Newspaper article International New York Times

Miami Lacks Edge to Win Title, but Too Soon to Panic ; Injuries and Subpar Play by Wade Don't Mask Fact That Playoffs Are Certain

Newspaper article International New York Times

Miami Lacks Edge to Win Title, but Too Soon to Panic ; Injuries and Subpar Play by Wade Don't Mask Fact That Playoffs Are Certain

Article excerpt

Though LeBron James is having an excellent season, the Miami Heat are clearly in decline. But they are not exactly reeling, on pace for 58 wins.

When they came to New York to face the Knicks on Jan. 9, the Miami Heat were 27-8. Trailing the Indiana Pacers by one game for the best record in the Eastern Conference, the Heat seemed to be coasting through the season in their pursuit of a third consecutive championship.

Then, in LeBron James's 800th game in the National Basketball Association, Miami lost to the Knicks, 102-92. The next night, the Heat lost to the Nets in Brooklyn. Five days later, they lost to Washington. It was the first time the Heat had lost three consecutive regular-season games since January 2012. In between, Miami played 171 regular-season games, had a 27-game winning streak and won two championships.

The recent losing streak put the Heat in a funk, and they were 5- 5 in the 10 games heading into their 106-91 victory over the Knicks, including a demoralizing loss to Oklahoma City last Wednesday, when they opened an 18-point lead in the first quarter but lost by 17.

Injuries have prevented the Heat from finding a rhythm, and the Pacers have kept their foot on the gas, holding a three-game lead on Miami through Saturday. Dwyane Wade is having a subpar season, and speculation is rampant among fans and the news media that James, who can opt out of his contract after this season, will be taking his talents away from South Beach.

Another N.B.A. title would do a lot to sway James, but right now, the Heat seem to lack the edge that guided them the past two seasons.

Shane Battier, a member of the past two Miami championship teams, said before the January game against the Nets that he could not foresee the current Heat roster competing for a championship unless things are shaken up.

"It's about beating teams, redefining ourselves and finding our game, a game that can win big," Battier said. "We don't have that game right now. We're not close to having that game. We think if we stay healthy, we can get there."

In James's career, there has been a tendency to attribute all of his team's failures and successes to his play. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.