LeBron admits Wade’s time off, other injuries throwing off Heat’s rhythm

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Miami has won two of its last three games, but they haven’t exactly looked impressive doing it. They had to go to overtime against the Bobcats, sandwiched in a loss when they gave up 121 to the Atlanta Hawks (without Al Horford), then Tuesday night struggled past the Boston Celtics. Not long ago there was the three-game losing streak.

The conventional wisdom is the Heat just aren’t motivated yet. After three straight trips to the finals they are mentally not focused in the middle of a marathon regular season, and when they are not focused their aggressive style of defense becomes vulnerable. There is truth to that.

But injuries, and keeping Dwyane Wade out of the lineup has hurt too, LeBron James told ESPN.

“I can say from a rhythm standpoint, it’s kind of hurt us,” James said. “And we’re a team that’s built on rhythm, built on chemistry, and we’ve had so many lineup changes, so many different guys in and out with injuries that it’s kind of hurt our performance. We don’t like to use it as a crutch or as an excuse.”

When he has been on the court this season he’s been as good as any guard in the East, but he’s missed 12 games this season already. That is by design — the goal is to have him right for the playoffs, not a late January road matchup.

But the lack of consistency clearly is impacting the Heat on the court.

Not that the lineup shuffling is going to change anytime soon — there is nobody from behind pushing Miami. It’s the Pacers, the Heat are four games back of them (if Miami wants to make a second half push for home court in the Eastern Conference Finals, which Paul George thinks they need) then after Miami it’s eight games back to the Hawks. Nobody is closing that gap, not even a hot Brooklyn team (11 games back of Miami). Miami and Indiana are going to be the one and two seeds in the East.

With that, what’s the point of rushing anyone back? Miami is just going to have to find that rhythm without a regular Wade for now.