The two-time defending NBA Champion Miami Heat have had an interesting season in their quest for a three-peat. The Heat have dealt with plenty of injuries this season, specifically with Dwyane Wade missing 17 games, and now sit at 47-20. That record is good enough for second in the horrendous Eastern Conference, but it’s not exactly eye-popping.
After finishing 66-16 en route to a title last season, Miami has looked lethargic this year. The Heat have struggled more this season than we have been accustomed to in the Lebron era. So what gives? According to the Palm Beach Post, James believes there are a few reasons this season has been the toughest since the first year the Big 3 joined force in Miami.
“It’s the toughest season we’ve had since Year 1 just because of everything that comes with it,” James said. “Just going out every night where you’re the target and everyone gets up for you and we have to find our own motivation every single night. It’s not always about our opponent. It’s about ourselves, too.”
While these are definitely valid reasons as to why a team would struggle, Lebron and the Heat are not the first defending Champions to deal with them. In the world of sports, the best team is always going to have a target on its back, that just comes with the territory when winning a title.
It does make sense that a team who has been to three straight NBA Finals and won two consecutive NBA Championships would struggle with motivation during the long regular season grind however. When you’re used to playing games that are so important, it may be tough to go all out for some regular season games that ultimately don’t affect your title chances.
Despite all this, the Heat must be careful to not let their lethargy carry over into the postseason where a very hungry and very game Indiana Pacers squad awaits them. If they do, it could be a very long off-season for King James and Co.