LeBron James has won three of the last four MVP awards.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade team up for a karaoke session Reuters

After winning the NBA title last season, many people expected the Miami Heat to be a dominant force in 2012-2013. While they’ve started the year at 6-3 and in first place of the Southeast conference, they’ve proven to be very beatable.

Miami is set to visit the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night, one day after losing comfortably to the Los Angeles Clippers. The Heat were down by double-digits for much of the fourth quarter, and the game was in hand, early on in the period.

The Heat’s other two losses were even bigger blowouts. Their first defeat of the season came by 20 points against the New York Knicks. On Sunday, Miami lost by 18 points to the Memphis Grizzlies.

Now, the Nuggets will look to hand the Heat their fourth loss of the year. The game will tip off on TNT at 10:30 p.m. ET. You can watch a free live stream online on TNT Overtime.

The struggles that Miami has faced at points in the young season should give the Nuggets some hope of beating the defending champs. Denver will host LeBron James and company, who have suffered all their losses on the road.

The biggest reason for the Heat’s problems away from home has been their defense. When the “Big 3” joined forces in 2010, Miami became one of the league’s top defenses. The same can’t be said for this season.

In seven of their nine contests, Miami has allowed at least 99 points. They’re 28th in the NBA, giving up 101 points per game.

The Heat’s offense has often been able to overshadow much of the team’s weaknesses on the other end of the court. Miami leads the league, scoring 104.9 points per game.

Denver is a team that hasn’t had trouble scoring in recent years. This season isn’t much different, as they’re putting up 99.1 points per contest. Andre Iguodala leads them at 15.4 points a game in his first year with the club.

The Nuggets are actually expected to beat the Heat. The consensus betting line at most Las Vegas sportsbooks has them as 3.5-point favorites.

Playing the second game of a back-to-back, it won’t be easy for Miami to leave Denver with a win. James has played like an MVP candidate in the first nine games, but the Heat will also need a big night from either Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh. The two combined to shoot 5-of-23 from the field in Miami’s loss to the Clippers.

Prediction: If Miami hasn’t been able to stop average offenses, they’ll have a very tough time slowing down the Nuggets. With Kenneth Faried in the frontcourt, Denver is the best rebounding team in basketball. Between the Heat’s poor defense and the Nuggets ability to get second chance opportunities, they’ll put up to many points for Miami to match.

Predicted Score: Denver 117, Miami 110