The "Big Three" look on in a night that saw Miami lose its third straight game.
This road trip has not been a good vacation for the Miami Heat. Even with the recent struggles, though, Miami still has a very good chance of winning its third straight NBA championship. The Heat are still one of the best teams in the league at home. Their roster has a good bit of experience, and we haven't seen the full potential of the Heat yet due to injuries.
Heat lose 3rd straight game as Washington beats Miami, 114-97. • John Wall: 25 Pts, 9 Ast • LeBron James: 25 Pts, 8 Reb, 7 Ast— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 16, 2014
LeBron on the loss: "This just can't happen, we've got to figure this out. It's a good challenge for us."— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) January 16, 2014
There will most likely be a lot of negative criticism surrounding the Heat because of this losing streak. According to ESPN's John Hollinger in this article, the Heat have a 15.1 percent chance of reaching the NBA Finals. That is lower than two other teams in the East: the Indiana Pacers and Toronto Raptors. These odds are based off of Hollinger's Power Rankings and a computer-generated win-loss projection for the end of the season.
Miami's chances of making the finals are much better than the odds imply, though. The Heat have eight losses on the road, but at home, they have a record of 16-3. Only two teams in the NBA have better records at home than the Heat.
As we saw in last year's playoffs, Miami is not going to lose at home very much. This year's road struggles can be compared to last season's frustration winning road playoff games against Indiana and San Antonio. The Heat found a way to work through that struggle and won the big games when they needed to.
People also can't forget that Miami has been to the NBA Finals three years in a row, winning two of them. This team has the experience to bounce back from a situation like this. In 2012, the Heat lost three in a row from January 10 to January 13, per ESPN Stats and Info's tweet:
Heat have lost back-to-back games (at Knicks, at Nets). They haven't lost 3 straight in more than 2 years. (Jan. 10-13, 2012).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 15, 2014
That same year, Miami won the championship, beating the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The lesson from this three-game losing streak is that things happen. There are going to be hard times in the season, but it's how you respond that determines the outcome. Heck, even take Game 6 from last year's NBA Finals into consideration.
The Heat looked like they would lose that game but found a way to win. James and Chris Bosh both have two championships, and Dwyane Wade has three. The experience on this team will help them get back on track.
Also, it's worth adding that injuries haven't helped this team. Wade has missed nine games this season, and Greg Oden made his season debut Wednesday night. Oden looked solid, scoring six points in eight minutes, including this dunk:
If the Heat can get healthy come playoff time, it will be a different situation. Last year, everyone witnessed what Wade can do healthy, and like James said in this tweet from Miami's Twitter account, anything Oden gives "is a plus":
LeBron on Oden's return: "There's no pressure on him. He's a big body who can block shots and rebound, anything he can give us is a plus."— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) January 16, 2014
Mario Chalmers and Chris Andersen did not play Wednesday night against the Wizards, and two starters were also battling injuries. Wade and Shane Battier started the game despite being on the injury report this week. Wade was able to play 33 minutes, but he only scored eight points. Battier only put up three points in 19 minutes.
This losing streak is definitely newsworthy and should be a bit of a concern for the Heat, but in the long run, there are other factors to consider. If Miami can get healthy, the Heat are certainly a scary matchup for anyone in the playoffs.
This team has the experience, plus the ability to win at home to bounce back from this losing skid and steer the ship in the right direction.