The Miami Heat’s quest for a three-peat has been a challenge, to say the least. And the Playoffs haven’t even begun yet. LeBron James admits that this is the most challenging season he’s endured in South Beach since joining the Heat in 2011. Per the Palm Beach Post:

“It’s the toughest season we’ve had since Year 1 just because of everything that comes with it,” said LeBron James, who fought through back spasms to put together 15 points, seven assists and six rebounds. “Just going out every night where you’re the target and everyone gets up for you and we have to find our own motivation every single night. It’s not always about our opponent. It’s about ourselves, too.

“It’s been a challenge this season, but we look forward to the next challenge, which is tomorrow. We’ll be ready when it all gets going.”

Can the Heat beat Indiana, which was good enough to take them to seven games in last year’s conference finals? And if they do, are they still good enough to take down Oklahoma City, San Antonio or whatever other monster emerges from the cutthroat West?

There is no clear answer to that. Just a few days ago, Dwyane Wade said he was unsure what this team really had. And he certainly cannot guarantee how it will handle the rigors of the playoffs.

“We don’t know,” he said (Saturday night). “None of us knows. We’re not gonna be the same team. Last year we was top 10 in defense and we’re below that this year. We’re gonna have to do it different this year. With the way we’re playing, we’re gonna have to figure it out if we want to be holding that trophy.

“You’re gonna go through bumps in the road and we’re not above that, no matter how many Finals we’ve gone to. Hopefully these struggles are lessons for our team and we’re learning from these lessons.”