On Sunday night, it was defined as whether the Heat would enjoy the biggest win in franchise history.
Chris Bosh scored 20 of his 24 points in the first half, and the Heat improved to 5-0 for the first time by rolling past the Bobcats 129-90. The 129 points is the most scored by any NBA team so far this season and the 39-point victory margin matched the third-largest in Heat history, four shy of the team mark.
"I think we're where we should be," Dwyane Wade said. "I think we're only going to get better."
Wade scored 22 points and LeBron James, Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole all scored 16 for the Heat, who ran out to an 18-point lead after one quarter and held a 46-point lead at one point in the fourth.
DJ White scored 21 points and Kemba Walker finished with 17 for Charlotte, which lost its seventh straight regular-season meeting against Miami.
"Tonight was a night," Bobcats' guard Corey Maggette said, "where we just did not get it done."
The Heat needed a game-winner from Wade with 2.9 seconds left to win at Charlotte on Wednesday night.
No such heroics were necessary this time. In fact, it took a falling-down three-pointer from Walker — while getting fouled — with 3:26 left to get Charlotte back within 40 points.
"Just one of those games where nothing went right," Charlotte coach Paul Silas said.
White made all eight of his shots in the first half for the Bobcats. The rest of Charlotte's starters in the first 24 minutes shot a staggering 3 for 22, including an 0 for 7 from D.J. Augustin and 0 for 6 from Maggette.
So in control was Miami that James — who got engaged to longtime girlfriend Savannah Brinson as his New Year's highlight — wasn't even an offensive factor in the first half. His first field goal of the game came on a layup with 48 seconds remaining before intermission, and by then the Heat lead was 63-37.
"We came into the game tonight trying to play with a heightened sense of athleticism," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "I was encouraged by our ability to concentrate, even as we got the lead."
Chalmers made all four of his shots from three-point range, Cole scored his 16 points in 20 minutes, and Miami held huge edges in fast-break points (30-11) and points in the paint (58-38).
"We wanted a complete effort," Bosh said. "I think we got it."
Bosh controlled the play early, scoring nine of Miami's first 15 points, the last of those being an alley-oop dunk off a feed from Chalmers for an 11-point Heat lead. And with that, it was a total turnaround from the game in Charlotte last week, where Miami quickly got into an 11-0 hole and needed to scratch and claw all the way to the finish.
On Sunday, Spoelstra had the luxury of giving his starters plenty of time off in the fourth quarter, with the added bonus there being a few extra minutes to rest up for a visit from Atlanta (3-1) on Monday night. Every Miami starter spent at least 18 minutes on the bench.
"Guys had fresh legs and guys were very responsible last night with the new year coming in," James said.
Before the game, Silas said he thought Walker was "a little tired" as the rookie got used to the NBA grind.
Walker might not have been alone with that issue.
Besides White, no other Charlotte starter reached double figures in scoring. Maggette is now 1-for-16 shooting in two games against Miami this season. Augustin finished 1 for 11, the worst shooting night of his career when trying at least 10 shots. Combined, Charlotte's starters grabbed 14 rebounds, which was four more than what Bosh collected by himself.
"We're all going to take the load off every night for each other. That's what great teams do," Bosh said. "It was just a good night."
NOTES: It was Miami's second wire-to-wire win of the year, the first being the season-opening victory on Christmas at Dallas. ... The Heat are now 5-0 on New Year's Day games. Charlotte is 0-3. ... Wade became the 25th active player with 14,000 career points. ... Charlotte C Boris Diaw passed the 8,000-minute mark in his Bobcats career. ... When James plays, his teams are now 22-5 against the Bobcats. ... The Heat have won 12-of-15 games all-time at home against Charlotte.