Not quite how some who anointed the Heat favorites the East would have expected their first nine games of the season to play out, although this recent loss to the Boston Celtics serves as a snapshot of what has to improve if the Heat want to offer some sense that this season will develop into something other than an anticlimactic prelude to another Lakers-Celtics clash in the finals.
Entering this game, two themes seemed to spring forward with the most consistency:
The Heat cannot handle elite point guards, and they have no one to defend the interior or command a double-team to create opportunities to score in the paint.
Playing the Celtics (which has depth at both positions) both weakness were on full display as illustrated in the first quarter: There goes Rajon Rondo driving down the lane past Carlos Arroyo and dunking the ball for two of his 8 points and game-high 16 assists. Meanwhile, Kevin Garnett, one of those bigs the Heat have had trouble guarding had 16 points and 13 rebounds.
LeBron James had attempted to assert himself early but if you're going to play one-on-one basketball against the Celtics defense you are not going to win. Wade once again struggled against the Celtics defense going 2-12 for just 8 points in the 112-107 loss.
The game was a testament to the importance of team development and cohesiveness, and after blowing a 22-point lead the previous game and getting it handed to them in the game against the Celtics, it certainly looks as though the Heat are not yet ready to challenge the Celtics for the Eastern Conference crown.
Here are just a few observations about the game.