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Posted By Sean Eckhardt On Jan 15 2011 @ 1:29 am In Miami Heat | No Comments

     The Miami Heat appeared almost invincible until a couple of days ago.  Now after losses on back-to-back nights against the Clippers and Nuggets, fans in Miami are worried that the 13 straight road victories were an apparition of some sort.  Worry not Heat fans.  Your team is very, very good, but they are human.  Wade, LeBron, and the whole crew can look at these two games and identify some things that need to be worked on if this team is going to reach true elite status.

     In Los Angeles on Tuesday night, the obvious flaw in Miami’s game seemed to be their lack of intensity on the defensive end.  The Clippers put up 44 points on 77% shooting in the first quarter and that led to the Heat playing from behind for the entire game.  This was the third game in a row in which Miami allowed the home team to build a double-digit lead early in the contest.  Against Milwaukee and Portland, the Heat was able to rally at the end to force overtime and then went on to win in the extra frame.  The ability to come back is a beautiful thing, but if a team continually puts itself in a bad position in the first two quarters, eventually it is going to cost them some wins, no matter how good that team is.  Losing to the Clippers was probably a good thing when looking at the big picture.  It should serve to sharpen the focus of the Heat moving forward.

     Unfortunately, in Denver on Wednesday night, there was no evidence of focus.  LeBron James was out with an ankle sprain and Dwyane Wade just had an off night.  Without the dynamic duo, Miami was pretty flat throughout the entire game.  Once again, defense, or lack of it, was an issue.  Denver scored 130 points on 53% shooting for the game.  The Nuggets were 15-31 from the three-point line.  Overall, it was an uninspiring performance from Miami.

     The good news is that nobody in South Florida has jumped off a bridge yet.  Not due to the Heat anyway.  Winning tends to calm people, and Miami has been victorious at a near historic rate.  The game against Chicago, however, is more  important than the last couple.  The Bulls represent a true test for Miami and are a conference rival.  In addition, Wade has had his struggles when playing in Chicago, his hometown.  At the halfway point in the season, the Heat are 30-11; one game behind Boston for the top spot in the East.  I expect Miami to wind up with 62-63 wins and the top seed in the playoffs.  The winning should be back underway Saturday night in Chi-town.

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