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Troubling defensive trends continue for the Heat as Wade warns of a slippery slope of losing

Let's just say it. The Heat doesn't seem to care right now.

Not even on the first night Greg Oden has played in a regular-season game in four years could the Heat muster the energy or interest to make it respectable. The Heat's 114-97 loss to the Wizards marked the first time the Heat has lost three-straight game in two years. That those three losses came against teams all with losing records tells you everything you need to know about where the Heat is at this point in what is, obviously, the most pointless of regular seasons.

Oh, but there's more proof. So much more...

The Wizards led by 34 points ... IN THE FIRST HALF.

The Wizards had 16 fast-break points ... IN THE FIRST QUARTER.

This after the Nets outscored the Heat 17-2 in second-chance points.

And after the Knicks, you know, won a game.

I wrote in my game story that it felt like the Joel Anthony Memorial Protest Game, but that might be giving too much credit to Anthony. Like LeBron James said after the game, it appears the Heat just isn't mentally engaged in the season anymore.

“It's not physical," James said. "It’s more mental than anything. Whether it’s mental fatigue, or lack of, not confidence, but lack of focus and it’s all trickling down to our play on the floor.

“We’ve got to figure this out, obviously. It’s a good test for us. We love adversity more than anything, and we’re definitely at that point. And my damn voice is gone and I got to try to find it, too.”

Dwyane Wade had eight points, going 4 of 11 from the field and afterwards tweeted that he needed to play better.

"There's nothing else we can do," Wade said. "We don't like to lose but like I said, you've got to catch it before it gets too bad, because it can. You can turn around and be in a seven-game losing streak.

"It's because you're out there, you're pressing too much, stressing too much on every play. You've just got to try to understand, get back and watch the film, learn what you did wrong from the game and try to correct it, correct your wrongs, come into the next one and try to put it behind you."

Of course, Wade doesn't need to study game film for very long to figure out what's wrong with the team.

"They had 43 points in the first quarter," Wade said. "That's remarkable."

Comments

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What the Heat need to do is figure out who is putting a stamp on their overall body language.

The Heat are 8-8 in games M.B. plays significant minutes. They are 11-3 when he doesn't play at all. Rough stats on shots per minute of floor time have M.B. tied with Duane for the most at one shot every 2.2 minutes. LeBron is 2.3, CB is 2.5, Ray is 3.2, Norris is 3.7, and Mario is 4.0. M.B.'s +/- number is very low relative to the rest of the team. And his body language is often "the victim". It was the first thing I noticed about him. I also watched him walk right by LeBron during timeouts without so much as a how-do-you-do. In Brooklyn the other night, LeBron walked away from a broken play looking so much like M.B. that for a moment I thought it was M.B. Is it worth 10 points per game?

^^^ Eyeball? Is that you?

Eyeball,

Halftime thoughts:

"Trevor Ariza for supercool - straight up

UD can still bang with big boys like Nene"

Beasley makes 1 million, Ariza makes 7.7 million. That math doesn't work. Unless we throw in Hasbeen in the deal to make the $$$ work then I'm all for it. But with Birdman's injury. We will need him.

No, that's not me. Just another fan that sees the same thing I do.

Like to see Cole and CB take less 3pt shots.

Wade made something like 4 straight shots in the second quarter, getting into the lane, and then....poof, he was absent the rest of the game.

The Wizards were shooting incredibly last night, especially from distance, but they were getting wide open - uncontested shots. Hell, we made Nene look like Dirk Diggler.

Three game losing streak, and our defense has been pretty bad. Any coincidence that the guy who sets our defense, MARIO CHALMERS, has missed everyone of them? I think not. Can't wait to see RIO back in uniform, bonehead plays and all, we NEED him to play, for us to compete at the highest level.

Oden looked pretty agile getting up and down the court. Fatigued at half and in the third when he went to the bench, YES, but that's expected. Will be real nice to have a healthy Birdman and G.O. on the roster. Still don't think the Pacers are in fear of Oden.

Get healthy RIO!!

Haslem +/- per 36 minutes is -14.7. Beasley's is 1.5. Haslem played 21 minutes. Beasley played 7. Dam, hating makes you irrational. http://www.sportingcharts.com/nba/stats/individual-player-plus-minus-statistics/2013/

To be honest, I am really concerned about this team. Even when they were winning early on, they never looked dominant. I'm not sure whether they're capable of just "turning it on" come playoff time. This team and season just seems different. Honestly guys, can anyone remember the last game that they looked good? I cannot name one game this year where they played well from start to finish.

Mario Chalmers setting our defense?????!!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Stop it, just stop! That is beyond stupid.

LeBron Is right. It is a mental thing. It's a self inflicted emotional wound. It could be a strategy. You only can fall when you're at the top of the mountain. Fall off now, go to a taller mountain and climb to new heights.......NAH......They need to just play better.....Call to GM Riley....Might be time to become secondary coach Riley. I won't overstate Chalmer's defensive contributions but he brings something that this team is clearly lacking.......arrogance, fire ans passion.

