|2013-14 Team Rating|
|2ndth Overall||10thth Overall|
Stats Through Jan. 20
LeBron James and Chris Bosh are All-Stars and both playing at their usual high level. Shane Battier has done his usual work. The depth up front, however, remains an issue. Greg Oden's finally been activated. But the Heat need his best work to come in April and beyond.
Mario Chalmers has been a steadying force during a season when Dwyane Wade has been spectacular at times and invisible in others due to his maintenance plan, necessitating that veterans Ray Allen and Roger Mason to play fill-in minutes more often than not.
A team that was once considered the most feared defensive group in the league has seen some slippage this season. They still rank among the league's best but they are not nearly as tightly wound as they were two years ago.
What was a deep veteran cast the past two years has been something of a mixed bag this season. Part II of the Michael Beasley experiment is turning out to be much like the first time around, the talent and potential is there. The production, alas, is not. Norris Cole, as always, is a bright spot when he's on.
Erik Spoelstra is a victim of his own recent success. He's expected to work miracles and magic whenever the Heat struggle temporarily. And he's done exactly that, for the most part, finding ways to keep his team on edge when the entire world knows that their regular season is meaningless if they don't finish the second season the right way.
The Heat have the arduous task of trying to find motivation in every bit of minutiae during an 82-game regular season that will not actually define their year. The Heat's heaviest lifting will come in the playoffs and they know it, which makes it easier to stomach the hiccups they endured to start 2014.
They kept themselves going this time last season by chasing history and the Lakers' NBA record 33-game win streak. They won 27 straight and almost paid the price in the playoffs. The fatigue of that pursuit almost cost them against the Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals and against the Spurs in The Finals. A more measured approach was warranted and the Heat, whether it's on purpose or not, will be better off come April because they aren't stretching themselves right now.
-- Sekou Smith
Explanation of Marking System
|Golden State Warriors||A-|
|Los Angeles Clippers||A-|
|Los Angeles Lakers||D|
|New Orleans Pelicans||C-|
|New York Knicks||D|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||A|
|Portland Trail Blazers||A|
|San Antonio Spurs||A|