Time to Panic?

Lebron James talks with Coach Erik Spoelstra

The Miami Heat has lost 5 of its last 6 games, and 4 in a row.  In 4 of those losses, the Heat surrendered double digit leads and could not close out the 4th quarter.  It is clear that this team has some serious issues.

Coach Erik Spoelstra has preached all season that this team’s growth is a “process” and it will take time.  The problem is, when you start the season with arguably more hype than any team in the history of sports, there is no time table for greatness.  Its success must be imminent.

Fans are not patient.  They demand results.  This Heat team is not providing what it promised this summer, before the season began.  Yes they have been very good at times, but they have been abysmal against the elite teams in the NBA, falling to 0-6 against Boston and Chicago.  This is alarming for Miami.  They simply cannot finish games.

I wish there was a logical explanation as to why the Heat are losing all of their games in the 4th quarter.  The fact is before this season, Lebron James and Dwyane Wade were among the NBA’s best at closing out games with their ability to drive to the basket.  It makes no sense that with two great wing scorers on the floor, the team struggles to find easy offense late in games.

This can be attributed to an overuse of “hero ball” a term coined to define the isolation style of play that Lebron and Dwyane play at the end of games, relying mostly on their athleticism in one-on-one matchups for success.

It makes sense, that this style would be less effective when playing on the court together, because when teams are defending Lebron in isolation he is more likely to pass to the open shooter when double teamed.  Being that Dwyane is the other wing spacing the floor, the situation turns him into a jump shooter, and therefore less effective considering he is best going to the basket.  The same logic applies when you swap the two.

Another play the Heat go to is the pick and roll with Chris Bosh from the top of the circle.  Miami did this against Chicago, while it led to some easy scoring and some open three-pointers for Mike Miller, he could not convert.  Miller was 0-4 from downtown against the Bulls.  No matter what the Heat decide to do moving forward, it’s obvious that they need to find more efficient ways to score down the stretch of games.

Along with losing comes doubt and criticism.  Most of it directed towards Spoelstra.  As if somehow it’s his fault that Lebron his team continues to break off the play call and force bad shots down the stretch.  Some blame Bosh, claiming he is too soft and needs to play better.  These criticisms are absurd, taking into account that Bosh has probably been Miami’s most consistent player this season especially with getting to the free-throw line.  Last time I checked, it does not seem easy to take hacks at the power forward position.  As for Spo, people will only get off his back if he wins a championship, and even then he will not be given the credit he deserves for dealing with a locker room of egos.

Wade, for as much as he is beloved in Miami and while he is putting up good numbers, has had some of his worst games of his career this season in crucial games.  He has played some games with such inefficiency that he cost his team an opportunity to win.  Yet, because he has brought a championship to Miami he gets immunity from the criticism, and he should.  After all, it was Wade who brought James and Bosh down here.

Ultimately, it will always come down to Lebron.  He is the face of the NBA and his decision is the storyline of the NBA this year.  Say what you want about what he did, but because of what he did, the NBA is more popular today than it ever has been.  I have been watching the NBA for a long time and I do not recall a regular season that was held with as much regard as this one.  Lebron has made the regular season relevant.  He will have to breakthrough at the end of games for this team to take its next step.

With 19 games remaining before the NBA’s second season begins, the Heat have precious time to figure out why they can’t finish games.  Miami has a few more tests coming up against some of the elite teams, so perhaps they can salvage what has quickly turned into a nightmare.

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  • http://www.duranrivera.com Wepz

    Umm- I don’t know how old you are, maybe your young- maybe your as old as me- and I’m not even that old I’m 31. But if you are my age and older shame on you. Shame shame shame..

    Maybe you’ve heard of Michael Jordans Bulls? The Heat are not the biggest thing to ever happen to the NBA. Regular season games have been bigger before. When the Bulls had Jordan, Pippen, and the WORM. They were like the Beatles, it’s been said in and out of the NBA, there were media crushes from 100′s of media from around the world, before the NBA was as international as it is now.

    There were countless commercials about Michael Jordan it was sickening. Everything you can imagine Jordan was on TV promoting. There were refferences to the Bulls everywhere. Dennis Rodman brought another total media frenzy with him dating Madonna, and tabloids were all over the Bulls!

    Besides the bulls, the Showtime Lakers with Magic Johnson was bigger than the Heat. The Lakers dominated ALL television and sports culture. So get off it please.

    I know your a Heat fan and your a LeBron fan but lets get real over here. Don’t hurt your cred. And I’m just being real, I’m not saying this cause I”m a Knicks fan.

  • http://www.duranrivera.com Wepz

    BTW..

    It’s not time to panic. I actually think this is going to make them a better team. If they rise over this hurdle, their genuine emotional investment in the fortunes of their team, if their comradry holds true- they are going to be lethal. They will have passed a test. I actually don’t like all this happening to the Heat cause I think this might make them a fearless team. The worst has happened. So, now when they get rolling again they will prove something to each other and be a tighter unit for it.

  • http://www.duranrivera.com Wepz

    BTW BTW–

    This is what happens when a “big three” believes their own hype. When they have a rock concert introduction like they did. They put a BIG bulls eye on their back. They made a spectacle of themselves. They truly contributed to their hype. and guys like LeBron being an arrogant jerk etc. Truly any and every team in the league circle their calendars when they play the Heat. If they just signed with the Heat and just did things NORMAL, they wouldn’t have this league gunning to beat them like they wanna knock their blocks off the way teams wanna knock the Lakers block off (Lakers hype is justified- rings!).

    Heat have done nothing and they’re strutting around like they won something. That’s why they are experiencing the energy, focus, A games from teams like they won a championship. It’s almost unfair cause they haven’t matured as a championship team- yet they’re experiencing those kinds of challenges.

    Riley should’ve taken a page from Sun Szu’s Art of War. Don’t let them see you coming.

  • Chris Malagon

    If you think the Bulls or Lakers had this type of media circus surrounding them, you are not very perceptive.

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