The road trip out West was never going to be easy for the Miami Heat, one of the oldest teams in the NBA. While a 6-3 start isn’t anything to be panicking about, the problems on defense, especially when Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen on the floor, have to be keeping Erik Spoelstra and an excellent LeBron James quite a bit worried.
Wade isn’t completely heatlhy; Ray Allen just isn’t a very good defender. But Wade’s bad ankle has kept him on single digit scoring for the second time in three games. He’s averaging 16.9 points this season, but since missing the game in Atlanta, he’s shooting 13-43 (30.2%) from the field, averaging 11 points. Once again, his slowness on the perimeter, along with Ray Allen, was exposed as the Clippers had no problem hitting open three point shots, finishing with 10-21 from beyond the arc.
The defense was the trademark of Heat basketball, along with the star power that James, Wade and Bosh bring along with them. The Heat are allowing 101 points per game, third worst in the NBA. Their real problem seems to be in the rotation, and from a team that moves at lightning quick speed from trap to cover open guys, they’re allowing teams to hit 39.4% of their three point attempts, with only Toronto and Phoenix doing worse.
LeBron James was enjoying yet another 30 points night, his second in a row, adding 5 rebounds and 7 assists. But he was alone, as Chris Bosh added 11 points while Wade was struggling with only 6. He probably shouldn’t have been playing at all. Rashard Lewis added 11 from the bench and Ray Allen with 14, but no matter what lineup the Heat were using, especially in the second half, the Clippers seemed to have an advantage of speed or talent in every situation.
Time to be worried? Nope. The Heat have good defenders, especially on the inside. Bosh, James, Joel Anthony, Shane Battier. Anthony got only six minutes, but expect him to see a bit more court time if the Heat’s defensive problems continue. It’ll probably allow James or Battier to get a bit more to the outside and cover open shooters, as it seems both Wade and Ray Allen, who’s playing 27 minutes a night and doing very well offensively (12.8 points, 53.5% from the field, 54.1% from beyond the arc) are a liability on defense at the moment.
From what we’ve seen from the Heat these past two seasons, you can’t expect a perfect regular season, even if everyone keeps saying they’re the best team in the NBA. They probably are, when their on top of their game. LeBron James where he should be, and everyone in Miami seems pretty relaxed about the 6-3 start, good enough for 3rd place in the Eastern Conference at the moment.
The Heat always have their bad moments during regular season, often more than once. This time, there’s no panic because there’s a title behind them to show that all of this doesn’t really matter, as long as you make the right adjustments come the right time. Playing Dwyane Wade on a hurt ankle for 30+ minutes a night isn’t the right idea for Spoelstra, who needs to find a way to make his defense play better. There are enough sources to find points from.