Coming into Mexico City, when the Miami Heat were losing at halftime, they staged a second-half rally only once. In that win, the Heat overcame a 49-37 deficit in Salt Lake City, to defeat the Utah Jazz 84-74 as reported by Surya Fernandez.
Playing at an even higher altitude, Mexico City's elevation is 7382' above sea level versus Salt Lake City's 4226', the Heat finally managed to win for just the second time in 11 tries, after trailing at half time.
For some reason, when playing at sea level MIami can't overcome first half deficits this season. Josh Richardson and Goran Dragic pointed out one factor in the Heat displaying more defensive intensity during the second half, via Tom D'Angelo.
Josh Richardson, who said he felt like his lungs “were about to explode,” and Dragic, who said it felt like he playing two games in one, both credited coach Erik Spoelstra for his substitution patterns. Spoelstra’s plan was to use his players in shorter burst to give them time to catch their breath. He used nine players in the game, none logging more than 32:05 or fewer than 19:56.
“It was good that he did that because I don’t think guys could have played their normal minutes,” Richardson said.
Playing against the offensively-challenged Grizzlies at Memphis' moderate 337' altitude, but using the same Mexico City approach of careful time management might help avoid the dreaded "turd" quarters and second-half loses Heat fans dread.
This season Miami squandered first-half leads in 4 out of their 14 games, i.e. the ones they held the lead at halftime. The Heat even managed to lose 2 out of the 13 games they were winning going into the fourth quarter, and never once overcoming a fourth quarter deficit in 11 tries.
Most players seem to appreciate a chance to get their second winds more often during a game, and come back in the game ready to rumble. The test would be to see if the managed minute approach works at sea level to provide the needed second-half spark to pull away in fourth quarters.