5 Troubling Signs from Miami Heat's First Week
The Miami Heat are not off to all that great a start. Well, "great" is a relative term when it comes to the standards we expect from them. And by "the standards we expect from them," we mean them obliterating the basket and leaving the charred, smoldering remains of their opponents in their wake and going 82-0.
The Heat are off to a 2-2 start, and even fell to 1-2 at one point—the first time The Big Three have been below .500 since they started 0-1 in the 2010-11 season.
Sure it's just a week into an 82-game season. And yes, sample size. Oh that sample size. But these are the NBA Champion Miami Heat, where everything is magnified and everything is blown up and everything is scrutinized. Because, sports!
So, what are the five most troubling signs for the Heat thus far? Let's get down in it.
Against the Philadelphia 76ers, the Heat fell into the NBA equivalent of the Sarlacc—that giant sphincter creature that eats Boba Fett at the beginning of Return of the Jedi. The 76ers bludgeoned Miami into a 19-0 run to start the game. And while the Heat were able to eventually recover, the damage was done. The Sarlacc ate them. The 76ers won 114-110.
Sure enough, the Heat just flat-out need to knock off the early-game cobwebs and get with the Clobberin' Time already. Miami is currently ranked 24th in first-quarter points (21.1). And although LeBron James has the power to will them back into games in a single bound, no matter the deficit, it would make things much easier if they just started dropping the anvil from the get-go, especially against opponents like the 76ers.
Lack of Fast-Break Points
Last season the Heat would blow a hole through the NBA stratosphere whenever they'd run a fast break. It was their most devastating weapon. Steal a ball, or get a defensive rebound, and then transition the smithereens out of their opponents' face with a quick-strike dunk on the other end by either LeBron, or Wade (mostly, LeBron).
So far in this young season, however, the Heat haven't been quite as devastating in the fast-break department. Through a week of play, the Heat rank 29th in fast-break points. They're dead last in fast-break efficiency. That's down there with Brooklyn, San Antonio, Indiana, Milwaukee and Toronto, teams typically afflicted with The Suck or The Olds.
Maybe it's because Miami is taking (and making) a boatload of three-pointers. Maybe it's because they're pacing themselves. Whatever it is, the Heat will eventually crawl out of the bottom of the league in fast-break points. Hopefully soon, because those monster dunks aren't going to happen by themselves.
Losing the Battle in the Paint
Tallness is not a strength for the Miami Heat. Never has been. Still, you'd think with guys like Chris Bosh, Chris Andersen, Udonis Haslem and even LeBron James, that they'd be much better than they are in the paint.
The Heat are currently ranked 25th in points in the paint. They're ranked 30th in offensive rebounding, and 29th in defensive rebounding. Continuing a somewhat disturbing trend, Bosh seemed to get swallowed whole when up against guys like Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez. And even LeBron has been a tad sluggish when it comes to crashing the boards, and posting dudes up.
No, Greg Oden is not the solution (although it's fun to dream!). Nor is Joel Anthony and his cinder block hands going to fix the problem. The main culprit seems to be energy and your everyday, run-of-the-mill effort. That and Chris Bosh needs to stop vanishing into thin air.
Shane Battier's Struggles
Shane Battier seemed to have picked up right where he left off in the Finals when the Heat opened thing sup against the Chicago Bulls. The Professor went on to torch Chicago with four from beyond the arc.
Since then, however, The Horsetronaut has hit a massive dry spell. In the following two games against the 76ers and Nets, Battier missed nine of his 10 shots, including nine straight from from downtown. When he finally seemingly broke out of his slump against the Washington Wizards on Sunday, the shot was negated on a Heat foul. He then proceeded to go 0-for-4 in that game.
Battier has always been feast or famine from beyond the arc. But with Mike Miller in Memphis, Shane is going to be needed in a big way this season. The only thing left for him to do is to use that Duke education and triangulate the hypotenuse of the trajectory of the basket in relation to his wrist movements and break out of this horrid slump. In laymen's terms: JUST KEEP SHOOTING.
If there's one major sin the Miami Heat have always been guilty of, it's falling into Meh Mode. It's the one thing that ties all the troubling signs together. Call it complacency, call it taking an opponent for granted. Whatever it is, the Heat have a nasty habit of snoozing through early-season games and would really rather not be bothered until June rolls around.
And they know it all too well.
“If you’re in a relationship with a woman for a long time, you start getting comfortable," Dwyane Wade recently told The Miami Herald. "You stop doing the little things that you should do that you did in the beginning. That’s kind of it."
“We’ve been together for a while. We’ve gotten comfortable. We automatically think the guy’s going to be there when he’s not going to be there. We just didn’t communicate as much."
“We’ve been together so long, you start to think maybe you can just go out and make it happen instead of talking through it," LeBron James added.
The Heat need to put on some Al Green and rekindle the Awesome.