The Heat had the deck stacked against them heading into this game. The Spurs were pretty much at full strength, with a 7-3 record and hosted the Heat without Goran Dragic. And while the Heat got off to a rough start, they never threw in the towel.
The Spurs, however, were just a little too much to handle and they won the game, 94-90.
With the loss, the Heat fall to 2-7 on the season and have another game the very next night in Atlanta against the Hawks.
— Game Summary —
The Heat were to a rough start allowing the Spurs a double digit lead in the first quarter. They closed well, but the first half was owned by the Spurs. They led by as many as 18 points and were up 15 at halftime. The second half began to show the heart and resiliency of the Heat. They were much more active and energetic in the third quarter. It didn’t produce much of a separation from the Spurs, but the effort was there. And then in the 4th quarter, the Heat tightened up even more and cut the Spurs lead all the way down to 4 points with just under 2 minutes to play. But from there, the Spurs made more plays than the Heat and Miami couldn’t close the gap.
All in all, the second half was a positive showing for the Heat. But there are no moral victories in the NBA. The Heat dug themselves far too much of a hole against one of the best teams in the NBA, and it cost them.
— The Difference —
That could be found in the ball movement. The Spurs most lethal weapon was the ability to swing the ball. This wasn’t 2014 NBA Finals ball movement, but it was enough to get open jumpers. The Heat had trouble containing penetration and then the Spurs didn’t force it at the rim much. They just kicked it back out. LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol got plenty, I mean plenty of open looks from the perimeter and they made the Heat pay for it.
The Heat, on the other hand, played a lot of one-on-one basketball. Dion Waiters, Justise Winslow, Tyler Johnson...they were all forced at times to just make something happen for the Heat instead of running an actual offense. The Heat didn’t have a lot of open shots and that made a big difference over the coarse of the game.
— Other Observations —
:: Justise Winslow is really struggling in any role to be “the guy” on the offensive end. He seems confident at times when he pulls up to shoot, but he isn’t making them. And then there are times he just doesn’t know how to get to the right spot. It’s concerning, and maybe that’s why Dion Waiters is being asked to do more. Tonight, Winslow had 7 points on 3-12 shooting. Waiters had 27 points on 12-26 shooting.
:: Hassan Whiteside continues to put up big numbers but isn’t impacting the game like $22 million should. Tonight he had 23 points and 17 rebounds, but they can’t dump the ball down to him and expect him to score. He is getting his baskets on broken plays mostly. And defensively, he was a big part of the reason that Aldridge and Gasol played so well tonight, too. He, as well as the team, packed the paint and left the shooters open. He needs to make a bigger impact.
:: The Heat are still searching for an identity, rotation and clearly defined roles. They have talent, but it seems as though the offense is struggling to know where to go play to play. They need to figure this out soon. The Spurs defense doesn’t make it easy, but the Heat sooner than later need to make improvements in their identity.