LeBron James said it perfectly to ESPN:
“We’ve had so many lineup changes, so many different guys in and out with injuries that it’s kind of hurt our performance.”
It’s true, the inconsistencies the Miami Heat dealt with the first half of the season seem to be coming back around to bite them in the rear end. Despite a Tuesday night victory over the Boston Celtics, the defending NBA champions have gone through a rough patch, going 3-4 over the last seven games, including a season high three-game losing streak. That three-game skid was all to teams below .500.
Injuries have reeked havoc on the Heat rooster as of late, sidelining Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier and Dwyane Wade all for long periods over the course of the last month. On top of the injuries, head coach Erik Spoelstra has used many different combinations of rotation and starting lineup this season, allowing little time for chemistry to be built. The first 42 games are fine to be used for experimentation, but with January on its way out and the All-Star Break only weeks away, Spoelstra must begin to fine tune his rotation and stick with a starting lineup.
Between the injuries and maintenance program used for Wade, it has been hard for Spoelstra to build consistency and chemistry in his rotation. The next few weeks before the break should be used to get the roster healthy and begin the focusing in on the final stretch. Spoelstra should use the days leading up to the All-Star Weekend to decide on a permanent starting five and a consistent rotation. If this plays out correctly then the team can return from the break healthy and ready to make their push into the playoffs.
James is right; injuries and inconsistency hurt a basketball team. Chemistry between the players and coach only come with time on the court. With the postseason quickly approaching and the possibility of free agency right behind it, the next month or so will be crucial to Miami’s hope of a three-peat. Enough experimentation; it is time for Spoelstra and the Heat to focus in on becoming the fourth franchise in league history to win a third consecutive title.