Nobody would have expected them to struggle. I am surprised that they are. But what I am more surprised about is how some are in denial.
There are problems.
Some fans talk about team chemistry. But that is not it. Team chemistry only goes so far. In my view, team chemistry is when the team's system is working; it gives them the extra edge.
Spoelstra keeps preaching about the intangibles. How the team lacks motivation and needs to play with more intensity. But the problems are much more than just psychological.
Obviously there is talent. There should be enough talent for three teams to share in Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, such that center and point guard problems should not be so blatant...but they are. What the heck is going on?
The problem is very multifaceted. There is the problem with depth. There is the problem with injuries.
But right now, I think the three superstars, who will decide the fate of the Heat this year and many more to come, are causing the current problems. They are not giving Miami their money's worth. I see two reasons.
System? What system?
Van Gundy talked about how a team has to figure out how to fit the pieces together for success.
Here is where one of the main problems is: The Miami Heat playbook is essentially three (fragmented) sentences scribbled on a scrap piece of paper.
And perhaps, as a backup plan, "Hope for the best."
Too Many Cooks Spoil the Soup
The three are feared for their ability to do one thing: penetrate off the dribble.
In the game against the Magic, the one and only Jeff Van Gundy spoke wisely about how a basketball team is analogical to a puzzle. And here in Miami are three of the same pieces.
Bosh's ability to hit a mid-range jump shot and return back into his old form has made him a better fit. He is a presence in the low post and I believe, as of now, he is fitting in with James and Wade.
On the other hand, Wade and James don't seem to be working out. Wade produces much less when the other is around.
James loves to play the point guard. Loves it. Ideally, they would have open lanes for Wade to have an easy layup when LeBron is playing point.
However, because their big men (barring Bosh) are mediocre at best, teams clog up the lane with their center. I would settle for a possible Ilgauskas lay-in or long-range jumper over a sure-fire Wade highlight jam.
That is one of the major ways that teams exploit the Heat's weak big men and the point guard, by double-teaming Miami's bigs as much as they can afford to.
This problem is further exacerbated because of the 24-second shot clock. LeBron finding an open D-Wade may take more than half the clock, causing D-Wade to end up going for a contested jumper.
The Heat can sit LeBron or Wade at any point of the game. They have done this quite a few times. While it is a waste to do so, it is the most immediate, effective way to bring out the best of the superstars. Wade-Bosh and James-Bosh proved to work.
This will get a lot of hate but...LeBron could stop being point guard. In my opinion, while LeBron has great vision, Wade is the most effective when he creates with the ball, especially when he has 20 seconds to do so.
LeBron can work on his post game or at least start setting screens. Many teams run double screens and I can see a well-run Bosh and James screen and roll or pick and pop with Wade working since they like a fast-paced game. D-Wade gets a fresh clock to work with; LeBron and Bosh get to their spots.
They need an actual playbook. This would help a lot. With more motion in the offense compared to the stagnant isolation, the lanes would get less clogged. LeBron can assume his favorite position as the point forward and Wade would be able to work with it.
So much for my opinion. At the end of the day, the Heat have three of the best basketball players in the universe; do not count them out just yet.