Title defense might not be the best way to term what the Miami Heat has done so far this season.
After winning a championship by frequently playing the committed, stifling, score-thwarting style that has been the franchise's trademark in the Pat Riley era, Erik Spoelstra's squad seemed much more engaged on the other end during 2012-13's first three contests.
It's somewhat understandable to get sidetracked, when you have the sort of arsenal that this team does, with the additions of former All-Stars—and perennial 20-point scorers—Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis to a core that includes three current All-Stars.
Simply, no roster in Heat history has been as offensively gifted as this one, as has been evident with the ridiculous statistics it has registered so far: leading the league in points per game (110.0) and field-goal percentage (52.0), not to mention top-four rankings in three-point field-goal percentage and free-throw percentage.
"We can't simply try to outscore teams," Spoelstra said last Saturday, before his team did, 119-116 against Denver.
So, yes they can. For now. In the playoffs, the pace typically slows, and the burden shifts.
Is Miami still capable, in spite of what it has sometimes shown so far, of caring about—and playing—championship-caliber defense?
(All quotes in this piece were collected as part of the writer's duties covering the team, at practice and games.)