Hi, Guys. I know I've been noticeably absent of late, but with soooo much drama surrounding our team, I just had to peek in and see if anyone else is as frustrated as I am with the current state of our Miami Heat. By the way, I'm glad Keebler has been able to step in and help Dave over the last couple of months. Keep up the good work, Guys!
Even with the outcome of last night's contest with the overmatched (on paper, but really: Who isn't overmatched against the Miami Heat on paper?) Detroit Pistons, the Heat are a measly three games above .500-the equivalent to baseball's Mendoza Line for a basketball team. Coach Erik Spoelstra is getting punked publically by newcomer LeBron James. The team is already conducting player-only meetings. There are rumors of infighting among the players, and these guys just don't look right on the court together up until this point. Is the season dangerously close to being irrecoverably lost? Is it too early to press the big red Deal-or-No-Deal-style panic button that undoubtedly sits prominently on the desk in Coach Spo's office?
In my mind, I've already taken the glass cover off that button and pressed it with both hands. And while some may think I'm a little early on this, even the calmest of Heat fans would have to agree that it is at least time to consider doing so. Why you may ask? Think about it this way: Whether you were gung ho about No. 6 "taking his talents to South Beach" as a result of LeDecision or even if you were skeptical of how LeBron James would affect team chemistry (as many of us were), had you been asked to place an over/under bet at 20 games on how soon James would take to pitch a public tantrum, I'm sure you would have taken the over. Even I would have, and I've questioned this guy's character as much as anyone for the better part of two years.
Speaking of 20 games, before the season I made a personal decision not to form an official opinion about this team until at least that many games-roughly a quarter-length portion of the season-had passed. But it's not the now 11-8 record that bothers me. It's not that if the Playoffs were to start today the Heat would not have home court advantage in the First Round due to currently being currently in third place in the Southeast Division and fifth place overall in the Eastern Conference. It's not even the fact that this team has lost several winnable games. Just what is the problem as I see it? I'm glad you asked.
My concern is (as previously stated) not that we have lost so many winnable games, but the ways we have some of those games. Statistically, our guys have looked pretty good. We are scoring just over 100 points per contest, and we hold opposing teams to lower than that. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, however, I got a chance to see our game against the Orlando Magic. In my opinion, that game was a microcosm of the season thus far as a whole. The Magic had a less-than-comfortable lead for most of the game. There was a bunch of isolation and very little movement on offense off the ball. Chris Bosh was settling for too many jump shots and LeBron was taking the ball into the post Charles Barkley-style but was unable to finish. For much of the game, the only guy in a Heat jersey that looked like he still actually knew how to play basketball was Carlos Arroyo. Finally, the fourth quarter came around, and with No. 6 taking a breather (a mere coincidence I'm sure), D-Wade led the team on a run that garnered the lead momentarily. On the first two offensive plays in which Miami was ahead in the fourth, Zydrunas Ilgauskas took consecutive 15-foot jumpers early in the shot clock. I'm not sure why he felt compelled to shoot them under those circumstances, but the ball should have kept moving through Wade and Bosh. Ultimately, the lead faded into deficit. Then LeBron James re-entered the game and began dominating the ball and the Magic finished off the Heat. The roles on this team are not clearly defined, and therein lies the problem.
The other major problem is Dwyane Wade is not stepping up to the responsibility that was incumbent upon him if he, James, and Bosh were to join forces. Wade would have to be the unquestioned leader. That doesn't mean he needs to score the most points or play the most minutes, but it does mean he needs to play the big brother to two of The Association's more pampered stars throughout their careers. When LeBron stepped out of line with Coach Spo on the sideline, D-Wade should have been in his face. Had he chosen to not confront James publically, Wade should have set James straight behind closed doors and then been the voice of the players as a solid PR move with a statement like, "Man, LeBron really wants to win, but he just went about expressing that in the wrong way at the wrong time. He now understands that that's not the way we handle things in the Heat organization, and I'm sure we won't have any problems like this moving forward." Because that didn't happen, I've already pushed my own personal panic button for this team. What about you guys?