It's time for the 10 or so true Miami Heat fans to start getting worried -- really worried.
Thursday night's throttling at the hands of the Indiana Pacers showcased all of the issues that Heat fans have secretly worried about, especially since Chris Bosh suffered an abdominal strain.
Miami has now lost two in a row without Bosh and look lost offensively against a staunch Pacers defense. The Heat couldn't get anything going against the Pacers on Thursday night, especially Dwyane Wade, and lost 94-75 to an Indiana team that had its way with them all night.
Roy Hibbert basically set up camp in the paint and put together an impressive double-double of 19 points and 18 rebounds with no one on the Heat squad capable of stopping the 7-footer. Talented small forward Danny Granger added 17 points of his own as the collective frustration of members of the Heat was palpable.
Wade, one of the team's biggest stars, was so frustrated by his five point, five turnover performance on a 2 for 13 shooting night that he was seen lashing out at coach Erik Spolestra during one of the team's timeouts.
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Get out of my f--- face, Wade told Spolestra, according to The Miami Herald.
It was a sign of a team ready to implode and raised some serious questions as to whether the Heat are truly a championship-caliber team. It's too soon to declare the Heat dead in this series - Miami has plenty of talent to come back from a 2-1 hole - but the team might need to undergo some serious changes in order to survive and advance past the Heat.
The Heat have struggled at times in the regular season with a half-court set offense, as the team prefers to run and gun to capitalize on its superior athleticism. But it hasn't worked against the Pacers and instead they've been forced to play in the half-court offense and have been unable to get good, open looks at the basket.
James and Wade have both struggled mightily since Bosh went down with an injury as the Pacers have one less scorer to worry about and can instead zero in on the talented duo. James managed 22 points on Thursday, but on 10 for 22 from the field and with four turnovers.
But for once it wasn't James that is getting the lion share of the blame for a Heat loss - that rests squarely on the shoulders of the popular Wade. He played poorly, but worse was the encounter with Spolestra. He challenged his coach's authority on a nationally televised game and that's a big deal, no matter how much Spolestra tries to spin it.
That happens, Spoelstra said. Anybody that has been part of a team or has been a coach or been a player, you have no idea how often things like that happen. That was during a very emotional part of the game. We were getting our butt kicked. Those exchanges happen all the time during the course of an NBA season.
Those exchanges do happen during the course of a season, but those types of outbursts during high-pressure situations in the playoffs are not a good sign.
Perhaps Wade can channel the fire to lead the Heat to a comeback in this series on the way to the team's first title with the vaunted Big 3.
But it's looking more and more likely that the Heat will flame out of the playoffs again with all of their flaws exposed on Thursday night.