73ºF

Heat Beat: Reality check

Losers of 9 of their last 13 games, the Heat need to turn things around

photo

MIAMI – We've reached that point in the Heat's season that most of us probably didn't want to talk about before the season. Or maybe we just wanted to convince ourselves it wouldn't come. But, we can't avoid in now.

It's called a reality check.

The reality was described in five simple words by Chris Bosh following another tough loss and awful defensive performance in Memphis Monday night.

"We're not used to losing."

And with that is the reality. Unlike the previous four years, losses have come and come in a hurry. After a promising 5-2 start it's now 9 losses in the last 13 games for Miami. As Bosh said, we're just not used to that. Not players, not coaches, not media and certainly not fans. Here's the entire text from Bosh's post-game explanation:

"We're just going to have to find out a way to really overcome the situations and respond the right way. We all know it's difficult. It's a change for everybody . Especially the guys that have been here. It's a change in feeling now because we're not used to losing and we're losing right now. We're not used to playing bad defense and we're playing bad defense."

Bosh is exactly right. The Heat basketball we've seen in the last few weeks is simply unacceptable. Even when the teams of the last few years struggled, we knew they'd bounce back. No one really panicked too much or worried about the big picture.

This team must worry. Because if they don't change things soon, then yes, it could be a very long season. But, all of this doesn't mean the season is doomed, and that's another reality that comes with this slump.

Things can get better, and it's pretty clear the players have had enough.

Now comes the next step.

For the Heat that means getting everyone healthy and sticking to the "process" that coach Erik Spoesltra always preaches about. The good news is Miami is almost back to full health. Chris Anderson is slowly working his way back, and the Heat appeared to dodge a bullet with a recent hand injury to Luol Deng.

I sound like a broken record, but it starts and ends with defense and a true commitment to defense. Trust me, it's what Spo is stressing to this team every day. Heat players are embarrassed by the end result. The latest was the Grizzlies shooting an eye-opening 59% against Miami! That is just absurd.

Not all is lost on this road trip with games at Phoenix, Denver and Utah still remaining. And, of course, not all is lost in this season. 20 games does not make a season. A 9-11 record is not the standard for the Heat. A losing record is not accepted.

So let's get back to the reality. Moments like this will happen throughout this season. This is not the same team of the last four years. But, in a wide-open Eastern Conference, the Heat still have plenty of time to find out what this team can be.

Unlike past seasons, the talk isn't about No. 1 seeds or breaking win records. It's about progress.

Let's see if the Heat can show some improvement over the next week on the road.