The Miami Heat‘s very topsy-turvy six-game road trip has seemingly dropped the defending champs out of the conversation for who is the best defensive team in the league. Currently the Heat rank dead last in rebounds and are just eighth in points allowed per game (98.2), which puts them as the eighth best defensive team in the league. Two teams that are ahead of the Heat are under .500 (Charlotte Bobcats, Memphis Grizzlies) which makes their case even worse. All of this poor play begs the question: where has the defensive intensity gone? There could be several key reasons.
The biggest issue has been injuries. Due to the average age of the Heat and the grueling expectations of an NBA regular season, a very strict and rigorous maintenance program has been put into place to keep players healthy enough to make solid contributions in the playoffs. Because of this, the rotations are consistently different on a nightly basis making it difficult to develop true cohesion at times. Communication can be shoddy because of the consistent change, but the overall rewards will be reaped come playoff time.
Another small issue could be just shear lack of motivation. Due to the time of year it is in the NBA season, the Heat typically find themselves coasting throughout long road game stretches. The Heat have given up over 106 points per game over the last five games (going 2-3 in the process) with two of those games included allowing the opponent to score 60-70 points in a half.
Overall, this seems to be an issue of the Heat mentally and physically preparing for the brutal playoff stretch they will have to entire in a few months. Because of this losses could potentially pile up. Thoughts of potentially nabbing the No. 1 seed in the East are slipping by away loss by loss, but for this veteran squad, health and mental focus are the top priority.