After suffering their second consecutive defeat, LeBron James made a comment that teams appear to be anticipating what the Heat are doing on offense. James’ remark is a clear shot at head coach Erik Spoelstra, who is under tremendous pressure these days as the Heat continue to hover around .500.
But the Heat’s troubles can’t all be placed on Spoelstra’s shoulders. Sure, he may be a bit overwhelmed with all the hoopla surrounding his ballclub, but his philosophies fall under the Pat Riley school of basketball. It is, essentially, the same offensive and defensive schemes that earned the Heat an NBA title in 2006.
So, what is ailing the Miami Heat? Here are five reasons:
1) BLAME JAMES: Before LeBron passes the blame to his head coach, he should take a hard look at himself as well because he is much to blame as anyone else in the current state of the Heat. His “decision” to take his “talents to South Beach” instantly created a huge target on the backs of the Miami Heat, and he compounded it by saying he’ll keep on those hate messages in his locker room for motivation. Well, other NBA teams hated the fact that the Heat grabbed all the attention all offseason and were basically crowned champions even before the season started. Each time the Heat take the court, they become the trophy teams are gunning for.
2) BOSH PLAYING SMALL: Chris Bosh, the third member of the so-called Miami Three Kings, is not earning his big salary and is only averaging 6.0 rebounds. Six rebounds! One of my favorite Charles Barkley lines, I have a lot of them, is this: “What do you call a power forward who gets less than eight rebounds? A small forward.” Bosh really needs to step up his game if the Heat will truly contend for an NBA title. At 6-11, he should average at least 10 rebounds a game. I think Bosh is worrying too much about his lack of productivity in terms of his scoring, but what he should be concerned about is his inactivity on the glass. Bosh needs to take notes from Udonis Haslem on how to play the position.
3) WADE HAMSTRUNG: Dwyane Wade’s hamstring injury really set Miami back. LeBron, Bosh and Wade played less than one quarter together during the preseason and the first part of the NBA regular season has become training camp for the trio. Wade seems to over his hamstring injury, except when he plays against the Celtics. He was downright awful in the two games against Boston. The way this Miami team is constructed, Wade and James can’t have bad days. Both of them have to firing on all cylinders for this team to win each night. It will take some time before all three stars will find their rhythm and be able to take advantage of each others’ strengths.
4) CENTER IN PIECES: When you bring in three maximum-salaried players, you’re going to suffer in other places and the Heat are severely lacking in quality big men. Joel Anthony started the season at center, but now he’s been replaced by Zydrunas Ilgauskas. At this stage of Big Z’s career, he’s more of a backup center than anyone else. He can still produce on occasion, but asking him to play heavy minutes may be too much on his aging body. In all of the games the Heat have lost, they were thoroughly outmuscled in the paint. The Heat’s fourth-quarter lineup has included Bosh and Haslem as the bigs, which is woefully small especially against physical teams like Boston and Utah. That is going to be a recurring theme all season if Bosh and the rest of the Miami big men keep getting pushed around.
5) POINT OF NO RETURN: Point guard is another weak spot on the Heat. If Carlos Arroyo is your starting PG, you’re in trouble. Arroyo is another backup masquerading as a starter. And what has happened to Mario Chalmers? If he can’t unseat Arroyo, you have to be concerned about his future. Here’s a quick fix to this problem area: put LeBron at point. By making James the point forward, you’re putting the ball in the hands of your best play-maker and it allows Wade to just be a scorer and puts the other guys in their proper places. When Mike Miller comes off the injured list, the Heat should toy with this idea because the threat of Miller’s outside shooting will open up the court for Wade and James.