James said. "We want to play it at a high level. It gives us the best chance to win. When we defend and rebound, we're a really good team I take as much pride defensively as I do offensively." Yeah, but just about all those highlights you saw of James in Game 1 were from the offensive end. Even Wade has no power to change that. Chris Tomasson can be reached at christomasson@hotmail.com or Twitter@christomasson
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