The Miami Heat are in a slump, at least by the lofty standards set by their consecutive championship seasons, punctuated by unforced turnovers and sloppy play during this week’s embarrassing loss at home to the Denver Nuggets. If the Heat has lost focus due to the lack of interesting opponents of late, the Houston Rockets could be the answer today. The Heat and Rockets face off in a game which, while more than a month removed from even the beginning of the playoffs, has a strong chance of being a preview of this summer’s NBA Finals.
The Spurs, Thunder and Clippers might each have something to say about that as they each gear up for their respective attempts to win the Western Conference. The Heat are all but assumed to be the Eastern Conference representative, with only the Indiana Pacers offering any serious playoff competition in the east. But while Miami has relied for the past two seasons on its “big three” core of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, the Rockets suddenly have a big three of their own in James Harden, Jeremy Lin, and Dwight Howard. The latter could be the key to any title run, as he’s been dominant at times during his career but offered relatively little during his brief stint with the Lakers.
Will the Heat use today’s game as an opportunity to regain their focus and make a serious statement in the name of dispatching the whispers fueled by the recent slump? On the other hand, if the Heat go into this game as distracted as they have been for the past week, they could find themselves on the wrong end of a lopsided loss.