Glad Joel is gone.. he really was just eating salary.. not glad we gave up some draft picks just for a team to take him, especially since the Sixers might make the playoffs this year the way the east has been playing..

TOny Douglas, im not too keen on yet, I didnt really like him in NY and I rarely seen him in GOlden state.. but we'll see.. I thought for sure we were going to try to bring in Bynum, but with GO getting some burn, I guess we might not need him.. lets hope the knees hold up and keep cheering the Heat! they need it right now.

BKY - RIO setting our defense was SPO's words, not mine. So, if you want to call SPO stupid, that's on you. I would bet he has worked in the HEAT organization a bit longer than you, and might have some insider information regarding how the defense is run. What did jpejeff say about hatred making people irrational? And, jpejeff, I tried to use the +/- stat before, and apparently that stat isn't allowed on here. I know, I know, seems legit to me. Maybe you can only use it when it benefits your argument - you know, like saying unemployment is down, when there are about 2 million less people employed now then in 2008. That logic seems to fly in the face of the 'economic recovery'. Guess you can make stats say whatever you want, huh?

I do know that the Heat won the last 2 straight championships with UD playing an important role in their rotations, while supercool was playing hide-the-blunt in Phoenix and Minnesota. Just the facts, right?

@Iball2 I feel your pain and I hear ya. Just remember +/- has more meaning when you apply it over the whole season. You used it for 1 game that Miami won. A bad game is not the same as a bad year. I appreciate what Harlem has did,not so much
What he is doing.No politics for me today. I don't blame the Heat struggles on UD. That would be just as crazy as blaming them on Beasley.

I agree with you jpejeff - trends are more valuable info than individual game stats. I think some of us get our panties in a bunch when beas hits a couple of shots in a game - looking only at points scored, and nothing else. And God forbid that we overlook the 'fan attention metric'.

UD is not contributing this year, as he has in the past, say 8 years, but when his name is called, you can bet his mistakes won't be because of selfishness, lack of preparation, or lack of desire. That's probably why he wore the co-captain for years.

Eyeball, I don't understand why you keep bringing up politics in a MIAMI HEAT blog.

Cause I'm frustrated with the direction our country is going, and I'ld like to leave the next generations - my kids and your kids - a better place to live than what I was fortunate to grow up in...and right now, that is looking like a hopeless dream. I don't want to see the sacrifices of the many men and women who gave everything they had to better this country be flushed down the toilet so we can try to emulate some philosophy that NEVER works in real life, but has the backing of teacher's lounges around the country. I don't want leaders elected by low-information voters who can't think past the next CNN soundbite.

I thought I did a good job (for me, anyhow) of not weighing in too much on the team's trip to the White House. (I guess it's the Molado house now). Tried to stay away from it, but let's face it, what happens in DC effects all of us - even the 1%ers that we love to watch on the court that I'm sure the Occupy Wall Steet idiots loathe. Well, they are OK with some one percenters, like Kanye, which makes their message obsolete.

Hey, I also use many different musical references also, is that OK?

You can do whatever you want, it's a free country. I was just curious.

Told ya'll bout the Wizards.

Another Tyson quote "everybody has a plan...till they get punched in the mouth".

Or...how about this one..."the drinking will continue...until morale improves".

Or...I really like this one. "If you are not humble in the world...this world will thrust humbleness upon you".

Good: Where losing streaks are concerned, the Heatles endured 1 x 3-game, 1 x 4-game & even 1 x 5-game streak on their way to the Finals.

Bad: It was 2010 -- when they won nothing. Meanwhile, the Heatles logged nothing longer than 1 x 3-game losing streak over the past 2 x seasons which were, of course, O'Brien seasons.

Good: Heat opponents only converted 49%+/FG% in 16% of all reg season games last season (13/82). The Heat were 10-3 in those games.

Bad: The 2013 Heat have allowed opponents to convert 49%+/FG% in 37% of games to date (14/38). The Heat are 5-9 in those games.

Likewise, Heat opps managed to convert 55+% of 2pt FGs in ONLY 10 x games last season (10/82 = 12%). The 2013 Heat have already allowed 10 games where opps converted 55+% of their 2pt tries (10/38 = 26%).

What does it mean? Nothing yet, with a half-season still to be played. But Heat players know what it could portend: No 3peat.

Next, Rio's absence isn't close to the de facto reason for this latest slide. Not even close. Chalmers has been up-and-down on defense all season -- just like the rest of the team. Plus, Rio was most effective when he had Cole to back him up, & vice versa. Cole alone simply emphasizes Miami's lack of depth at the 1.

Ditto Beas. Much as I'd like to paint a bullseye, the Heat are 7-3 (.700) in games where Beas > 20m. In 15 games where Beas logged < 20m, the Heat are 10-5 (.666). The Heat overall, at 27-11, are playing .710 ball.

