"Never seen anything like this," Bosh said of how opponents have at times scored at will against Miami. "And I've played on some bad defensive teams. We're not one."
The most troubling defensive stat of all for the Heat is likely this: Miami entered Friday 23rd in points allowed per game, after finishing fourth in the league in that stat last season. The Heat have allowed the third-highest number of 3-pointers in the NBA so far, nothing new after giving up the second-most makes from beyond the arc a season ago.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra often speaks of habits and the human condition, and he was asked Friday if Miami's struggles are simply because the team knows the playoffs are still four months away.
"If that is a reality, then that is a major problem," Spoelstra said. "But we have an opportunity to correct it, you know, right now. If it goes too long, what it becomes is a tendency. Goes longer than that, it becomes a habit. If it continues, by the time you get to the playoffs, that's who you are. So that's what we're going to change right now."
James insisted that the regular-season-is-irrelevant argument doesn't apply to Miami.
"Not for me," James said. "It's not for me. My motivation is well beyond hoisting one trophy. I'm not taking any shortcuts to get to that point, so I can't allow my teammates to take shortcuts. We've got to be better. I've got to be better. It's that simple."
For two years, ever since Wade and James and Bosh decided to play together in Miami, the Heat have been surrounded by what they call "noise." Everything the Heat have done, the good and especially the bad, have been scrutinized. Winning last season's title, they figured, would relieve perhaps a tiny bit of that noise — that is, until the first rough patch of this season arrived.
It's now here. And some inside the Heat locker room think that the extra motivation might not be a bad thing right now.
"We understand what it takes to win," Haslem said. "We understand that we have what it takes to win. But not performing at a high enough level defensively, it's just a shame. We've got to fix it. And we're going to fix it."