After the Heat lost to the Pacers in Indiana on Friday for the second time this season, there was no worry, panic, or even concern form Miami’s two biggest stars.
LeBron James didn’t seem all that interested in the fact that his team has struggled against the top teams in the East this season, and wasn’t down about the way the Pacers used a physical defense and a size advantage to pund the Heat into submission, while shooting a season-high 55.7 percent from the field in the process.
“We don’t put too much into losing a game or winning a game,” James said afterward. “We don’t need victories versus top-four teams to prove what we’re capable of doing. We don’t need ’em. We’d love to have ’em — but we don’t need ’em.”
Dwyane Wade was equally dismissive of the loss.
“I’m glad we could bring the best out of ’em,” Wade said with a chuckle, following a chippy contest where Chris Bosh, Shane Battier, Udonis Haslem, and Erik Spoelstra all picked up technical fouls at various points throughout, in a game that the Pacers led at one stage by as many as 19 points.
Miami has been challenged by teams like the Bulls, Knicks, and Pacers this season, who all have size and the ability to execute flawlessly at times offensively. The Heat continue to be outrebounded on a nightly basis, including by nine in this one, and remain just .500 away from home with a 12-12 road record to this point in the season.
It’s probably difficult for Spoelstra to instill any type of worry into his team before the All-Star break, considering the fact that despite the team’s flaws, which are real, the Heat are at the top of the Eastern Conference standings.
Miami is playing like a team that won the championship the season before; the Heat coast at times, and do just enough to win against the teams that aren’t in the league’s upper echelon. At some point the lack of defensive intensity will come back to haunt them, and the team will realize that flipping that switch, especially against opponents who have gained confidence through lopsided regular season wins, isn’t as easy as it seems.
That time isn’t now, however, as evidenced by the reactions of Wade and James after this one.