The regular season means nothing.
Not for this team. Never has, never will.
Think back to last season. Had the Heat not been in the middle of an unbelievable 27 game winning streak, would they really have been selling out for a March 6th game against the Magic (one point win)? Probably not. What about the 27 point comeback against Cleveland? Would that have happened sans win streak? Doubtful.
So when you look at this season, when the Heat have really nothing to play for except one extra home game (which Indiana seems like they're willing to give up while the Heat continue to coast), dropping four of five to really good teams doesn't seem so ridiculous.
The Heat are just 1-4 in their last five games, and yet they still sit 8.5 games up on Toronto for the #3 seed, and are just one game back in the loss column of Indiana, who is looking to go wire to wire in the #1 spot.
The Pacers play a majority of their remaining games on the road, where they are just 17-13 this season. The Heat play a majority of their remaining games at home, where they are 25-5. Just sayin'.
Still, losing four of five isn't exactly ideal, especially when the lone win is against a Wizards team the Heat were supposed to beat.
Following a victory against the Charlotte Bobcats on March 3rd, where some guy scored 61 points, the Heat had to travel to Houston to play the Rockets on the 2nd night of a back to back. Playing against Houston, in Houston (26-7 at home), is difficult to begin with, let alone after playing the night before and following such an emotional night for the Heat.
Two nights after that, the Heat had to travel to San Antonio for a Finals rematch with the Spurs. To say this game didn't go the way the Heat had hoped would be an understatement. The Spurs led by 15 after one, and while the Heat made it close, they got outscored 29-13 in the 4th. That 4th quarter against the Spurs was the most exhausted I'd ever seen this Heat team look. LeBron finished just 6-18 from the floor and turned the ball over 5 times, which is very un-LeBron like.
And then, if those two tough games weren't enough, the Heat had to travel to Chicago for a Sunday matchup with the Bulls. I don't really care what anybody says, the Bulls play harder against the Heat. It's a fact. LeBron struggled again, shooting just 9-23 this time, and Joakim Noah did Joakim Noah things (20-12-7 with 5 blocks) to catapult the Bulls to an overtime victory.
*Heat beat the Wizards, nothing to see here*
And then Wednesday night's game against the Nets happened. Paul Pierce, of course, went for 29 on 9-12 shooting. The Heat had the ball, down 1, with about 3 seconds to play. Chris Bosh found LeBron on a perfect duck in for what would've been an easy layup, except Shaun Livingston managed to get himself around LeBron and deflected the pass. Heat lose by 1.
In Miami's four losses, LeBron is shooting just 29 for 72, which is just over 40%. For the season, he's shooting 57%. I wouldn't expect that to continue much longer, and certainly not in to the playoffs.
There are some concerns. Ray Allen has turned in to a human this season, shooting just 36% from deep, while his career average is 40%. While 36% is still good, it's not what we've come to expect from Ray Allen. Still, Allen has been good enough for long enough that I think it's unfair to count him out yet.
Shane Battier has been struggling with his shot as well, shooting 34% from deep compared to 43% last season. Battier still has plenty of value, even if his shot isn't falling, in that he's still an excellent defender who provides the Heat with a lot of versatility on that end of the floor.
Sports are random sometimes.
Against the Bulls, a shot clock malfunction (look, there's no way Noah got that off in 0.9 seconds. None. Sorry) allowed the Bulls to get close enough to send the game to OT. Against the Nets, if Livingston doesn't make a ridiculous play with his incredibly long arms, the Heat probably win by one. Chris Bosh was just 1-5 for 5 points against the Rockets, which ain't exactly normal.
If even two of those three things go the Heat's way, they're 3-2 in their last five instead of 1-4, and I'm probably not writing this article.
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- Big 3 shine down the stretch for HEAT victory 99-90 against Wizards