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Miami Heat: Early Season High's and Low's

After starting the season 3-0, the Miami Heat have lost back-to-back games and now possess a 3-2 record heading into Saturday night’s tilt with the Minnesota Timberwolves. There are many things working for this Heat team right now, but there are also an equal number of aspects to the game that the Heat must improve upon if they wish to stay above .500 mark. Let’s take a look at what’s been working through these first five games and which areas need work.
What’s Working
Chris Bosh: Perennial All-Star Chris Bosh is showing the world why the Heat signed him to that massive $118 million dollar contract over the summer. He is earning every penny. The big man is leading the team in points and rebounds, averaging 24.2 and 11, respectively. He is playing off the ball very well and looks strong in the low post. His 3-point shot is still a weapon in his arsenal as well. He is spreading defenses out as he spaces the floor with his versatile game.
Chris Bosh
D-Wade’s Health: The season is still young but Dwyane Wade has started all five games up to this point with no injury setbacks (minus a scare in game 1 when he suffered a minor calf contusion). He has played over 30 minutes in each tilt and has scored in double digits in each outing, averaging 18.6 points on the season. Hopefully things can continue to go smoothly for Wade and his knees.
What Isn’t Working
Consistency From Role Players: Despite solid averages from Miami’s two leading men, guys like Luol Deng, Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole have yet to get it going on a consistent basis. Deng is averaging 13 points a game; Chalmers: 11.6 points; and Cole: a mere 8 points a game. The Heat will need steady scoring contributions from their role players this season if they hope to advance deep into the playoffs. Josh McRoberts is still working his way into the action, as he recovers from offseason toe surgery. McRoberts showed us a bit of spark in Wednesday night’s bout with Charlotte, but is still struggling to find a rhythm. Heat Lifer and long-time team captain Udonis Haslem has yet to even make an appearance thus far in 2014-2015 and veteran Danny Granger has not logged a single minute either. Once the role players get more comfortable in the system and UD, McRoberts, Granger and Birdman get some quality playing time, the Heat are sure to see more contributions on the stat sheets from guys other than Bosh and Wade. Not to mention, everyone will become more familiar with their roles on a team that is still establishing its identity.
Late Game Mental Mistakes: When Houston came to town on Tuesday, the Heat stayed competitive for about 40 minutes. It really wasn’t until about the 8 minute mark in the 4th quarter when the wheels started to fall off. Guys were letting James Harden and Trevor Ariza launch 3 pointers from all over the court. Heat defenders weren’t getting to their spots quickly enough, they were doubling the wrong Rockets and Heat players were getting tangled and confused about defensive assignments in crunch time. Granted, the Houston Rockets are an offensive powerhouse and a damn good team, but Miami is going to have to figure out a way to stop making mental mistakes. They had 19 turnovers in that game versus Houston. As far as Wednesday’s bout night with Charlotte, the Heat were down 11 in the fourth before going on an 8-point run to put the game within 3. Then, the mental mistakes… Wade had a wide open Bosh on the 3-point line to tie things up, but Dwyane’s pass was just a little bit outside and Bosh knocked the ball out of bounds in attempt to reach out for it. Then Kemba Walker hit a dagger of a 3-pointer and that was the ball game.
Defending The Big Men: First it was Dwight Howard who dominated the Heat’s front court down low. Then, big Al Jefferson came to play and exploited those same Heat deficiencies. The Miami Heat have struggled to stop top-caliber centers for years now. It is an area in which the Heat simply can not seem to improve upon. If Miami allows itself to be dominated in the post again and again, it’s going to be a very long season for this “small-ball” team. Look for the front court to improve both offensively and defensively once Haslem, McRoberts and Birdman begin to log significant minutes.
Silver lining? Despite the many inconsistencies facing this Heat team, they still have a better record than Lebron and his Cavs who are 1-3 on the season. Go Heat!
Written by Grant Cohen
Twitter: @GrantCohen

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