However, I *do* see disruptions to sustainable defensive cohesion since this season began. Disruptions which I suspect are largely attributable to player absences/injuries/ongoing recoveries from injuries (excluding Oden).

So to me, getting healthy & staying (relatively) healthy is goal #1.

But blaming injuries or waiting on health is also the bet that never pays off. Championship teams like the Heat know this.

Otherwise, what seems to be missing, glaringly at times, is *oncourt* communication, especially when lineups are unusually in flux like they have this season. Players need to talk when stuff *is* happening, not *after* it's happened. Too many opposing layups or open 3s occur when defenders are picked off (i.e., P/R defense) without warning.

It's the same deal in football & other sports. Or even, yeah, ballet. Whether it's a good team or troupe, with or without superior depth, execution's never the same when 1s go out. Timing, anticipation, instincts all differ. Football-wise, DOG/motion flags aren't unusual on offense; likewise offsides on d. You can still win, but you're not winning (or losing) in the same way. Same diff when starters return. Good teams that feature starter continuity develop something like telepathy to augment execution over time. When 1s leave & return, execution tends to be ragged while telepathy altogether disappears until you rebuild the reps.

That's why telepathy's best friend is communication. Face to face. Oncourt. Especially on d. 5 pairs of eyes are always better than 1. But what good are 5 pairs when 4 aren't sharing what they see WHEN they see it?

Don't agree Eyeball...Oden hasn't played for 4 years - what did you expect ? Your analysis "not the answer" or "Pacers not in fear"...are really shortsighted. Yeah...but keep that bromance with UD & Rio going.

Overall...Heat just can't expect to play like this and expect anything but disappointment. These teams are just attacking the Heat donut in the middle with a vengeance. I doubt they could've beaten anyone in the league these past few games. This habit of falling behind every game before playing well is a recipe for disaster. I'm getting concerned we're looking at the old, aging boxer who looks great at the weigh-in, fights initially like he's turned back the clock...only to age before your eyes & getting knocked out.

Several teams in this league (and the East) are improving & you can't say that about the Heat. (yes Eyeball - G.O. gives them that chance) They look to be conceding the 1 seed to the Pacers but dealing with the 3 peat challenge and all the distractions that come with it...have really become a major challenge.

Bromance? What's wrong with that? Should I expected a call from our POTUS congratulating me for announcing my perversion?

Yeah, I'm a fan of players that helped bring 2 (RIO) or 3 (UD) rings to the HEAT organization, guilty as charged. Players that play with focus and dedicate their efforts to better their TEAM's chances of winning, regardless of self-promotion. GUILTY! You can keep that love for the weedhead retread, I'll reserve my love for the winners.

And for the record, I did say Oden being winded was to be expected. C'mon now, I've been around the game as long as you, we knew he wasn't logging 20 minutes his first game back. Trying to call me out on that was a bit below you.

Hey E-Ball...it's ok to agree to disagree. I'm just hopeful G.O. continues to play without pain. If he does...good things will happen and make a huge difference. We both know what UD & Rio can bring currently...past performance may not help too much at this point. Going forward...I just think (as always)the Heat will need more production inside. Whether Lebron posts up more (which hasn't happened as much)to help trigger the offense or if Oden can continue to play will create a new look teams need to deal with. Hopefully, all the distractions & injuries will not continue to hinder the mindset of this team. The current Heat dynamic probably is more sensitive than most teams due to age...so all these lineup changes play a role in screwing everything up.

I didn't disagree with anything you said about GO. I like him, hope he does well, specially with Birdman down. Can we win without him, history says yes, no one (here on Earth) knows the future, so we only have the past and present base our assumptions on. Heat playing championship level ball in the last 2 weeks, no, but it ain't championship time...it's January.

Haven't seen a lot of positives about the Heat performance lately either, but 'not improving'? Aren't LBJ and Wade shooting the highest percentage from the floor in their careers? Isn't the Heat offense the most, or at the top of the league in efficiency....and better, or improved, from last year? I know the answers, as I'm sure you do.

So what if the Pacers get home court advantage in the playoffs. I don't think the Heat players are playing for that trophy - they do give away trophies for the best regular season record, don't they? They've proven they can win on the road in the playoffs (Boston, Indiana, OKC, Dallas, San Antonio, Chicago - I'll stop there)

So Chalmers has to prove his worth EVERY year? Hasn't he done that since college? Do you doubt Wade's ability to play in big games also? And has supercool ever been to a playoff game to know whether he can help us when we need top level play? We don't know how he'll play - other than he chuck up shots in a hurry - and won't be near as accurate as James Jones in doing so.

I'm putting all my trust in our newest youngest shiniest toy - Toney Douglas. He doesn't have to prove anything, just be new to our team.

Beasley is told to hoist up shots. Lebron says so.

...at the same rate as Wade?

And LBJ wasn't referring to bad shots, he was talking about open shots - not one pass over half court to supercool and he takes a dribble and shoots a 17' jumper off the rim.

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