In a long NBA season, there always seems to be time to fix things. But the Miami Heat are in the last stretch of this one, with the playoffs looming around the corner. A fifth loss in six games, this time to the pretty bad Denver Nuggets, shows us all there are quite a few problems with the defending NBA champions, maybe even too much to fix in time for the more serious battles.
It’s not new to see the Heat lose on the glass, but to see their offense look disjoined and sorta selfish, while their defense continues to be too slow no matter what the lineup is anymore seems out of place. The Heat have had losing streaks that were worrisome before, including in the first season of the Big three, but it seems that this stretch is something new. Unexpected, and possibly more concerning than anything else we’ve gotten used to seeing.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade both seem unhappy with their offensive involvment. James didn’t take a single shot in the fourth quarter during the loss to the Nets, and went 1-of-4 from the field in the 111-107 loss to the Nuggets, which had the Heat making a furious comeback before falling short. Things that work early on don’t repeat themselves, as it seems the ball movement doesn’t go in James’ direction for some reason, as if there’s some sort of rift between James and Wade camps, although both of them have denied any sort of locker room problem. It would have made sense to think of that option if it was 2011, but three years later, with two titles already won, ego problems are threatning to derail the three-peat chance? Unlikely.
Laziness of the mind and body is one way to look at it. The Heat don’t move as quickly as they should on defense. Too many isolations and quick shots on offense without establishing a play on half court possessions. Simply bad basketball for a team that knows it can’t rely simply on talent. The famous star efficiency is gone. Miami shot 51.9% from the field, but James-Wade-Bosh, scoring a combined 51 points were only 42.5% from the field. Ray Allen had a very good game with 22 points off the bench, and Chris Anderes was excellent in his minutes with 14 points. But the second quarter, and especially when Greg Oden was on the floor (a -15 in five minutes) ruined this game for the Heat, and their unintelligent basketball later on didn’t really help their comeback efforts, which didn’t look so strenuous last season.
Kenneth Faried led the Nuggets with 24 points, but it was the bench that seemed to make most of the difference. Darrell Arthuer with 18 points, 11 from J.J. Hickson andf 14 points from Evan Fournier stood out as the Nuggets kept forcing a pace that looked a bit too high for the Heat, who have more and more games in which they look too old to run with the young bucks, something that seemed like an impossible notion only a year ago.
Erik Spoelstra returned to the usual: We’ll fix this, we’ll be on top of this. There’s still confidence coming out of every mouth, but results showing otherwise. The Heat aren’t as sure about fixing their problems in time for the playoffs, and suddenly what should have been a cruise to the conference finals seems like a much more complicated voyage they’re to embark on.