With the virtual implosion of the Miami Dolphins, sports fans in the Miami area are likely to look elsewhere for solace. Turning their noses at football, they look towards another sport – basketball. Unfortunately for these fans, the Miami Heat aren’t doing much better than the Miami Dolphins. Still, on the bright side, the Heat at least won’t go winless.

The Heat’s struggles have been in doubt since last season: What happened to make this once hot team so cold? Well, no one can know for sure, but we offer the following possibilities.

Dwayne Wade has still not been the same again:

After missing part of last season due to injury, the return of Dwayne Wade seemed like the spark the Heat needed. Almost, but not quite. In the past two seasons, Wade has averaged more than 27 points per game; this season, he’s averaging just 20. Sure, 20 is still a good average, but it’s not up to the standard Dwayne Wade is known for. He is also averaging fewer rebounds and fewer assists.

Shaquille O’Neal is no longer a dominant force:

There was a time when the man known as Shaq seemed nearly unstoppable: If he had the ball, he scored (well, as long as he wasn’t on the free throw line). These days, that’s not always the case. Part of this is because Shaq, in basketball terms, has gotten old; the other reason is that he is always well protected. Without him to score as many points or, more importantly, grab as many rebounds, the Heat can’t help but feel hurt.

No one shoots from outside… at least not well:

With Dwayne Wade driving down the lane and Shaquille O’Neal shooting from inside, the Miami Heat have no outside shooters. They no longer have James Posey or Jason Kapono. In short, they have trouble making 3-pointers. This hurts them even more when they try to come from behind. Having good outside shooters is essential to being a good team.

Last year still haunts them:

Last year, to put it mildly, was a disappointment for the Miami Heat. They didn’t even break even on their record until March; they started slow and finished worse, being swept by Chicago in the first round of the NBA playoffs. It was a championship hangover in the broadest sense of the term.

turnovers, turnovers, turnovers:

Yep, you guessed it: Miami tends to turn the ball over. In their recent loss to the Boston Celtics, Miami gave it up 24 times. Any team that has that many turnovers in a game can also give up and simply become a bakery.

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