Once the Miami Heat hit a stretch of adversity, it’s only natural the masses clamor for changes to come.
While this hardly compares to the 9-8 start and the five-game losing streak the team experienced in their first year together, losing two games in a row to inferior opponents still gives reasons for fans to worry, despite the fact that the Heat were coming off a six-game winning streak that included a win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, as well as the fact that this road trip is occurring during a time where most players would like to be home with their families.
Following their home game against Oklahoma City, the Heat immediately shoved off to Charlotte for a game on the 26th. Needless to say, the team was none too happy with having to travel the day after Christmas.
However, there are no excuses. Even if Will Bynum and Charlie Villanueva decided to have the games of their lives, a little bit of support from the supporting cast and some stronger perimeter defense would have resulted in a Heat victory. Nobody had a career game for the Milwaukee Bucks, but surrendering 21 turnovers while only forcing five isn’t exactly the recipe for success which explains why the Heat ended up losing by 20.
When it came down to it, the losses fall on the supporting cast. LeBron James and Chris Bosh combined for 63 points in a game the Heat scored 99 against Detroit, which was followed up by James, Bosh, and Dwyane Wade combining for 62 points in a game where the team collectively scored 85 against Milwaukee.
That’s two players scoring 64 percent of the points against Detroit and three players scoring 73 percent of the points against Milwaukee. This isn’t nothing new. There have been plenty of instances where the ‘Big Three’ have scored over 90 points while the rest of the team basically gets paid to watch and seldom make a few jumpers.
What the Heat are going through right now are their shooters going through a slump, which is exactly what happens when you become dependent on shooters. No matter how open the shooters get as a result of the influence of the ‘Big Three’, there will still be instances where shots simply don’t fall. Ray Allen has shot 4-of-20 from the field over the past two games, Shane Battier is 3-of-9, and Mario Chalmers has regressed to the mean, shooting 2-of-11.
That’s 9-of-40 shooting from your three best shooters.
And people think Kenyon Martin or Delonte West is somehow going to solve this? I know losses to Detroit and Milwaukee hurt, but let’s tone it down. These are two losses in December that came as a direct result of shooters failing to make their shots. The Heat are shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc for the season and managed 31 percent shooting against Detroit and Milwaukee.
Sometimes the Heat will shoot as they have over the past two games, and sometimes they’ll shoot how they did against Oklahoma City in Game 5.
Kenyon Martin hasn’t been signed yet for a reason and Delonte West wasn’t wanted by the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers–two teams that are desperate for depth at the guard positions. The Heat’s rotation is full as it is, seeing how Rashard Lewis has been pushed to the end of the bench in favor of Joel Anthony’s defense, as well as how far James Jones has fallen out of favor with the acquisition of Ray Allen.
West has been as immature as they come and as gritty as you would assume Kenyon Martin is, he’s also known for his temperament and poor attitude. That doesn’t exactly fit into the Miami Heat dynamic of having 15 players who are always at the ready and refuse to complain about playing time because they know it pays off in the end. Look at guys like Joel Anthony and James Jones as prime examples: both have fallen out of rotation, yet neither complained because they knew their time would come.
Sure enough they got their chances. Those are the types of players you want on your team. As stated before, there’s a reason why 29 other NBA teams want no part of West or Martin, even though West is a solid shooter, ball-handler and defender, and Martin is a rebounder and defender who can shoot out to 15 feet.
There’s still a lot of season to go and we have seen the Heat make mid-season signings in the past in the form of Ronny Turiaf and Erick Dampier.
For now, however, the Heat are 20-8 and near the top of the Eastern Conference. Losses to inferior teams happen to every team and there’s no reason to begin thinking of drastic signings near the end of December. The shooters have been missing their shots and it’s not something that will last from the likes of Ray Allen and Shane Battier because they make it when it truly counts.