L.A. Lakers and Miami Heat: 2 Teams Headed in Opposite Directions?

The Miami Heat are reeling, and while a win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night may restore some confidence, it will take more than a single victory to stop the bleeding.

The Heat were looking at their current home stand as a means to establish themselves as the East's most dominant team, but instead a season-high five-game losing streak has them looking up to the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls in the conference.

It gets worse.

Miami is a combined 0-6 against the Celtics and Bulls, and although the Heat did split the season series with Orlando, the Magic are gaining momentum and are now only two games behind Miami in their division.

In a recent interview after Miami's latest loss to Portland, forward LeBron James said the Heat can use the Lakers game to turn their season around or continue their losing ways, but it may not be as simple as that.

There are numerous theories as to why Miami has only managed to win one game against the NBA's top six teams. The most common threads seem to center on an inability to execute on the offensive end late in games and defensive lapses when it matters the most.

Of the two explanations, the defensive theory may be more correct because James and Dwyane Wade have proven that they are more than capable of carrying the Heat offensively.

However, it's not as easy to explain the Heat's inability to defend during certain stretches, although most fingers have been pointed at the team's interior players and the point guard position.

The recent signing of Mike Bibby was supposed to help the Heat with offensive execution late in games but it has only highlighted the need for a competent defender at the position.

Bibby has not had time to be fully initiated into the Heat's system, but when he has been on the court, he has been exposed defensively, and his outside shooting has not emerged as a weapon.

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