Biggest Issue Miami Heat Must Solve Before the Start of the Playoffs

Sam RichmondCorrespondent IMarch 26, 2013

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 18: Head Coach Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat gestures late in the fourth quarter against the Boston Celtics on March 18, 2013 at theTD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.  The Heat kept their winning streak going to 24 games in a row, which is the second longest in NBA history.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

As they gear up for the 2012-13 postseason, the Miami Heat don't have many problems. 

How could they?

Miami has won 27 straight games, is 12.5 games ahead of the second-best team in the Eastern Conference and on pace to earn home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. 

The Heat have the best team, a top-15 player and two top-five guys, one of them being the league's very best player.

However, ironically, that success and that talent is responsible for the issue Miami must address most. 

Recently, the Heat have played with a ton of confidence, as they should for all the reasons mentioned previously. But at times that has bordered on arrogance, which has led to some troubling moments during this winning streak.

The Heat have started off some of these games very slow. They haven't given max effort right from the tip, as they seemingly don't mind spotting an opponent a lead because they think no deficit is insurmountable once they flip the on/off switch on.

According to Shandel Richardson of the Sun Sentinel, Miami has been down double digits seven times during the streak. Also, four of those times have occurred in the Heat's last five games.

If these deficits had occurred against quality opponents who have the ability to outplay Miami, that would be one thing.

They've trailed by 11 points in the first quarter to the Charlotte Bobcats, 11 points in the second quarter to the Detroit Pistons and 21 points at halftime to the Cleveland Cavaliers

These are games the Heat could be dominating from start to finish if they wanted to.

The Heat won all of those games; however, they are clearly playing with fire. If the Heat were to play with these early deficits against better teams, the games might not end in Miami's favor. 

It almost cost them against the Boston Celtics. Miami started off flat and was down 15 at one point in the second quarter. It fought back but was still losing with 1:22 remaining in the game, needing a LeBron James jumper with eight seconds left to win the game.

As the Heat prepare for the playoffs, they need to focus on bringing the level of intensity in the first half that they have used to come back in games during the streak.

Miami has outscored its opponents by 2.7 points per game in the first half this season, according to Hoopsstats. In the second half, that point differential climbs to 4.8 in the Heat's favor.

With all of their talent, the Heat have the ability to start beating down their opponents early. Instead of letting the opposition believe it can hang with Miami, the Heat can let them know they simply can't. 

Getting off to a quick start has been the recipe to victory for the Heat.

According to Hoopsstats, when it leads after the first quarter, Miami is 36-4. When the Heat lead at halftime, they are 35-2. On the flip-side, when trailing after one quarter, they are 16-10, and if they are trailing at the half, Miami is 17-9.

This is to say that when the Heat get a lead early, they're nearly impossible to beat.

But when an opponent is able to gain confidence as early as the first quarter, Miami is much more likely to go down.

Sometimes the Heat trail early because the opposition is playing great basketball. That's acceptable. But when the Heat face a deficit because of the dangerous confidence in thinking they can come back regardless of how many points they're down, that's not acceptable.

It hasn't cost them during the streak. If it happens in the postseason against top competition, it will.