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LeBron James on Heat: “We’re playing like s— defensively”

Nov 12, 2013, 2:54 PM EDT

Boston Celtics v Miami Heat Getty Images

The Miami Heat are off to an uninspiring 4-3 start where they have lost games both Philadelphia and Boston. It’s reminiscent of last season, when the Heat coasted through the start of the season, losing games to teams like the banged-up Wizards, then they woke up around the All-Star break, won 27 in a row and went on to another title.

This year things were going to be different, Heat players said from the start. They were going to be focused during the season, build good habits. So far, not so much.

LeBron James sees the issue is on the defensive end, as he told ESPN’s Michael Wallace.

“It’s simple,” James said as the Heat prepared for Tuesday’s home game against the Milwaukee. “These first seven games, we’re playing like s— defensively. It’s that simple. We’re not a sugarcoat team. We came in and got right down to it. We’re terrible on defense, and we’ve got to change that.”

He’s right.

Miami is 25th in the NBA in defensive efficiency allowing 105.4 points per 100 possessions. For comparison, last season they allowed 100.5 (and remember, that was after coasting through the fist half). The only reason they have four wins is their offense has been fantastic (best in the league so far).

The Heat play a gambling, aggressive defense and that has forced turnovers on 18.7 percent of opponents possessions (third best in the league) but the bottom line is teams are shooting 47.3 percent overall (26th in the league) and 37.1 percent from three (19th), which combined is an eFG% of 52.7, 28th in the league.

A lack of rim protection in Miami remains in issue, with teams shooting a strong 62.7 percent inside 8 feet.

Honestly, this is still not that big a deal.

Why? We know Miami can change this around because they have done it before. The defense we’ve seen from them come late in the season and the playoffs is different from November. It was last year, it will be this year (if they are healthy).

It’s just a question of when they decide to get serious and flip the switch. Then we can discuss if this year in a deeper East whether that will that be enough.

  1. belleby123 - Nov 12, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    What does the coach think?

    • spthegr8 - Nov 12, 2013 at 7:51 PM

      Read the Title of the thread again. The answer to your question is right there!!

      • belleby123 - Nov 13, 2013 at 7:43 AM

        No it isn’t. I was just referring back to my comments that Spoelstra isn’t much of a coach. LeBron sounds like he’s in charge of the team.

      • spthegr8 - Nov 13, 2013 at 3:48 PM

        Teams win championship’s…NOT Individual’s!!!

    • spthegr8 - Nov 13, 2013 at 9:38 AM

      “Spo isn’t much of a coach” So who was that guy that went move for move with Pop last yr in the Final’s?? I’m no Heat fan but ppl don’t give Spo enough credit.

      • belleby123 - Nov 13, 2013 at 12:53 PM

        Who’s the guy on the Spurs that is comparable to LeBron again?

  2. wellireckon - Nov 12, 2013 at 3:16 PM

    Even if they fall to the 3 or 4 seed. No one will want to play them in the first round. Of course we’re only 7 games into an 82 game season.

  3. ProBasketballPundit - Nov 12, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    He’s right. Basketball-reference has them at 27th in defensive efficiency and 1st on offense. But this is a team who knows what they’re doing by now. They’ll put more effort into defense toward the end of the season & playoffs.

  4. losanginsight - Nov 12, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    not 3, not 4, not 5…5 rings if harder to accomplish than it sounds.

  5. spursareold - Nov 12, 2013 at 4:11 PM

    This is starting to sound a LOT like the late Shaq/Kobe era Laker teams. Even the ‘flipping the switch’ verbage is the same.

    Teams get tired after several long playoff runs. It’s just a fact. I have a hard time seeing Miami pull off another 20+ streak, so they probably won’t hit 60 wins unless they start giving defensive effort before Thanksgiving, not MLK day like they did last year.

    • kb2408 - Nov 12, 2013 at 4:20 PM

      Dude, you said it perfectly! I was thinking the exact same thing. The Heat are at the point where flipping the switch won’t be so easy. It’s not like they were ever truly a great team to begin with. The only time they were truly impressive was against a “not quite ready for prime time” OKC team.

    • antistratfordian - Nov 12, 2013 at 4:56 PM

      No, they are nothing like the Shaq/Kobe era Laker teams.

      “The Chicago teams treated the the regular season with a sense of urgency, an unwillingness to lose, ever. Coaching the Lakers, who have never carried that attitude, has required some adjustment on my part.”

      —Phil Jackson, The Last Season, pg. 52

      The Heat – and LeBron James in particular – are trying to win every game they play. LeBron showed that in Cleveland, and he showed that clearly last year when Miami won 27 games in a row. Other teams give up when they’re down 30 points in the third quarter – not LeBron and Miami. Like MJ before him, LeBron is always going 110% during the regular season. That’s why he and MJ have 9 MVPs combined, whereas Kobe has 1 and Shaq has 1 (slackers! ;)).

      And it is not a coincidence that LeBron James and Michael Jordan are the only two players to lead two teams to an .800 win percentage or better*.

      *I contend that Wilt did not “lead” the 1972 Lakers in the manner that LeBron and Jordan did with their 65+ win teams. BIll Sharman wouldn’t let him. West was much more of Wilt’s equal in that season than Pippen was to Jordan or Wade has been to LeBron.

  6. kb2408 - Nov 12, 2013 at 4:12 PM

    The old “they can flip the switch whenever they want to” claim, huh? Well, there comes a point when a team goes to flip that proverbial switch and nothing happens.

