Per Michael Wallace of ESPN, the All-Star shooting guard said: "I think the jury’s still out on this team. But I’m confident in this team. I think when we’re healthy, we’re still one of the best teams in the league and give ourselves a chance to win every night.”
Nobody's sounding the alarm in Miami, but there's certainly more worry than usual.
Wade has shown more frequent flashes of vintage form lately, but head coach Erik Spoelstra still can't rely on him to suit up for every back-to-back set. The same is true of Greg Oden, and the rest of the roster's veterans—like Shane Battier and Ray Allen—are having the worst seasons of their careers.
As a result, the Heat have dropped six of their past nine games and haven't made up much ground on the similarly reeling Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference.
And before anybody points out how the Heat go through a rough patch every year, remember that at this time last season Miami was celebrating its 24th consecutive victory. Things have clearly changed since last year.
Per Wallace, it's not hard to understand why:
There was a time earlier this season when James expressed frustration with the team’s constant rotation shuffling. Now, as coach Erik Spoelstra looks to manage rest for some veterans while also trying to build some semblance of momentum, those previous issues have resurfaced. ... In essence, Miami is juggling big-picture playoff perspective with the desire to develop some urgency and rhythm over the final weeks of the regular season.
The Heat are trying to achieve two things at once: getting healthy for the stretch run and winning games in the process. Focusing on the former makes the latter much more difficult.
Per Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel, Chris Bosh believes the constant rotation shuffling designed to rest key players is hurting the Heat's rhythm: "We aren't used to playing so unstable. I think we are trying to figure it out, what our style is, what our consistent plays are. We are in this grey area right now. We need to pick it up."
Battier echoed Bosh's continuity concerns, via Wallace: "We’re searching for consistency; that’s our issue right now. When we’ve been on, we’ve been very good. And we’ve been inconsistent, we’ve been very beatable. We’re searching for a consistency that will allow us to go to the next level.”
Ultimately, the Heat aren't quite where they were a year ago. But anybody who believes a sluggish couple of weeks in the regular season will stand in the way of the two-time champs hitting their stride when it counts hasn't been paying attention over the past few years.
The Heat will figure things out. After all, they've still got a full two months until they inevitably face the Indiana Pacers in the conference finals. That's more than enough time to get healthy, find some flow and reach peak title-chasing form.
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