You can almost feel the tidal wave of disappointment and furor and scrutiny forming.
You can practically see an entire community of basketball fans hovering over the panic button ready to press.
You can actually see Dan Gilbert wringing his hands in diabolical pleasure.
This Heat team that wasn't supposed to lose two games in a row all year just lost three of four, including two in a row at home.
This Heat team that was supposed to be relying on its defense while its offense caught up has given up 196 points over the past 77 minutes of basketball (that's about 31 points per 12 minutes).
This Heat team that was supposed to challenge the Celtics for superiority in the Eastern Conference has been handled twice by those Celtics and at 5-4 is closer to the Pacers, Cavaliers and Bucks than it is to the top of the conference.
If someone would've predicted before the season that the Heat would start off with this record, which included back-to-back home losses, you probably would've assumed some drastic change was on the way.
Even though every single aspect of the Heat's four losses can be explained away in some fashion, and even though all four of them have been, technically, close at the end, this is about as disappointing a start as this team could've envisioned. The Super Friends weren't supposed to fail this much this fast. Especially not when the most recent failure, Thursday's loss to the Celtics in which Boston absolutely dissected the Heat, came after a devastating overtime loss to the Jazz that was supposed to be a perfectly timed wakeup call.
Instead, it was as if the Heat slapped the snooze button.
``No one said this was supposed to be easy,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Except, a lot of people said exactly that. Enough, that is, for a lot of us to believe it would be. Certainly a lot easier than it has been.
It's safe to say nothing is going to happen as was expected for this Heat team, at least not this early.
What we expected to see Thursday -- two days after the Heat blew a 22-point lead, one day after the Heat had an intense day of reflection and just 16 days after getting trounced in Boston on opening night -- was a desperate, angry team that played with enough passion to make up for the fact that the parts are still trying to find their places.
What we actually saw was a Heat team getting schooled from the very start.
We saw Chris Bosh so used to being a spectator in his new role that he didn't even expect a pass from Dwyane Wade on what had been a perfectly executed pick-and-roll.
We saw Wade stand with his hands on his hips about 10 feet away from a scorching hot Ray Allen and appear surprised when the inbounds pass found Allen and his scorching hands in the corner for a three.
We saw LeBron James essentially take over the game and almost record a second triple-double in a row but mix in an airball on one wide-open three-pointer and hit the side of the backboard on another three, the second of which would've narrowed the Heat's deficit to four points with one minute remaining.
About the only player who responded exactly how we would've expected was captain Udonis Haslem.
Spoelstra and his players have been talking about this ``process'' it takes to meld this talent together. But even they probably didn't think that would require a 5-4 start and include this much frustration.
We're nine games into this team's most anticipated season of basketball, and the gratification hasn't nearly been instant enough to keep everyone happy. Four losses in nine games won't keep anyone happy.
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