A simple glance at the Miami Heat’s record would tell you they are having a successful season, currently ranked second in the Eastern Conference and fourth in the NBA at 35-14. What this record doesn’t show you is that this current team is struggling to gain momentum two months removed from what could arguably be their most important playoff run in franchise history.
This season, unlike the last three of the “Big Three” era, has been different. Miami is still ranked dead last in rebounding, that hasn’t changed, but the fact that Miami, this close to the playoffs, is still not even in the top 10 defensively has to be a warning sign. Miami is allowing almost 99 points per game on average, which is ranked 10th in the league.
Compare to last season where they finished 7th in the league, only allowing 93 points per game. The defensive intensity just hasn’t been there this season, and what’s worse, Miami’s offense hasn’t been stellar to compensate for the lack of defense. Even though Miami has the highest shooting mark of any team in the NBA right now, they are only scoring 104 points per game on average (8th in the league) and several starters are having career lows in multiple statistical categories such as Shane Battier and even LeBron James.
The drive, passion and energy just doesn’t seem to be there for the defending champs this season, and that could be a major problem.
Not to add salt to the wound, but Miami has also lost nine of their 14 games to teams well below the .500 mark. This is the biggest indicator of this current Miami Heat team not having the drive right now to compete on a nightly basis. Many would argue that in the playoffs, Miami will only play teams above .500, but because Miami plays in the awful Eastern Conference, half of the top eight are currently below the .500 mark as well.
Miami will have its hands full no matter who the opponent is in the playoffs, simply because the bad habits it has developed throughout this season will come back to haunt it. Miami has lost a majority of its games this season by simple digits because it has had to play catch-up in games where it only exerts itself in the fourth quarter. This is not a recipe for success, and especially not one for winning a third straight title. The competition in the playoffs will be tougher than ever, and Miami needs to correct a lot of the bad habits it has developed this season if it wants to survive.
Jared Doyle is a Miami Heat writer for RantSports.com.
Follow him on Twitter @outofboundsjay, “Like” him on