    • antistratfordian - Nov 12, 2013 at 5:18 PM

      You don’t have to worry about that. They are not a “flip the switch whenever they want to” team. That is not their mindset. They hate losing and if you saw LeBron’s face at the end of the Celtics game, and during the post-game, you would’ve seen that clearly – he was steaming mad – he didn’t care that it was just the 7th game. He doesn’t like to lose, ever.

      That is the whole point of his comments here.

      • spthegr8 - Nov 12, 2013 at 7:49 PM

        LLS!! I knew you were gonna let us ALL know what the “Real” meaning was behind LeBron’s comment’s. Just like you did with Kirilenko’s comment’s last week. IDK, what we would do without you here on PBT………SMFH!!!!!

      • antistratfordian - Nov 12, 2013 at 8:42 PM

        Mad again? Pop a xanax.

      • spthegr8 - Nov 12, 2013 at 10:10 PM

        Hardly. Just calling you out on your “Know it All Bulls**t!!!

      • antistratfordian - Nov 12, 2013 at 10:30 PM

        Nah, you are clearly mad.

      • spthegr8 - Nov 12, 2013 at 11:09 PM

        It’s AMAZING. You know what I’m thinking too. Who could have seen that coming from U???? Not me for sure!!

      • antistratfordian - Nov 12, 2013 at 11:12 PM


      • spthegr8 - Nov 12, 2013 at 11:44 PM

        I said its amazing, not your amazing.

      • antistratfordian - Nov 13, 2013 at 12:01 AM

        Face it, you think antistratfordian is amazing. And you’re right – he is.

      • spthegr8 - Nov 13, 2013 at 12:44 AM

        I think you are alot of things, but surprisingly, amazing ISN’T one of them!! Not hating you, Just Sayin’!!!!!

      • antistratfordian - Nov 13, 2013 at 1:53 AM

        You don’t believe you.

      • belleby123 - Nov 13, 2013 at 7:45 AM

        antistratfordian – Nov 12, 2013 at 5:18 PM

        > He doesn’t like to lose, ever.

        Man, you’re desperate to make him sound like MJ.

  7. gquesen - Nov 12, 2013 at 4:49 PM

    “They were never truly a great team to begin with.”

    That’s pretty darn debatable. They went on the second longest winning streak in NBA history. They have gone to they finals three straight years. They won the chip back-to-back. I would classify this Heat team as great.

  8. losanginsight - Nov 12, 2013 at 4:52 PM

    Not 3,not 4, not 5, not 6…Lebron made it sound easier than it really is. It will be a tough decision for this guy after an early playoff exit this year.

  9. chicitybulls - Nov 12, 2013 at 5:05 PM

    In other, non-related news Duke and Kansas hooks up tonight. Jabari Parker vs. Andrew Wiggins. Now we get to see who’s the best in the land, Mr. Helin. Muhahahaha. J/k. Should be a good game.

  10. gquesen - Nov 12, 2013 at 5:07 PM

    I agree that it will be tough to “flip the switch.” But since when does a team that owns the second longest win streak in NBA history, and wins back-to-back titles not get classified as being great?

  11. jbeagles23 - Nov 12, 2013 at 6:21 PM

    Lol kb2408. Not a great team to begin with? Just dominated both ends of the floor for two straight season.

  12. universalseeder305 - Nov 12, 2013 at 6:56 PM

    I don’t really care about losing to the non-contending teams. I just hope the show up and win when they play the Pacers, Bulls, Nets, Knicks, Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, and Rockets! Those are the teams they really need to “flip the switch” for!

  13. erickrack - Nov 12, 2013 at 7:13 PM

    The heat still is having a “peace time” ; still on relax mode, they do know they screw up big time in their last game with Boston; but, as Lebron they have to change that, and based on what i have seen the Heat is capable of, they will be back…

  14. apkyletexas - Nov 12, 2013 at 7:47 PM

    What did he think? That they were going to squeeze another decent season out of Haslem at 33 years old? Out of Batier at 35? Out of Ray Allen at 38?

    That Chris Anderson would ever play well in back-to-back seasons at any time in his life? That D-Wade would play well in back-to-back games?

    That Chris Bosh was suddenly going to turn into a premier defender at age 29?

    If you took Lebron off this roster, this is a BAD looking roster. Worse than some of his Cleveland teams. Lebron is even more amazing for dragging this group to a title last year. He’s damm lucky that Oklahoma City traded Harden away last year and that Westbrook busted his knee in the playoffs.

  15. championmamba - Nov 12, 2013 at 8:44 PM

    The Miami Heatstrokes admitted they take games off and don’t give full effort……this is one of the huge factors that separate Michael Jordan from Lebron James….Jordan’s teams NEVER took a gave off, they came to play every night, on both ends of the ball…even if they didn’t play their best, they have 100% effort……..

    Lebron James is trying to protect his shooting percentage too, so people can push him past Jordan….the league and the pundits have already pushed Kobe out to pasture……Lebron is playing w/a career 25ppg scorer and a two career 20ppg scorers and a litany of world league snipers, including the most prolific 3 point shooter in history and cats want to push the notion that he’s carrying this team…even when Bosh is leading the team in shooting percentage as we speak…where Lebron, Bosh, and Wade all had career highs in shooting percentage last year because opponents can not play conventional defense against them because of the sheer fact they represent 2 of the top 5, 3 of the top 10 players in the league, colluded when they joined forces and Wade or Bosh can bust 30 on any given night……..but Lebron is better than Jordan who stayed the course and didn’t join forces with two superstars to win……..but in the end, it aint gone work and then maybe we can get back to watching some real NBA basketball rather than this video game ball we’ve been watching for the past 3 seasons

  16. Eric Fay - Nov 13, 2013 at 3:32 AM

    Please, would you two exchange AOL screen names?

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