Miami Heat On and Off Switch Theory

To win their second straight NBA Championship, LeBron James and the Miami Heat need to go on a two-game winning streak.

Two wins and LeBron James has ring number two. Two wins and he will be 2-2 in his trips to the NBA Finals. Two wins and he will have taken down Tim Duncan in attempt number two.

The road to two begins Tuesday.

To avoid getting too weird with the twos, I’ll go ahead and stop there.

There is so much on the line in these game(s)! We could be 48 minutes away from the history books looking like this:

NBA Finals MVPs

2013 Danny Green

2012 LeBron James

2011 Dirk Nowitzki

2010 Kobe Bryant

2009 Kobe Bryant

2008 Paul Pierce

2007 Tony Parker

2006 Dwyane Wade

2005 Tim Duncan

One of these names is not like the other…

But the Miami Heat should be fine. At least for Tuesday night.


The Heat haven’t lost two games in a row since January. Every time they have lost in the 2013 NBA Playoffs, they not only win the next game, they humiliate the opponent and make you wonder how this team ever lost in the first place.

“We like playing with our backs against the wall.”

Eric Spoelstra says it. LeBron says it. Wade says it. From every example we have seen (minus the 2011 NBA Finals), the Heat have proven this mentality works.

The question, then, why wait for all of the drama? Why raise the stakes so high and drop the margin for error so low?  Why the on/off switch? Why not just always on?

First of all, I don’t believe the Miami Heat have an on/off switch. More on that in a second. But let’s say for a second this idea were true. Why are we so surprised by it?

There’s a reason I didn’t start going to the gym until bottom gut roll was jiggling and the scale said 220 lbs of not so muscle. There’s a reason we don’t start the assignment until 11 p.m. the night before it’s due and there’s a reason if a marriage is falling apart, the couple might spend thousands of dollars on therapy sessions to keep it together, but not $40 dollars on a dinner-date two months earlier.

In all of us, we have our dreams, our drive and our destination. The dream: where we want to go, the job, the family, the house, the money. The drive: how hard we’re willing to work to get there. The destination: peace on the inside, the beach scene in the Corona commercials, the sail boat on a postcard, the overall cool of the Dos Equis guy.

The reason an on/off switch happens is because we either forget that dreams can unravel, forget someone else has the same dream and is willing to work harder, and/or forget that destination living requires an expensive airline ticket.

An easy jump to make, then,  is saying, “Well the Miami Heat feel entitled to winning multiple championships but get lazy until they feel the opponent’s drive threatening them. That’s when they flip the switch on, and bam, dreams are in tact, destination celebration on South Beach, trophy in hand, cigars being passed around.”

The flaw in all of this on/off switch logic is that no one magically lands in the NBA, or the top of any profession for that matter, with an on/off lifestyle. The CEO of a company is always on. Usain Bolt doesn’t lounge around for days on a couch. Rick Perry is one of the most successful governors in the United States, but one minute of oops and he will probably never be able to reach the Presidency.

It’s hard to land an entry-level job out of college now, imagine applying for your boss’s job, her boss’s job, so on and so forth. Every step up the ladder the batting average gets higher and higher. The 16-year-old worker at a fast food restaurant can accidentally put mayonnaise on a burger, no big deal, life moves on, but the CEO of that same company better have a minimum of 30 people proofreading every public statement he makes to avoid losing millions of dollars.

When Chris Bosh does something goofy, Tiago Splitter plays like he did in Game 4, or Boris Diaw comes in and you swear his ‘pecs’ are jiggling behind the jersey, the reaction is more “he’s awful” “what a joke” “he sucks” than “wow these guys are still part of the top 0.0000001% of their profession. If LeBron James is the Mark Zuckerberg of basketball, then T-Mac is a guy who sold an App for $50 million ten years ago and is now enjoying his destination life on the beach with enough money to last him five lifetimes.

The Heat and the Spurs are both teams at the absolute top who make very few mistakes. The mistake that neither team makes is going into these games with their drive/desire off. Game 1, San Antonio committed four turnovers. Game 3, they hit 16 threes. Game 5, they shot sixty percent. For the Heat, Game 2 they went on a 33-6 run. Game 4, Wade, LeBron, Bosh combined for 85 points. Cream rises to the top.

The Heat may like playing with their backs against the wall, but they don’t intentionally put themselves into these positions just for the thrill of it all.

The next game, or next two games, is not about ‘who wants it more.’ Everyone wants it. The on/off switch won’t be a mental thing, it will be basketball factors like shooting percentage-can San Antonio go 60 percent again? Can Danny Green continue this unbelievable 3-pt shooting performance? Will role players on either team step up? Turnovers. Rebounding. Free throws. Which coach can make the right adjustment to the other coach’s right adjustment to the other coach’s right adjustment.

These are the two best teams with potentially two games left to decide who will be on top when the stadium lights at the American Airlines Arena finally turn off.

Let the battles begin.