The Miami Heat's loss to the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night was all too familiar.
They may be 1st in their division and stand at 43-19 overall but the South Beach based team are 1-8 in games against so called big teams such as the Celtics(0-3), Bulls(0-3), Spurs(0-1) and Mavericks(0-2). In fact their only victory came on Christmas day against the Los Angeles Lakers who haven't looked like a championship team for long stretches of the season despite their recent demolition of the Spurs.
The Heat rebuilt their roster during the offseason with talk of a record breaking regular season surrounding them and a self proclaimed ambition to win multiple championships.
So what could possibly have gone wrong?
Yes the Heat signed the top three free agents available during the offseason and there is no doubt that they have brought an abundance of talent to the Heat. However talent isn't what wins championships in the NBA, just ask Wilt Chamerlain who only managed to win 2 despite dominating his era statistically. Team work and role players are what win championships in the NBA. This concept is explained in great detail in Bill Simmons: The Book of Basketball.
The Heat overlooked two major roles on any championship basketball team when assembling players to play for Erik Spoelstra. They lack a proven point guard to rely on to run their offense while they don't have a center, or any big man, that can dominate the paint.
The center's importance to a team is obvious in order to not give up easy baskets or allow second shot opportunities.
The point guard may be even more important as he is in a sense the quarterback of the team.
Put it this way, how would the Orlando Magic look without Dwight Howard? Well, you can actually find that out this week as Howard has been collecting technical fouls as well as he has rebounds this season and serves a suspension.
What would the Celtics look like without Rajon Rondo? Come to think of it, they would look a lot like the Miami Heat. Littered with talent but lacking a true identity or any sort of direction.
The Heat recently picked up Mike Bibby who has spent the past few seasons of his lengthy career in Atlanta underwhelming audiences with distinctly average play. Bibby was an improvement over the flurry of other players the Heat have tried this season but that says more about that group than Bibby.
At this point Lebron James is the best option the team has at point guard but for obvious reasons they don't want to have to play him there.
It's possible to overcome an average(or even below average) point guard if you can go elsewhere with the ball. The Lakers did not necessarily have an above average point guard when they won the NBA last season, however they did have a future hall of fame shooting guard and a great inside game.
The Heat have potentially two future hall of famers, a shooting guard also in Wade and James, but lack any sort of inside presence.
There is no enforcing presence like a Dwight Howard or even an Andrew Bynum protecting the Heat's basket or attacking the oppositions. Chris Bosh and Zydrunas Ilgauskas are both shooters offensively and lean players who can be taken advantage of defensively with aggressive post play.
Neither player can carry out the role that is required of them to compliment the dynamic duo of Wade and James on the outside.
While Pat Riley would never admit it, the team made a fatal mistake in signing Chris Bosh.
There is no question that Bosh is a very talented player but he does not fit in the Miami team. Miami could have picked up a point guard in free agency, such as Raymond Felton($7 million) and a center like Brendan Haywood($6.9 million) as well as keeping hold of Michael Beasley to make a starting lineup without the major frailties that the current team has.
Felton, while not the greatest of passing point guards, is a very good player that would have prevented the Heat from losing their focus late in games and allow them to run their set plays to a much better degree than they currently are.
Haywood is a strong presence that would give the team a backbone that they are currently missing.
Beasley has shown in Minnesota that he can put up big numbers when given the opportunity and, while he wouldn't need to carry as big a load as Chris Bosh is currently attempting to, he would definitely hold up his end offensively.
As things stand it doesn't look like the Heat can win a single playoff series never mind an NBA Championship.