November 28, 2010
First off, the Heat have lost 13 consecutive games to the Mavericks, which is never a fun streak to carry. But this was the first loss against the Mavs since the acquisitions of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and company.
With that said, Mavs owner Mark Cuban had some not-so-nice remarks for the Heat just over a week before the two teams met, casting yet another a cloud of negativity over the much maligned Heat squad. That made the November 27th match-up one that the Heat should have marked on their calendar as a statement game.
Clearly, the message was not delivered as the Heat fell to 9-8 for the season. In the process Miami fell to a 19-point deficit and shot under 17% for the third quarter. That's where deja vu kicks in.
A Turning Point?
Let's go back to February 9, 2006.
The Heat played the Mavericks in Dallas, entering the game with an above average 30-19 record. By the end of the game Miami would leave Texas with their 20th loss of the season and the worst taste of defeat they had been dealt:
A 36-point loss with the final score of 76-112.
Miami went on to finish the remainder of the season 22-10 and posted a final record of 52-30. The rest is history as the Heat won their first ever NBA title. As fate would have it, the Heat defeated the Mavs in the NBA Finals.
In essence, that painful loss was the turning point in Miami's season and marked the beginning of their magical 2006 Championship run.
Now how does this fit into today's Heat team and their circumstances?
Different Circumstances, Same Goal
While Saturday night's loss was not nearly as horrendous as the '06 shellacking, there is one thing that ties today's situation in Miami with the one four years ago: The goal to win it all.
Both Heat teams had the expectation to win, and to win big. The '06 roster boasted stars Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O'Neal along with veterans like Payton, Antoine Walker, James Posey, Alonzo Mourning and Jason Williams. Similarly, today's team has plenty of notable characters that were assembled to bring home the title.
While the media hype and nature of the team's assembly differ greatly, the fact that each team underperformed their high expectations creates a parallel.
Will Miami take their eighth loss of the year as a driving factor toward changing course, just like they did four years ago? We can't say that.
But sooner or later this team - whose core was assembled under the ideals of camaraderie, passion and fun - will mark the line where the buck stops.
Let's hope that line was marked Saturday night in Dallas.