x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Lukewarm start for Miami Heat creates little panic for James and Wade

The NBA Finals are seven months away and it is difficult to play at a top level when, in the back of your mind, you know you are championship quality, writes Steve Dilbeck.

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, right, and LeBron James protest a loose ball foul called against James against the Los Angeles Clippers last week. J Pat Carter / AP Photo
Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, right, and LeBron James protest a loose ball foul called against James against the Los Angeles Clippers last week. J Pat Carter / AP Photo

Fear not, dynasty lovers, the Miami Heat are neither about to fall into the Atlantic nor into mediocrity.

For now, though, bullets do not bounce off their chests and every shot does not draw only net. For now, they can be beaten. Just like regular teams.

It is not like everything is suddenly going wrong, but when you have won consecutive NBA titles and have pretty much everyone back, it is just sort of expected that you will storm the gates again.

Only Miami are a rather ordinary 4-3. After winning their opener over Chicago Bulls, they have lost to Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets – and most shockingly – to the talent-thin Boston Celtics at home. In that game they shot 57.7 per cent from the field.

LeBron James has a bad back and Dwyane Wade bad knees. Mostly, though, the Heat just do not look all that motivated.

The NBA Finals are seven months away and it is difficult to play at a top level when, in the back of your mind, you know you are championship quality and every other team gets pumped up to play you.

“We’re not in a panic mode,” James said. Wade did admit he was concerned the Heat had got “too comfortable” with themselves. Not exactly a grave danger seven games into the season.

The Heat are allowing 100.9 points per game and opponents to shoot 47.3 per cent, fairly horrific numbers for a quality defensive team. Defence comes from effort, and right now, it is their missing quality. They almost look bored, which does not figure to be a problem once the post-season is in view.

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