Yes, the Heat (23-9) have the best record in the Eastern Conference and the fourth-best record in the NBA. And, yes, they still have LeBron James, whose 26.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 6.9 assists allow him to maintain his title as Best Player on the Planet.
But there’ is grave concern among fans that their defending champion Heat are playing subpar, non-championship basketball. We’ll see if the six-game road trip that starts tonight at Indiana does anything to quell their unrest.
The dissatisfaction – which has been simmering all season – is so palpable Heat owner Micky Arison took to Twitter on Sunday to address the rumblings, saying, “When did being 1st in the East at the beginning of January become not good enough for some @MiamiHEAT fans?”
Call it the curse of trying to win “Not one, not two, not three, not four…”
Expectations for this Heat team are sky high, and they are not playing up to those expectations, realistic or not.
The local contingent of New York Knicks fans – trust me, it’s a large and vocal crew – is feeling so empowered that they have been chirping loudly – some would say legitimately – since their 112-92 victory over the Heat on Dec. 6. That was Miami’s second consecutive loss and sent the Heat tumbling to a hand-wringing 12-5.
Well, it was hand-wringing for Heat fans, who are seeing the dream of “not five, not six, not seven…” beginning to erode after just one.
Heat fans expect dominance, and they’re not seeing it. That’s what brought on the first wave of concern this season.
Now comes wave of concern No. 2, and it could soon swell to tidal wave proportions.
The players acknowledge they need to improve, especially on the road.
“We’ll figure it out a little more on this road trip,” guard Ray Allen said.
Guard Dwyane Wade looks at the road trip as an opportunity.
“It’s going to be good for us,” he said.
Forward Chris Bosh sees it as a test.
“It’s a test to see how we’re going to respond to adversity,” he said.
They’re all fairly level-headed about things.