It was nearly a week and a half ago that the Miami Heat were already being considered one of the biggest busts of all time.
They fell to 1-7 against teams with records above .500 following a 106-95 loss on the road to the Dallas Mavericks and were 9-8 overall, a record that was much different than the 15-2 or 16-1 that most people expected through the first 17 games of the season.
Not only that, but LeBron James bump into Erik Spoelstra displayed some hostility and frustration that was felt by the players and the organization.
Since that loss and a players only meeting held immediately after, the Heat have reeled off five consecutive wins with each win coming by double digits. Their most impressive win was the 118-90 beatdown they gave to the Cleveland Cavaliers, which was LeBron's first return home since leaving the team in July.
Only one of the wins, however, was against a team with a record above .500, and that was the Atlanta Hawks, who were playing without All-Star Joe Johnson.
Nevertheless, the Heat have utilized this easy stretch to their advantage, as the wins have given them a boost of confidence while allowing the team to build up a chemistry that had been absent for the first half of the season thus far. Rather than the team taking errant jump shots, they are attacking, drawing fouls and creating a more fluent offensive system that the team can actually depend on.
Even with the current five-win streak giving the team confidence and a 14-8 start, the Heat still haven't beaten a team an elite team at full strength aside from their 96-70 win over the Orlando Magic early in the season and are yet to be seen as championship contenders until otherwise. With games against Utah, New Orleans, Dallas and the Los Angeles Lakers on tap over the next few weeks, the Heat get ample opportunities to prove themselves.
Obviously there are still adjustments this Heat team needs to make before it can be considered a contender again. A number of problems have been prevalent over the course of the season so far, and they need to be extinguished so that the team can begin to adjust to a consistent and permanent lineup, as well as the rotations that need to be tweaked.
14-8 might not be what everyone expected at the beginning of the season, but with the Heat gaining momentum, they can't slip up now and give it away. There are a few tweaks the Heat could do to improve their season, and if Erik Spoelstra wants to keep a job for now, this is what he'll need to execute.