Miami Heat’s ‘Woes’ Are Minor, As LeBron James’ Team Remains One of Favorites to Win NBA Title


Miami Heat's 'Woes' Are Minor, As LeBron James' Team Remains One of Favorites to Win NBA TitleBOSTON — Believe it or not, the Miami Heat are not the 2011 Indianapolis Colts.

Judging by many of the things that have been said about the Heat, a casual fan could be forgiven for assuming the Heat were a dysfunctional team of historic proportions, on par with Peyton Manning's former franchise this past NFL season.

After all, the Heat can't win on the road. They can't beat good teams. Chris Bosh looks lost. And LeBron James stinks.

That just about covers it, right?

The only problem with that assessment is that most of it is wrong. The Heat fell to 16-12 on the road after Sunday's 91-72 loss to Boston, giving them a better road record than the Sixers, Pacers, Hawks, Lakers, Clippers, Mavericks and, yes, even the Celtics. Mario Chalmers admitted Miami has had some issues away from American Airlines Arena, but noted that the Heat are far from hopeless away from home.

"Road games are tougher sometimes because of the home crowd and teams play different at home, but we're [16-12], so that's still good," Chalmers said. "We're just trying to get better and get ready for the playoffs."

Similarly, the assertion that the Heat cannot beat good teams is just not backed up with facts. The Heat are 20-10 against teams with .500 records or better, tied for the second-most wins in the league against that type of opponent. And while Bosh was entirely dormant against the Celtics, he is Miami's most reliable midrange shooter and is vital to their pick-and-roll game.

The anatomy of the Heat's pick-and-roll means nothing to many fans, unfortunately, but it does not take a coach to read a stat line. Try this on for size: Bosh averages 18.3 points per game, just a notch below Hawks forward Josh Smith, who has become everybody's favorite player thanks to an unsustainably good March.

James, meanwhile, holds the highest player efficiency rating in the league by more than 3.00 ratings points, and should be the front-runner for the MVP award that Kevin Durant will probably receive in the end.

Even when the Heat win, though, they are open to criticism if they do not win convincingly. They outscored the Mavericks and Raptors 56-31 combined in the fourth quarters of their last two games before Sunday, yet prior to Sunday's tip-off, coach Erik Spoelstra got testy when a reporter's question alluded to the Heat allowing both teams to stay close entering the final quarter.

"Listen, every team is competing," Spoelstra said. "We play against good teams and they're going to play and pose a challenge. I don't think anybody in the league is blowing people out game after game. It happens. It's a game of runs.

"We're trying to be one of the more consistent teams. Our overall point differential, I believe, is second in the league. But consistency is something we're all going to try to strive for. I was encouraged by our ability in both those games to pull away in the fourth quarter."

Spoelstra looked spent by the end of the Heat's loss to the Celtics, even though his team was still entrenched as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.

It really should not be that way. Spoelstra has one of the best teams in the league and stands a better than even chance to be wearing a commemorative hat and T-shirt, drenched in champagne, when the seasons ends.

The Heat have problems — problems nearly every other team would love to have.

Have a question for Ben Watanabe? Send it to him via Twitter at @BenjeeBallgame or send it here.

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