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Diego Quezada writes  for the Miami Heat blog, Leaving It All On The Court.  You can follow Diego on Twitter @leavingitall.

Miami Heat Mid-Season Review

The Miami Heat emerged as the most polarizing NBA team that has come around in a while. Three of the most coveted free agents decided to take their talents to South Beach, hoping to stockpile championships. Seemingly every sports fan had an opinion on the Heat, but this group of players would find out that they had their work cut out for them.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh each made a huge spectacle of their decisions last summer. Unfortunately, their diva acts continued onto the court. Too often, this team exuded a sense that they can win simply by showing up. It did not work well early on, as the Heat flirted with the .500 mark. The chorus of critics built up when Udonis Haslem suffered a potentially season-ending surgery. Miami lost the game Haslem got injured in and the two subsequent games, and ESPN’s Chris Broussard reported that Heat players were frustrated with Erik Spoelstra. The Heat were 9-8, with everyone – fans, former players, critics – wondering if this formula would simply not work.

Miami righted the ship, winning 21 of their next 22 games. Spoelstra found success splitting the point guard duties between Carlos Arroyo and Mario Chalmers, as opposed to playing Eddie House significant minutes. Wade and James began playing well off of each other, and the players started to buy into Spoelstra’s philosophy of help-and-recover defense. The Heat earned impressive wins over the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers over that time period, seemingly starting to build a team that looked like it could compete for a championship.

While the team was winning, some issues started to fester, however. This team knew that they could play just one half of good basketball and still win. Several times – including one bizarre game against the Washington Wizards – the team was able to survive. Soon enough, one team was going to beat them. That team was the Los Angeles Clippers, as the Heat fell behind by 20 in the first half and never fully recovered.

Moreover, Miami suffered injuries to James and Bosh recently. And now the Heat are mired in their first four-game losing skid of the season. I have confidence that Miami will turn it around and get on a roll, but Spoelstra needs to find a set rotation in time for the playoffs. The Heat also need to get something out of Mike Miller, who is the fourth-highest paid player on the team. These players have shown how good they can be earlier this season, but work remains.