The Miami Heat had high hopes when the season started. With the team’s core back and reinforced by solid additions to the roster, Miami looked set to capitalize on its second half success during the 2016-2017 season. The Heat owned the second-best record (30-11) in that period. Contrary to the team expectations, the Miami Heat struggled out of the gates, posting a disappointing 7-9 win-loss record.

Still a good defensive team?

While this Miami Heat team has proven that it can string consecutive wins as the team has done this last season, the early struggles are thought puzzling since the Heat has remained a very good defensive team this season.

That being said, Miami fans are concerned about the team’s performance especially since the team had a relatively easy schedule through its first 16 games.

Defensively, the Heat holds its opponent to 44.4 percent shooting and only eight teams are better than Miami in this department. The team also allows their opponents to make just 37.4 field goals, good enough for the eight spot. Looking at these two key statistics, even the casual NBA fans would realize that the Miami Heat has retained its stature as one of the better defensive teams in the NBA.

So if Miami is good defensively, why are they still losing games? Looking at the stats, one glaring weakness of this Heat team is its inability to defend the three.

Through 16 games this season, Miami has allowed its opponents to score 37.5 percent behind the arc, ranking the Heat 21st in the league.

Again, if the Miami Heat is defending relatively well, why is the team performing more poorly than the experts’ projections? This is especially confusing since the team’s chemistry is supposed to be better this year.

Offensive struggles

The likely answer to Miami’s struggles can be found on the offensive end. And to be blunt, the Heat isn’t faring well on offense. This may be surprising to Miami Heat fans as Goran Dragic, the reigning EuroBasket 2017 MVP, looks as sharp as he did last season. Same goes for Dion Waiters, Hassan Whiteside, James Johnson, and the rest of the Heat.

Again, looking at the statistics, Miami turns the ball over 16.6 times, ranking them 26th in the league in turnovers per game. Opponents are scoring 18.7 points per game on these turnovers, ranking the Heat 23rd in the NBA. Miami scores 100.3 points per game, ranking the team 25th in the league. Their field goal percentage places the team 19th while their three-point percentage puts them at the 20th spot. Again, for a team loaded with multiple players who can score 20 or more points on any given night, Miami’s overall ranking on offense is baffling.

More troubling for Miami is the fact that they are getting outplayed almost consistently in the second half of games. Miami Heat co-captain Udonis Haslem insists that there is no reason to panic even with the early season struggle.

Haslem states that the team is “physically” fine.

And fine they should be. According to Haslem, the team has to "sustain intensity and focus for 48 minutes." It doesn’t take a genius to see that Haslem is talking about the team’s inconsistent play. It also doesn’t take a genius to know that Miami has talented players. These players, while not the traditional superstars the other teams have, know how to play together. And when they get their acts together, the Heat can still cause havoc in the playoffs.

The Miami Heat has a proven coach in Erik Spoelstra and a group of really good players (again, not superstars), this is true. The Miami Heat is struggling in the second half of these games, this is also true.

That the Miami Heat season is now lost and should push the panic button and just start rebuilding, this is not true. Judging by the way this team fought back last season, it is not a good bet to sell this team short. So hide that big red panic button, at least for the moment.

What's next for the Miami Heat?

The Miami Heat faces the league-leading Boston Celtics at home in their next assignment. The Heat then embarks on a four-game road trip that will include stops in Minnesota, Chicago, Cleveland, and the rejuvenated New York Knicks.