3-on-3 debate: Heat lose again to Milwaukee

February, 2, 2012
2/02/12
12:10
AM ET
LeBron James
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
LeBron marked a new season-high with 40 points, but the Heat blew an 18-point lead in Milwaukee.

If you turned off the game after the Heat went up 40-23 in the first quarter, you missed one of the most impressive comebacks of the season by the Milwaukee Bucks.


Despite allowing LeBron James to outscore them 24-23 in the first quarter, Brandon Jennings and the shorthanded Bucks came roaring back to notch their second win in as many weeks against Miami. The Heat are now 8-2 in their last 10 games with both losses coming at the hands of the Bucks.

What went wrong for the Heat?

In another installment of Heat Index's 3-on-3 series, our writers give their takes on Miami's sixth loss of the season.


1. What is the biggest positive takeaway from the Heat's loss?


Tom Haberstroh: That the final buzzer didn't malfunction. Seriously, that was as one of the ugliest 36 minutes of basketball that the Heat have played in the Big Three era. If I have to point to a positive, it's that LeBron James scored 40 points. But boy, does that that feel hollow now.

Michael Wallace: Perspective. Hearing some of the players' comments after this loss, you clearly get the sense the Heat know exactly where the breakdowns and problems originate. You don't see any fractures within the framework of the locker room. LeBron James was asked to address what happened to the Heat, and he responded by saying they lost Wednesday, but won eight of their past 10. Again, perspective. This team won't get too caught up in the extreme emotional swings.

Brian Windhorst: The Heat should hope to avoid the Bucks in the playoffs apparently. They've beaten them three times in a row dating to last season. The Heat have trouble defending them inside and allow Brandon Jennings' volume scoring to be more effective than it should.



2. What is the biggest concern from the Heat's loss?


Haberstroh: The defense. Under no circumstances should the Heat allow 105 points to a Milwaukee Bucks squad that essentially played without Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson. Lazy rotations and a litany of turnovers allowed the Bucks to pour on the points. If this keeps up, their identity will be closer to the "7 seconds or less" Phoenix Suns than the two-way monster that they set out to be.

Wallace: I could easily point out the 22 points allowed off 18 turnovers or the routine poor defensive rotations along the perimeter. But the biggest concern from this loss was that the Heat's bench was outscored 27-7 by the Bucks reserves on a night when Milwaukee's backups essentially didn't include Stephen Jackson. Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller and Norris Cole might as well left at halftime and headed to Philly for Friday's game.

Windhorst: The defense was a big culprit but the Heat have proven they're a good defensive team. The bigger issue was how the Heat completely stopped running offense and turned into jump-shooting fools. The game was still close and instead of using interior game to get shots and fouls they just chucked threes. That's happened in some of their losses. It's a bad habit.



3. What is the biggest question going forward for the Heat?


Haberstroh: How long before we no longer call the opponent 3-point shooting a fluke? The Heat had allowed more 3-pointers than any other team in the league entering Wednesday's game and then the Bucks dropped another 10 on them. They're still one of the longest and most active teams in basketball, but that hasn't been nearly enough. In a shortened season, they won't have much time to iron the issues out.

Wallace: How do you like your LeBron served? I prefer the attacking, play-making LeBron who is an aggressive facilitator that gets - and keeps - his teammates involved. For the past two or three games, we've seen the attacking, scoring LeBron who essentially renders his teammates as glorified spectators. He got away with it against Chicago. It worked for a quarter against Milwaukee. It's a very thin line between these distinctions. But the LeBron we saw against the Knicks the other night is the appropriate one for this team long-term.

Windhorst: Is it a good thing when James or Wade really get hot and start shooting every time down? It seems like the desire for everyone to keep going with a hot hand can kill their offensive rhythm.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dwyane Wade
PTS AST STL MIN
22.8 5.5 1.0 32.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsC. Bosh 8.2
AssistsD. Wade 5.5
StealsM. Chalmers 1.8
BlocksC. Bosh 0.8