If the Miami Heat want to be good, they'll have to go bad first.
The uber-talented yet underachieving team lost its second game in a row, and its third in four games, falling 112-107 last night at home to the Boston Celtics. It was the second loss the Celtics have handed their rivals this season and dropped the Heat to a 5-4 record.
Once thought to have a chance at winning 70 games, the Heat are now struggling to stay over .500. They've yet to find a reliable point guard or post presence, and the Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh is not playing at the level most expected by this point.
With no identity and so few wins, SI.com's Lee Jenkins suggests the Heat channel their inner bad guy and follow the blueprint of classic championship-winning bad boy teams like the Pistons and NFL Raiders. Rather than trying to be the heroes everyone wants them to be, Jenkins says the Heat should adopt an "us-against-the-world" mentality and start playing like the villains whom teams can't stand off the floor and can't beat on it.
Although the Heat are just nine games into the season, they do need to mix things up if they want to live up to expectations. As Jenkins points out, they've given up 184 points over their last six quarters and have lost two games this season with Eddie House taking the last shot, not one of the team's three superstars. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is preaching patience, but the team has little cap flexibility or tradeable assets to bolster the team.
So they'll have to improve from within, Jenkins says. Be the bad guys. Embrace the anger. Wear the black hat.
Following the Heat-Celtics game last night, Celtics star Paul Pierce took to his Twitter account to deliver the final blow. "It's been a pleasure to take my talents to South Beach," he tweeted, taking a jab at James' line from this summer.
Maybe that's enough to get them mad.
Here is some of the action going on around the sports world today (all times Eastern):
Portland Trailblazers at Oklahoma City Thunder (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
The Northwest Division-leading Blazers (6-3) hit the road to take on reigning scoring champ Kevin Durant (28.1 ppg) and the Thunder (4-3).
No. 4 Boise State Broncos at Idaho Vandals (9 p.m., ESPN2)
After racking up a school-record 732 yards of offense last Saturday, undefeated Boise State travels to take on Idaho, which gave up 844 yards of their own in a 63-17 loss to Nevada last week.
BY THE NUMBERS
$33,000 - Amount Kentucky freshman center Enes Kanter received from a Turkish club during the 2008-09 season. The NCAA ruled Kanter permanently ineligible to play for the Wildcats on Thursday, but Kentucky is expected to appeal the decision.
18-1 - Record of the Atlanta Falcons at home with quarterback Matt Ryan as the team's starter. The Falcons defeated the Baltimore Ravens at home Thursday night, 26-21.
2011 - Year action sports star Travis Pastrana will compete in NASCAR's second-tier Nationwide series. Pastrana, who has won 16 gold medals in the X games, will run seven Nationwide races next season and 20 in 2012.