When the Miami Heat won their season-high 10th straight game, it seemed like the defending NBA champs were gearing up for another long and impressive streak. The schedule up ahead of them included a four game road trip, but it looked like they wouldn’t be tested until they faced off against the league leading Indiana Pacers.
Miami had to get through a shaky Detroit Pistons team, a crumbling Chicago Bulls squad and a sub .500 Minnesota Timberwolves organization. After a so-so start to the season, things in South Beach had returned to normal until Dwyane Wade missed his fourth and fifth games of the season and the Pistons ended Miami’s two game homestand on a sour note.
It got even worse Thursday night when the Heat rolled over in Chicago and lost 107-87. Now, it seems that this four game road trip will be one filled with pain and loss. With Wade listed as day-to-day as he battles the flu, Miami will face a tough task in Minnesota Saturday night before traveling to Detroit. Both the Pistons and Timberwolves have great size and rebounding big men that will give the defending champs a hard time.
Road trips are never easy for players as they deal with jet lag, long periods of uncomfortable traveling and the occasional homesickness. For Miami, starting the road trip on a two game skid with Wade out only makes it more difficult and complicated to succeed. LeBron James, Chris Bosh and the supporting cast will need to step up over the next few games and especially when they roll into Indiana for a battle between the top two teams of the East.
Wade’s return is unknown as the flu has proven to be a longtime enemy of athletes and the duration of the illness varies. The Heat will need a collective effort from everyone involved to make this road trip a success and to get through the upcoming schedule. Indiana and Miami will face off twice in a four game span, and Wade will need to be at 100 percent in order for the Heat to compete.
If Miami and Erik Spoelstra don’t find a consistent and suitable replacement for Wade or have the All-Star return soon, it could be a tedious period and the longest losing streak of the season for the champions.