Well, listen to that team's coach. In this case, Miami's Erik Spoelstra, who went on Miami's 790 The Ticket Monday to discuss his Heat:
"I don't think we all know exactly what it is. I do know what we say is greatness is consistency. We have proven that we can be great, we can be great on the defensive end of the floor, but we have not shown greatness yet. We do not do it on a possession or every single minute of the game mentality yet. We're moving in that direction and I think our guys understand that this isn't where we want to stop. To play really at the elite level, and we're talking seven game series, we need to be more consistent with that and that's what we’re striving for and working for every single day."
Spoelstra's not incorrect. Though the 30-9 Heat are second in offensive efficiency and third in defensive efficiency, the team still falls short of greatness at its current level. Not because the team has yet to go through the trials of an extended playoff run, or because it "only" has the third-best record in the NBA, but because the team isn't playing to its capacity, yet.
The Heat are winning because they're adding the sum total of their parts up and getting by on individual gifts. They have yet to develop the sort of cohesion that teams of this talent caliber usually attain a year or two into their existence, when the gestalt theory takes hold and the team becomes bigger than the sum of its parts.
There's nothing particularly wrong with that, just 2 1/2 months into the season, and the blame for it falls on the players as much as it does the coaching staff, but Spoelstra is telling the truth. This isn't some Lou Holtz, "Aw, shucks, I don't know if we'll ever win another game"-brand of motivation.
The Heat have shown just enough to win a ton of games. This can be enough to actually pilot that brand of ball to a championship (not unlike the 2006 Miami Heat), because the raw talent is that good, but "greatness" is still a while away. They'll just have to settle for being really, really, really, really good for now.
- Erik Spoelstra