While it certainly has been a far cry from the 2007 debacle following up their championship in 2006, this season has seen its fair share of lows from the Miami Heat.
A team that once settled on its lineup and identity has recently tinkered with it again by installing Udonis Haslem to replace Shane Battier.
They have lost to the Washington Wizards, a Carmelo-less New York Knicks team, and have been convincingly beaten by the Grizzlies and Clippers, suggesting that their Christmas Finals rematch against the Oklahoma City Thunder may put a cloud on South Florida's yuletide spirit.
Mario Chalmers has been sub-par this year, to put it lightly, but Miami's depth is so limited at point guard that they can't even bench him.
All in all, it hasn't been the most encouraging first quarter start that fans have been hoping for following an NBA championship.
And, if you were to circle specific areas where the team have shot themselves in the foot, these would be the three:
1. Playing Down to their Opponent
The Miami Heat have proven against quality teams like the Atlanta Hawks and the Brooklyn Nets that they can be a one-half wonder, often arriving as late to their games as their infamous lower-level fan base.
LeBron has acknowledged that it's much easier for teams facing the Heat to give them a good fight than the other way around.
As a result, you often see a dejected team that has trouble fending off bottom-feeder opponents or teams that are simply missing its stars in what was supposed to be a marquee game, such as the case was with the aforementioned Knicks and the San Antonio Spurs.
How does that play out on your TV set, you ask? Well, the Heat usually play the first and second quarter on autopilot, and if they are losing badly enough by halftime, will then psych themselves up in the locker room.
Whether this trend continues remains to be seen.
All I know is that Miami's body language in its more disappointing losses this season resembles the kind you'd expect from someone who lost at billiards because they scratched on the eight ball, as if to say, "enjoy the charity of our folly and indifference." .
2. Not adding size in the off-season
I have two words for you: Andray Blatche.
After signing Ray Allen to it's lower-level exception during the summer, the Heat had an Eddy Curry sized hole in the middle that was waiting to be filled.
Out of their price range were guys like Marcus Camby and perhaps even Kenyon Martin, who currently remains on the free agent market because of his asking cost.
Nevertheless, Blatche was right there this summer and could've been had for the minimum.
Instead, they gave what should have been his slot to Rashard "I can't do the Dougie dance without breaking one of my hips" Lewis.
In a little more than 21 minutes a game, Blatche is averaging 12 points and six rebounds.
Lewis, meanwhile, is averaging five PPG and 1.9 rebounds in 15 minutes of action.
BUT THAT'S NOT ALL!
You know how teams have been shooting Miami off the floor from beyond the arc?
Well, here's why.
Big man X posts up against either Shane Battier, Udonis Haslem, or Chris Bosh. Miami sends a help defender as a result. Big man X swings the ball over to open shooter Y. And then they copy and paste that formula about 20 times a game.
So, in the words of Shakespeare, my only response is this:
wherefore art thou K-Mart?
3. No longer the Road Warriors
Unless you're a real Heat fan, you won't be able to appreciate this reason to its full degree, but remember when the Miami Heat used to be called the road warriors?
Once upon a time, this team couldn't beg to sell out a game at home, and they would often see their arena sprinkled with almost as many opposing fans as its own. Frankly, it was never more evident than in the infamous Heat-Knicks playoff series.
As a result, former coach Pat Riley trained his guys, headlined by team captain Alonzo Mourning, to bask in the enthusiasm of hatred, and silence fan bases all across the road.
And they often did so, leading to an endless number of Atlantic Division titles, year after year.
These days, it's quite a different story.
To date, Miami is 11-2 at home, while their record on the road is 4-4.
Last year, Miami finished 28-5 at home and 18-15 on the road.
In other words, if you were looking for further proof that this team needs an added incentive to bring its best effort, here it is.
Now, of course, it's totally normal for teams to play better at home than on the road.
Furthermore, it's also way too early into the season to take stats like this very seriously.
But if you buy into the theory that the Heat pose their own biggest threat in its hopes of repeating as champions, then keep track of how these red flags unfold in the second quarter of the season.
Lord knows we've seen enough great teams in the past who've duped themselves into believing they could switch their gears on and off at the drop of a hat.
And because they waited too late to right the ship, it eventually drowned.
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