The Miami Heat were supposed to be one of the most dominate teams in the NBA this year, but so far they have just been a mediocre 4 and 3. This may be good for someone like Utah or Minnesota who are coming off losing seasons, but for a team who went out and acquired Jason Williams, and Antoine Walker this may look like a complete failure. That however is the furthest from the truth.
The Heat have also lost All-star center Shaquille O’Neal, now while Alonzo Mourning may be a good stop gap fro now, he is and never has been a Shaq type player. The loss of Shaq has been a huge factor for the Heat, who have been struggling to score compared to the ease of which they did so last season. The 2005-06 Heat are averaging, just 96 points a game, while their season ago
The Heat have also had two games against the rejuvenated Indiana Pacers. The Pacers who got back Ron Artest from his season long injury have been a thorn in Miami side for years now, beating the Heat 14 out of their last 15 regular season meetings. The Heat’s only other loss of the season comes to the Milwaukee Bucks, who lead by #1 pick Andrew Bogut and Michael Redd caused the Heat match up problems, not to mention the Bucks shot 50% from the field. The one game the Heat did have Shaq for, they beat the Grizzlies by 19.
Shaq’s sprained ankle should keep him out about 5 or 6 more weeks, but the good news for the Heat is that they have only a few games against the league better teams, one in San Antonio against the Spurs, one in Miami against the mavericks, and one in Detroit vs the eastern champion Pistons. If the Heat can win against teams like Atlanta, who they play twice, and stay competitive against the better teams, by the time Shaq comes back they should be atop the Southeast division. If this scenario plays out, the Heat could become the most dangerous team in the league with a rested Shaq and Dwayne Wade.
Another problem the Heat have been having is the seemingly lack of adjustments made by newcomers Jason Williams, and Antoine Walker. While both players have put up good stats, neither of them have seemed to grasp the Heat defensive concept, allowing the player they are guarding to get penetration, or leaving them open for easy shots. This should improve as the season goes on, but Stan Van Gundy does need to nip this in the butt as soon as possible. The Heat need both of these guys to step up and find their roles as soon as possible, because they traded some of their best role players to acquire them.
If I were a Heat fan I would be worried, but not to worried because the Heat still have one of the most talented rosters in the NBA, and have had a rough stretch of games without their starting center. By late November, early December the Heat should be back to form and all this talk about them being the reincarnation of the early 2000s Trailblazers will cease.
Bran C Faurschou