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Final Recap: Heat defense fails team again

Miami lost a close road game at Washington, and it was defense that ultimately cost them the game as the team's brilliant offense couldn't mount yet another comeback.

LeBron and the Heat are playing with offensive wizardry, and will win most games regardless, but the defense is still lagging.
LeBron and the Heat are playing with offensive wizardry, and will win most games regardless, but the defense is still lagging.

The Washington Wizards are really, really bad at putting the basketball in the hoop.

The Miami Heat's defense came to town though, so for a night, they looked good.

It may not have looked like the Wizards lit the Heat up, as opposed to simply a good offensive game, when they shot 48 percent from the field, 37 percent from 3-point distance on 19 attempts and scored 105 points, but for this offense, that's a masterful performance as the Wizards beat the Heat 105-101.

The Wizards came into this game last in the NBA in Offensive Rating. Meaning that per 100 possessions, Washington scores the least points in the league. They're 30th out of 30 teams at this. They had only scored over 100 points three times in 14 games this season. Part of this is because they are missing John Wall, their best player, but as constituted, they are terrible offensively.

They met a good match tonight against the Heat's defense. Among the ten worst defenses in the league coming into their 16th game, the Heat continued to display lazy rotations and a lack of urgency on that side of the floor.

Offense, on the other hand, comes as easy to Miami as money comes into Jeffrey Loria's pockets. They can simply go out on the floor, without any playcalling from Erik Spoelstra, and drop 100. It's naturally more fun to play that side of the floor, and the Heat players came into the season with an added emphasis on it with the addition of Ray Allen and the versatile prospects of their roster.

But they simply aren't very concerned with closing out hard on shooters and asserting themselves enough to consistently avoid basic breakdowns like ball watching and defending with your head instead of your legs.

How much this matters, right now, varies between very little and nothing. The 72-win Bulls of 1995-96 lost to a 21-61 Toronto Raptors team that season.

The Heat's 2011-12 championship team actually lost to the Wizards twice last season. The single loss is a forgettable game that will soon fade out of our memory.

The Heat's defensive output at the moment? It's still only 16 games worth of play, and for a team with such a strong defensive track record, they still deserve the benefit of the doubt that this will come together. But as the games mount, if it does continue, it will be a detriment to defending a championship. Not that they can't win it all, but it would hurt the chances of it.

Watching the game, this doesn't strike me as a coaching or philosophy issue. Sure, Spo can make some tweaks. But these players know what to do, and they aren't exerting themselves. |

This might be as simple as a great team coasting through a long season that will lock down in the playoffs. It's almost certain the Heat's defense will rise with playoff intensity, but how much? Would they be able to overcome a season's worth of bad habits in the postseason?

I'll leave it up to you to decide how much this matters right now. I think very little, the the fact is the team isn't playing good defense, let alone great Miami Heat defense.