2012 was a monster year for the Miami Heat.
They not only won the 2012 NBA title and saw their fearless leader hoist the 2012 MVP trophy, but they also started off the 2012-13 season with a 21-8 overall record.
While that's good enough to give them the top spot in the Eastern Conference, their performance thus far has left fans wishing and wanting to see more from their superstar-laden team.
From rebounding to some actual coaching from Erik Spoelstra, there are quite a few things that fans want to see from the Heat in 2013.
Heading into 2013, the Miami Heat rank 29th in the NBA in rebounding with an average of just 38.8 per game.
If that isn't bad enough, the Heat, as a team, were nearly out-rebounded by Nikola Vucevic to the tune of 29 rebounds to just 33.
It's clear that the Heat can't repeat this season if they maintain their lack of intensity on the boards.
The trouble is, the Heat's lack of rebounding isn't necessarily something that they can immediately change. It's actually because they play what experts like to call "small ball."
A lineup with Chris Bosh at the center position is bound to have issues on the boards, and that's where the Heat find themselves.
There are two solutions to this problem. First, the Heat can pursue a free agent like Kenyon Martin to try to bolster their frontcourt. If they aren't interested in that, they absolutely have to go back to having Joel Anthony in the starting lineup at center.
Giving up offensive rebounds is a great way to get beat, and the Heat have certainly been proving that lately.
I guess playing down to the competition exists at every level of basketball.
Oh, and don't forget to look at their matchup with the Orlando Magic that was so close they had to go to overtime.
The point is, the Heat need to assert themselves as the championship-caliber team they are and stop playing like they're in high school.
Playing down to the competition is so 1999, right?
I know a lot of fans fully expect the Heat to turn it on when it matters (i.e., the playoffs). But that's unrealistic, because we've seen the Heat against top-tier teams like the L.A. Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies and New York Knicks, and guess what? They lost to those teams too.
The Heat need to start asserting themselves as the team to beat in the NBA. If they don't, their season will end well before the start of the 2013 NBA Finals.
The Heat's second unit is underwhelming to say the least. And the worst part about it is that they give fans glimmers of hope every once in awhile.
What the Heat need is consistency from their bench players and Mario Chalmers.
If I was the head coach of the Heat, Chalmers would already be on the bench in favor of a lineup with LeBron at the point, but that's probably why I'm not a coach in the NBA.
Anyway, back to my original point. Guys like Shane Battier, Udonis Haslem and Norris Cole need to be more productive on offense. Their lack of efficiency is allowing teams to key in on LeBron, Wade and Bosh, and it's limiting their effectiveness at times.
A productive big man coming off the bench is really what the Heat need, but that's not going to happen anytime soon—unless they give Kenyon Martin a call.
Either way, the Heat aren't going to repeat unless they get consistent bench production. Yeah, that's right Mike Miller and Norris Cole, I'm looking at you two.
LeBron James' pre-2013 stat line (26.3 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 7.0 APG, 1.6 STLPG, PER of 30.00) is pretty astounding.
His level of dominance in 2012, including the beginning of this season, is second to none.
The problem for NBA teams is that LeBron just continues to get better and better, and that's going to be true as 2013 gets moving along.
While I don't expect LeBron to put up triple-double averages for the season, I expect him to get closer than he has before.
His 2009-10 averages of 29.7 points per game, 8.6 assists per game and 7.3 rebounds per game are about the level we'll see out of LeBron during 2013. Not just because he can, but because the Heat actually need him to play at that level if they expect to contend in the Eastern Conference.
Without LeBron and his Hall of Fame-like numbers, the Heat would be struggling to stay above .500 this season.
He's certainly the King of South Beach, and his continued dominance in 2013 will prove that.
Yes, I'm talking to you, Spoelstra.
I know that Spoelstra can't go out on the court and rebound or play defense. But what he can do is actually coach his team.
Night in and night out, Spoelstra stands on the sideline and watches LeBron and company like he's a fan, not a coach.
He isn't creative enough when it comes to the offensive sets the Heat run, and he hasn't found a rotation that works on the defensive side of the ball. Those two problems combined are a major issue for the Heat.
While the players on the court aren't putting together the Heat product that fans expect, their coach isn't helping that much either.
In all honesty, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade do more as a coach and mentor than Spoelstra does.
I'd like to see some creativity out of Spoelstra. If that doesn't happen and the Heat keep losing to lower-level teams, I wouldn't be shocked if "Fire Spoelstra" chatter starts up again.