If Pat Riley isn't livid right now, he's not paying attention.
The Miami Heat fell below the .500 mark for the first time this season at 9-10, losing their third consecutive game 109-85 to the Milwaukee Bucks to open a road trip that will only get harder. The Bucks took advantage of a Miami defense that is now one of the league's worst, with a plethora of missed rotations and a dearth of rebounds. The Bucks grabbed 43 rebounds -- including 12 on the offensive glass -- to the Heat's 20 total - which set a franchise record for fewest rebounds in a regular season game.
When Milwaukee wasn't connecting on its field goals, Miami simply bailed out the Bucks with fouls. The Bucks entered the bonus with 6:10 left in the third quarter and attempted 13 free throws that quarter. Miami's free-throw attempts then? One.
The Heat even had problems offensively. Miami turned the ball over 18 times, helping to create 24 Milwaukee fast-break points. In one third-quarter sequence, Shabazz Napier had an open layup on a fast-break, but passed behind his back right to Jerryd Bayless. On the other end of the floor, Giannis Antetokounmpo jammed a facial dunk on Bosh. After a strong first quarter in which the Heat scored 30 points, Miami settled for jumpers the rest of the way and never mustered more than 21 points in any subsequent quarter.
With Luol Deng and Norris Cole out, no one helped Bosh and Dwyane Wade offensively. In many ways, Wade was the sole bright point for the Heat, scoring 28 points on 10-of-18 shooting from the field and going 8-for-10 from the foul line. It's the second consecutive time Wade has scored 28. He also dished out eight assists, getting players good looks -- including the only basket for Josh McRoberts, who barely looks at the rim these days.
Bosh, on the other hand, missed two layups in the third, when this game was still close. He took six 3-pointers, only converting on one, and only made three trips to the foul line. Bosh played too far away from the basket on a night an illness limited defensive stalwart Larry Sanders. The 6-foot-11 Heat center also only grabbed six rebounds in 38 minutes.
Miami's next-highest scorer was Mario Chalmers, and he shot 2-of-9. After such a promising start to the season, Miami has regressed into a bad team. The Heat's defense is the worst it's been since Miami tanked -- tried to lose games -- in 2007-08. And this isn't simply about getting Deng and Cole back.
And although the Heat players have shown lackadaisical effort, Erik Spoelstra deserves some of the blame. Some have fairly criticized him over the years for being too haphazard with some players' minutes (remember James Jones)? By anyone's standards, Shawne Williams had turned out to have a promising year thus far. He's apparently gone from a starter to someone who can't even play. Spoelstra threw him in the game in the fourth quarter, reminiscent of his lamentable moves to insert Eddie House in the 2011 NBA Finals and Dexter Pittman in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals.
As I mentioned earlier, Miami's road trip only gets harder. The Heat will go out West to play the Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets next. Miami will play in Memphis at 6 p.m. Sunday. Let's hope it doesn't end too poorly.