MIAMI – When is it appropriate to sound the alarm of concern during the regular season?
The Miami Heat are struggling with that question right now.
LeBron James showed his hand was near the button last week. He had a late-night workout on the Heat’s practice court after that lethargic 112-92 loss to the New York Knicks.
It’s not even 20 games into the regular season and already there have been claims that the defending champs (14-5, .737) are bored. At times they’ve appeared sluggish, uninterested. But the Heat, which has the fifth-best record in the league, says that’s not the case.
“It’s too early to say that,” guard Dwyane Wade told the Miami Herald. “People are worried about last year more than we are.”
That’s probably true. They’ve won eight of their last 10 games heading into Wednesday’s home game against surging Golden State. We all acknowledge this is a veteran Heat team with strong leadership. It’s way too early to doubt whether this team can repeat as champions.
It might be fair, however, to question whether this team has felt unchallenged at times.
The Heat is supremely confident, and rightfully so. They trailed in three series (Indiana, Boston and Oklahoma City) last year en route to winning the title. They not only returned championship talent, they added to it. The only negative that can come of such knowledge is overconfidence, a feeling of superiority.
And that’s the exact reason some feel coach Erik Spoelstra should have his hand near that alarm button.
Already this season the Heat has been flattened twice by the Knicks, lost to lowly Washington, and were challenged by a shell of a San Antonio Spurs team. Miami’s trademark blue collar defense, though looking better recently, has taken a few days off.
“There’s a list of things that we haven’t been doing defensively,” Spoelstra said. “No. 1, we must be disruptive. That’s one of the most significant things that we really haven’t been getting too consistently.”
Charles Barkley took note of the Heat’s sometimes uninspired play.