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Heat’s biggest need down the stretch is to stop squandering double-digit leads

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Multiple times this season the Heat lost games they should have won after building big second-half cushions.

NBA: Miami Heat at Detroit Pistons Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat were leading the Philadelphia 76ers 68-44 in the second half on Valentine’s Day, only to give the short-handed 76ers, without Joel Embiid, a present in the form of a 104-102 win.

This defensive meltdown wasn’t the only one, as the Heat defense checked out numerous times this season to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

In the Philadelphia game Miami’s defense allowed a stingy 20 points in the first quarter, and 19 in the second.

After halftime, the 76ers scored 34 points in the third, and 31 in the fourth with the same players.

If the Miami Heat hopes to secure a top-five seed by season’s end, the pattern of being in a mental fog on the defensive side disappoints Heat’s ticket holders.

The burden of implementing some discipline lies on the coaching staff, who should mandate their players not permitting any opponent to get over 22 points a quarter, in any quarter, and regardless of the score.

Having a definite and inflexible goal for each quarter instills the players with a sense of urgency for the moment, because accepting a 21-4 run shows bodies may be on the court, but their minds aren’t.

The rotations change during the game, and the contest has its ups and downs, for sure, but saying basketball is a game of runs by the coaches only justifies a paycheck.

In these last 24 games, when the seeding for a playoff spot is so important, the coaches may not be on the court to score baskets, yet they are on it through the strength of will of their players to hold opponents under 90 points a game, irrespective of how many points Miami puts on the board.

Comments are welcome on how to solve the “turd” quarter issue, or more generally, the frequent lapses where losing a double-digit lead results in a loss.