NEW ORLEANS - DECEMBER 30: Head coach Erik Spoelstra and Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat talk during a time out during the game against the New Orleans Hornets at New Orleans Arena on December 30, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Your Miami Heat, after slogging through a trap of a schedule like the band of misfits and stopgaps they are, must have been desperate for the All-Star break. The last week alone saw the tail end of a five-game losing streak, a round of press-chronicled frustration and ensuing we-didn't-mean-it-that-ways, and two cathartic -- but all too rare -- blowout wins.
How draining. But the upside of all the trauma is that it proves things, for good or ill. Here's three observations on the season so far.
1. Michael Beasley needs a chance figure it out in the fourth. His late minutes are instead going to expiring vets, which seems counterproductive to a point as there's so much yet to be determined about a long-term Wade-Beas combo. Beasley's development needs not be held back by what Bill Parcells might call a "progress-stopper," not this year, anyway, because this team has no shot at any playoffs run. So why not play him, even if he's not the most reliable right now? The worst that can happen is Miami goes 26-27.
Maybe the front office has already determined Beasley isn't the long-term sidekick Wade wants, and therefore they don't mind sitting him for a better shot at a W and trading him when the right opportunity presents. If that's the case, it feels like a shame.
2. Miami overestimated its youngsters. Beasley aside, Mario Chalmers isn't anything special. He may yet become so, but the Heat had to add Carlos Arroyo and Rafer Alston to survive the year. Daequan Cook has been a huge disappointment, notching no more than five baskets a game this season until seven in last night's win. As the league's reigning three-point champion, Cook should be playing more of a complementary role than he has. Dorrell Wright? Improved, sure, but it's taken an awful long time. None of the young guys have seized the role they were meant for and become consistent. So if not now, when?
Miami probably can't afford to find out in a couple of cases (see: point 3).
3. Recipe for letting Dwyane Wade fade away: give him nothing to play for. Wade himself isn't the problem, but he needs a reason to care and the Heat haven't given him one. Last year he had doubters after an injury; this year he has no chance at a title and it shows. A waste of a season, a waste of Wade's considerable talents. On the plus side, you can be sure the front office is doing everything in their power to build him a better team and not to repeat the experience.
Oh, and that Eric Spoelstra thing? Momma always said if you don't have anything nice to say...so we'll just mention his boyish good looks and move on.
Janie Campbell is a Florida native who believes in the pro-set and ballpark hot dogs. Her work has appeared in irreverent sports sites around the internet.