That dream died fast.
For a while, we did our best to cover for the Lakers' shortcomings, pointing out the flaws the 2011-12 Miami Heat had with teamwork and chemistry before they really hit their stride and eventually made it to the 2012 NBA Finals.
Skip ahead another few weeks, and we were standing on shaky ground, pointing at injuries, a new head coach and as many other factors as we could to explain what was happening to the Lakers.
The truth was right in front of us the whole time, however. This team just isn't well put together.
On the surface, these teams are incredibly different. Just look at how they performed on the court, and you can see that plainly.
Through 51 games, the Heat were 37-14. Los Angeles is 24-27. If the Lakers were to go undefeated for the rest of the season, they would still finish with three fewer wins than the Heat.
The Heat had already put together winning streaks of three, four, nine and 12 games. Los Angeles' longest streak of the season is five wins, eclipsed by a six-game losing streak to start the 2013 portion of the schedule. Miami lost four straight as its worst losing streak in the first 51 games and had a five-game losing streak as its worst of the season.
Erik Spoelstra coached a team that scored 102.1 points per game and gave up 94.6. Mike D'Antoni has a team that scores well at 101.9 points per game but also gives up 100.6.
What's most interesting, however, is that the narrative following each team is similar, with one fewer controversy to work out along the way.
Miami was built around the best player in the NBA playing alongside his longtime rival, who both happen to be incredible wing players. There wasn't a post congestion issue—there was just a "who gets the ball when" issue.
Los Angeles has had to deal with the issues of who is the primary ball-handler (which Miami had between LeBron and Dwyane Wade), who is the primary post player (it was always Bosh for the Heat, Howard came ahead in Los Angeles) and who is going to be the coach of the future.
That coaching caveat is probably one of the most intriguing parts of this 2012 Heat, 2013 Lakers comparison.
Miami took the approach that Erik Spoelstra was going to be the head coach for good, no matter the in-season struggles and playoff outcomes. He had the job, and Pat Riley wasn't taking it away.
On the other hand, the Lakers came into the season openly committed to Mike Brown and the Princeton offense, which was abandoned after five games. A wishy-washy coach search yielded Mike D'Antoni seemingly out of spite Jim Buss had for Phil Jackson.
At this point, after the Lakers spent the first two weeks of the season killing off any reason we would have to take what the front office says as honesty, there's no way to look at their opinions of D'Antoni and take them for face value.
Buss might want to sing his praises during a win streak, Mitch Kupchak might publicly say that D'Antoni is the head coach of the future and the team might back him, but everything we hear out of Los Angeles has to be taken with a grain of salt.
Where Miami's front office was a pillar of confidence for what it had built, Los Angeles' has been a pillar of Jell-o on a windy day.
While there's chemistry developing between the Los Angeles players, the only difference is that the Lakers have a few more "me first" style players compared to Miami, where the main problem was the timidness between LeBron and Wade not to step on each other's toes.
The Lakers have had more complicated issues to work out in comparison to the Heat of 2012, but the issue isn't that they've had more problems to work out—it's that they've done a worse job fixing the problems presented to them.
At this point, the Lakers look more like the 2000 Houston Rockets built around the old versions of Hakeem Olajuwon, Scottie Pippen and Charles Barkley, which finished 31-19 and lost in the first round of the playoffs, rather than the 2012 Miami Heat.
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