Want to know why there's been any hesitation over anointing the Heat the prohibitive favorites to defend their NBA title? Look no further than their loss to the Pacers.
Once again, Miami's inability to rebound and inconsistent defensive effort came roaring to the forefront. Predictably enough, the Heat lost the battle of the boards, 34-25, to an Indy team with a long, lanky front line of Roy Hibbert, David West and Paul George.
But the bigger concern was the Heat's overall defensive ineptitude. They allowed one of the NBA's most inefficient offenses to score 102 points (including 48 in the paint) and shoot well better than 50 percent from the field.
If LeBron James and company can't hold down the paltry Pacers, how can they hope to stand tall against the most offensively efficient teams that stand in their way (i.e. the New York Knicks, the Oklahoma City Thunder)?
Of course, this could all change come playoff time, and probably will. The Heat have shown the ability to flip a switch when the situation demands it.
But such a lackluster approach has landed many an elite team in hot water in years past. Miami would be wise to get its collective house in order before its problems endanger the team's bigger pursuits.