The Miami Heat watched their expectations rise after winning the 2012 NBA championship. They knew that unfair scrutiny comes with the territory of being the reigning champs. Never has it been so prevalent as it is right now.
They’re 1-3 so far on their six-game road trip after a 104-97 loss to the Utah Jazz, where both Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade were benched. LeBron James did all he could to rally the Heat, but they would ultimately fall short.
The fact is, Bosh wasn’t rebounding and Wade wasn’t scoring. Coach Erik Spoelstra made the decision to go a different direction instead of continuing to beat a dead horse. No need to read more into that.
Other games on the trip have been a loss to the Indiana Pacers by 10, a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers by two and a dominant 29-point throttling of the Sacramento Kings. They will have a back-to-back against the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers beginning Wednesday.
So why all the panic?
Many forget that the Heat are 24-12, which is good for first in the Southeast Division and first in the Eastern Conference. They are 16-3 at home and 8-9 on the road. In their 2012 title season, they were 28-8 at this point, with a record on the road of 13-6.
Let’s take more of a look at the comparison between the 2011-12 team and this year’s team.
Obviously, the first thing that stands out is the change in the defense. They’ve dropped from a dominant defense to a mediocre one. However, they’ve also become much better on the offensive end.
The “Big Three” themselves haven’t been too far off from last year’s pace. Check out their numbers:
It’s sounds great to say that players give total effort on both ends of the court every night, but it’s not realistic. The Heat are focusing more on the offensive end, while letting their defense suffer a bit.
It’s naive to believe the Heat have the same intensity and desire moving through the regular season that they did during the 2012 playoffs. Every team turns up the focus during playoff time. This aberration is more a function of complacency than anything else.
There’s no reason to panic. This is a different team, with different goals. They are confident that once the playoffs roll around, they’ll be ready to go.
Are they coasting a bit early? Yes. The No. 1 seed is extremely important and while the Heat still hold it, they have to be careful not to sit too far back while the Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics get hot and catch up.
Come back and look at the Heat in April. If these numbers hold up at that point, then there’s a problem. It’s the middle of January – time to take the foot off the panic pedal a bit.
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