After an impressive six-game winning streak that included Christmas Day's home victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Miami Heat have dropped their last two games in displays of lazy defense against two sub-par teams -- the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks. The only other time Miami lost two straight games came when the Heat suffered an embarrassing loss to the lowly Washington Wizards and then lost by 20 to a Carmelo Anthony-less New York Knicks team.
Miami followed that up with a 8-1 record before last weekend's malaise. Hopefully the Heat will have a similar rebound, and Miami will have a chance to close out 2012 strong with a road game against the Orlando Magic today at 5 p.m. If the team needs added motivation, the Heat are now just percentage points ahead of the Knicks for the first seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Magic have lost five straight games, obscuring a surprisingly solid start for a team in rebuilding mode. Orlando could conceivably make the playoffs, but perhaps tanking the rest of the year would yield better long-term results for the franchise. Whatever the organization's plans, this Heat team should win today. Teams that play hard, defend and rebound can defeat superior teams. It's how the Magic beat the Los Angeles Lakers earlier this month, and how Miami lost to the Pistons and Bucks. Hopefully Miami's two-game losing streak will lead the Heat to play with intensity tonight.