The public backlash for the Miami Heat players allegedly crying in the locker room following a loss has been substantial. Most of the criticism has focussed on the fact that the Heat are in second place in the East and thus a small losing streak should not lead to tears. However, an analysis of the factors holding the Heat back from their championship goal reveals some significant issues that should give the team reason to panic.
Their strong record alone shouldn’t put them in the conversation for the NBA title without requiring further examination of their performance this season. The team’s position in the standings is inflated by their dominance against poor teams. The record is especially deceiving when considering the Heat’s struggle to defeat above-average teams. They have a record of 18-20 against teams that have winning records.
Further adding to the concern is their poor record against the elite teams of the NBA, the very teams that they would likely be facing in the event that they reach either the Eastern Conference Championship or the NBA Finals. The Heat are just 5-11 against the Spurs, Lakers, Mavericks, Celtics, Magic, and Bulls combined. Quite simply, if they can’t beat quality teams in the regular season, it seems unlikely they will suddenly find a way to do so in the playoffs.
Adding to the panic is the fact that the Heat have been an extremely inconsistent team this year. Summing up their season in less than 15 seconds is relatively easy: they started off slow, got on a roll, and then went on another losing streak. This leaves many fans and experts wondering what Heat team we will see in the postseason. Moreover, even if the Heat enter the playoffs on a hot streak, will they be able to continue it over the course of the entire playoffs?
Lastly, the Heat have reason to panic because they are different from every other NBA team. They put the pressure on themselves by claiming they would win five championships and by putting together a light show to introduce the new star power to the world this summer. These flashy introductions and bold predictions bring internal pressure that the players have put on themselves. Unlike pressure from the media or fans that can fade in and out, this pressure is permanent. With the team still learning to build chemistry, it would seem this added pressure might not be easily handled.
As we saw during their recent losing streak, the pressure is already getting to them—and the playoffs have not even begun. The sad reality of the current state of affairs for the Heat is that even a stance of defending the players’ actions of panic is one that attacks the legitimacy of their aspirations.