The Miami Heat are two games ahead of pace in the schedule compared to last season, but the types of losses this veteran squad has endured over the last month is slowly starting to turn heads. The Heat were one of the worst defensive teams in the month of January, and have lost a majority of their games this season against teams well under .500. What makes this even more alarming is that the Heat have played the easier end of their 82-game schedule, and are looking at a very tough road ahead to finish out the season.
The Heat have only played 10 teams this season with winning records, and are 7-3 in these games. The Heat typically get up for their competition, so this is no surprise. However, the their final 40 games of the season will offer up a lot more challengers than the first 42. Of these 40 games, 22 will come against teams with .500 records or higher, which will make for a very interesting stretch run considering this time last season was when the Heat went on their miraculous 27-game winning streak. Unfortunately for the Heat, the schedule was a little more forgiving last season, which made the winning streak a little more manageable.
Also take into consideration that even though the Heat are typically successful against teams from the Western Conference, the defending champs still have multiple matchups with title contenders such as the Houston Rockets, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the San Antonio Spurs coming up on their schedule.
With nagging injuries and sheer lack of motivation being major issues at the moment, it will be interesting to see how the defending champs respond in the face of stiff competition. The road to an NBA Championship will be extremely difficult for Miami this year, more so than any other season before. With the No. 1 seed in the conference not being a major priority, the losses could potentially pile up. If the Heat win their third straight title this season though, they won’t even care.