COMMENTARY | Maybe Dwyane Wade was right.
Before Christmas, Miami Heat's franchise guard said, "We are not a great team."
Since that time, the Heat started to reaffirm Wade's sentiments. After Christmas, Miami lost back-to-back road games at Detroit and Milwaukee. The Heat needed overtime to beat the Dallas Mavericks at home two days into the New Year before falling to the Chicago Bulls in American Airlines Arena two nights later.
Now entrenched in a six-game road trip, the Heat have hit the skids again.
It started with a 10-point loss at Indiana when Miami scored a season-low 77 points. Two nights later, the Heat lost by a bucket to the Portand Trail Blazers at the Rose Garden. After applying the tourniquet with a blowout win at Sacramento - in which city mayor Kevin Johnson urged LeBron James to buy the team - the Heat lost again at Utah.
Wade was benched during the entire fourth quarter of the Heat's loss to the Jazz, and made a quick exit to the team bus after the game. He scored 11 points and had five rebounds.
"Coach makes the calls," Wade told reporters in an abbreviated question-and-answer session in the locker room before bolting for the bus. "I'm just a player."
Wade, who returned from off-season knee surgery, is averaging 20.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists. He is second on the team in scoring behind James' 26.0. Wade is 10th in the NBA among scoring leaders in this, his 10th NBA season.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra also benched forward Chris Bosh during the game.
"Everybody in our locker room, staff, players, everybody included, has to give more, and that's the bottom line," Spoelstra told the Miami Herald. "We have to give more to get us over the hump and get a quality win."
Miami hasn't beat a team with a winning record since taking care of Oklahoma City in a rematch of last year's NBA Finals on Christmas Day. The Heat are 8-9 on the road this year.
Miami still occupies first place in the East Southeast Division by 3 ½ games over the Atlanta Hawks. They are a half-game ahead of the New York Knicks in the overall Eastern Conference standings. But there's no disguising the funk Miami is in. The Heat are 4-6 in their last 10.
Indeed, maybe Wade was right.
"We can't play with low energy," James told reporters.
With Wednesday's 10:30 p.m. EST game at the surging Golden State Warriors up next before ending this trip at West Coast's drama-driven Lakers, something needs to change.
"We can't dig ourselves a hole," James said.
It's already getting deep enough.
Jim McCurdy is a freelance sports writer based in Miami. He has written for major publications across the country. Follow him on Twitter @irishcurds