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Friday, February 22, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for December: 4. Miami Heat

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of December 31st): 21-8 ,  first place Southeast Division

This Month:

Team Statistics and League Rank (as of December 31st):

  • Points Scored: 103.0 (4th)
  • Points Allowed: 98.2 (18th)
  • Team FG%: .493 (1st)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .442 (12th)
  • Rebounds per game: 38.8 (29th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 41.0 (6th)
  • Turnovers per game: 14.1 (5th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 15.0 (12th)

Individual Statistical Leaders (as of December 31st):

  • Scoring (ppg): Lebron James (26.3)
  • Rebounds per game:   Lebron James (8.4)
  • Minutes per game:  Lebron James (38.2)
  • Assists per game:  Lebron James (7.0)
  • Field Goal Percentage:  Chris Bosh (.549)
  • Steals per game:  Lebron James (1.6)
  • Blocked Shots per game: Chris Bosh (1.2)

Worst Player of the Month: Mike Miller

Here is a perfect example of what many in the sports business consider as "dead weight."  For three straight years, Mike Miller has played 119 of a potential 203 games while just producing under six points per game while his minutes have dropped fro 21.0 per game in his first year to under 14 minutes now.  And he has been doing all of that while earning close to 6$ million per year and is owed another 18$ million for the next three years.   It's obvious that there is no way the Heat can unload such a waste of a mid-level exemption unless they bite the bullet and buyout the 18$ million left on his his contract or hope upon hopes that he decides that he has enough of stealing their money and do the right thing and retire.  Unfortunately, it is doubtful that neither will happen laving both parties to grudgingly accept one another for now.

First Player of the Month: Lebron James

It is rather difficult to find anyone else on the Heat that is worthy of noting as the first of the month, other than Lebron James.  Not only has he led the team in almost every statistical category, but as for the rest of the team, there is not really anyone else worth mentioning.  Sure Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade still continue to perform at the same All Star level producing the same exceptional numbers; however, neither one of them have really set themselves apart from the rest of the team as Lebron James has.  Although upon closer examination this can be refuted, at a quick glance of all the numbers, Lebron James has virtually carried the team on his back; however, one can simply point out that that is just the burden of the man that the team has crowned as their king.  Such a team dynamic gives new meaning to the quote "heavy is the head that wears the crown." 

It is hard to judge the Miami Heat too harshly for their rather complacent attitude and rather lackluster play over the past couple of months since the Heat have little or sense of urgency to really shift into overdrive.  They have no real threats or barriers in their way from loosening their stranglehold on the Eastern Conference, and with no one really standing in their way, the Heat have allowed themselves to slack off a bit in this first stretch of the season.  Both the Indiana Pacers and the Boston Celtics, the two teams that fought hard against the Heat in last season's playoffs, have been less than stellar to say the least.  Indiana has spent the season sputtering past their opponents due to their rather poor offensive production while the Celtics have looked as old and as tired as their aged roster would suggest.  The brand new Brooklyn Nets, despite the depth in their roster,  have proven to be rather underwhelming and unworthy opponent as well as they had struggled through much of December forcing the dismissal of head coach Avery Johnson as a result.

Even the Atlanta Hawks, who currently trail the Heat at second place of the Southeast division are far from being a worthy rival as they trail the Heat by a rather large margin and if they were to meet in the playoffs, would provide little or no competition.  As for the Chicago Bulls, there are hobbled and hollowed out version of their previous selves who earned the league's best record last season and are just barely treading water.  The only real competition that can presumably stand in Miami's way is their one time bitter rival New York Knicks team who have undergone a reawakening and currently trail closely behind in second place in the Eastern Conference.  Nonetheless, there still remain those  cynical on whether or not the Knicks will provide an adequate enough deterrent for the Heat despite losing quite badly in both of their meeting thus far (11/2, 12/6) by an average margin of twenty points.  Altogether there remains no team, at least in the Eastern Conference, that can stand in the Heat's way thus resulting in their rather uninspired play.

Although the Miami Heat only lost five games in December, they were all pretty bad ones as they lost by an average margin of eleven points with three of them being against rather lackluster competition to say the least.  They got shockingly upset by of all teams, the lowly Washington Wizards, who have one of the worst records in the league on the road (12/4/2012).  Afterwards, Miami simply got shamed losing two straight against two Central Division cellar dwellers, the Detroit Pistons by ten (12/28/2012) and unfathomably blown out by the Milwaukee Bucks the following night(12/29/2012).  The worst of all those losses had to be the blowout suffered by the New York Knicks on their own home floor where New York held the Heat to scoring just 92 points and shooting .421 from the field.  That is pretty impressive on New York's side considering that the Hat league the league in field goal percentage shooting close to .500 this season.  

Such humiliating losses are certainly unbecoming of the reigning NBA Champion whose roster consists of three of the best players in their respective positions in Lebron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.  Not to say that they should win every game, but at least play well enough to not be embarrassed by three of the worst teams in the league along with a potential opponent in the Eastern Conference Finals.  Granted, although the Miami Heat did lose badly against teams that they had no business losing to in the Bucks, Wizards, and Pistons, they still manage to win in rather splendid fashion beating all but two teams by ten or more points.  The two exceptions were complete contrasts from one another as the first team was their opponent in last year's NBA Finals, the Oklahoma City Thunder, which resulted in being a hard fought Christmas Day battle of the ages (12/25/2012).  On the flip side, the Heat had to go through an overtime to narrowly beat the lowly Orlando Magic, who do not nearly have the talent or the firepower that Miami has, by only one basket to enter the new year (12/31/2012).

There is no doubt that Miami is by and large, the best team in the NBA, period; however, they are not doing themselves any favors by not playing like it.   So far with the way that this team has player, the Miami Heat seems to lack the sense of urgency or killer instinct seen in the other great NBA championship dynasties in the past.  Instead of completely separating themselves from the rest of the league and playing to their full potential, they remain content with simply staying and status-quo being among the league's elite instead of pounding them down the way they should be.  History will certainly not be kind to the Heat if they continue to stay in neutral allowing themselves to lose focus and lose to undeserving competition as they did in December.  So far the Miami Heat have not lived up to their name as they have not been scorching hot, but have performed lukewarm  at best.