Miami’s Dream Team Stumbles Out of the Gate

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Since acquiring LeBron James in the offseason, the Miami Heat has had some huge expectations to contend with. Almost instantly following the trade, NBA analysts lined up to project Miami as the next NBA champions, and the so-called “Big Three” of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh became the most feared trio in the game.

There is almost no upside to having such huge expectations attached to your team. The media frenzy can be distracting, and it gets the other teams pumped up and determined to take you down. In the admittedly still new 2010 season, it appears so far that the Miami squad may not be all they were cracked up to be. But is it just temporary jitters, or do the early-season stumbles signal bigger problems?

The record of 5-4 so far may not seem terrible—after all, a winning record is a winning record—but it’s a little disappointing in light of the high expectations and the nature of the losses. The drubbing the Heat took at the hands of Celtics last week was pathetic, with all three major stars taking on a deer-in-the-headlights look both on the court and in the post-game interviews. The loss to Utah was almost as bad, and both losses were doubly painful due to the fact that they were on the home court.

Team officials have done everything they can to spin the situation and diffuse the talk that the season could be a bust, but Miami fans are getting restless, and a few commentators around the sport have written that putting this trio together was an ill-advised move from the get-go.

If the team continues on their current trajectory, they’re projected to finish the season with a 45-36 record, which may be enough in a mediocre year. But this year is set to be anything but mediocre, with several teams expected to have phenomenal seasons.

Of course, you could say that nine games into the season is way too early to start calling Miami’s performance a disappointment, but some writers are pointing out that each of the Heat’s losses so far has happened due to different reasons, which suggests that the team has a lot of holes that need to be patched.

Teams can make adjustments to a certain extent, but when you have three of the best players in the game as your starters, you shouldn’t have this many holes. And again, the varying nature of the Heat’s weaknesses suggests that the coaches have their work cut out for them.

The worst part about the loss to the Celtics in particular is that it went down exactly as the most pessimistic commentators had predicted: Wayne and Bosh were made spectators, while James dominated with his offense. Of course, you can go a long way on the talent of James alone, but this is not the way that it was supposed to be.

There was a point late in the game against Boston when it seemed Bosh had stopped expecting to get the ball from Wade and was doing his own separate thing. Meanwhile, Wade seemed unsure what to do a lot of the time, and the other members of the team just seemed anxious to get the ball to James as quickly as possible.

If the Heat want to salvage their season, they’re going to have to work through these problems and find ways for the three stars to work together rather than functioning as three separate entities. Unfortunately, you can’t force players to have chemistry with one another, which means making these adjustments could be a long slog, and Miami fans may not have the patience for it.

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