The Miami Heat won seven games in a row when they faced the Chicago Bulls on Jan. 15, 2018. Tyler Johnson went down on a play near the basket, and hasn’t been the same then. Neither has Miami, with four wins and seven losses after that happened.
With one All-Star, missing even a single key player can wreck immense damage to the chances of Miami making the playoffs. For one reason or another, the Heat are replicating the same approach that lead to last season’s 41-41 finish.
The status of some memebers of Miami’s roster:
- A.J. Hammons - G-League
- Dion Waiters - injured
- Okaro White - injured
- Rodney McGruder - injured
- Udonis Haslem - out of rotation
- Jordan Mickey - out of rotation
That leaves 9 rotation players, when they’re all healthy and at 100% efficiency. Reality is Miami doesn’t have a “Big 3” or even “Medium-Sized 3” to carry the load when a Hassan Whiteside is out, Tyler Johnson plays hurt, or Wayne Ellington is blanketed.
Looking back at the last dominant victory versus the Milwaukee Bucks, 97-79, there was a pattern in that success.
The Heat had a game plan where they knew their unfair advantage at the rim and exploited it fully. In Miami’s losses there hasn’t been a clear and precise unstoppable point of attack at the enemies most glaring weaknesses. The usual mantra is “try harder.”
Versus the Bucks, Miami isolated Giannis Antetokounmpo and took away his ability to empower his teammates. Milwaukee had a total of 9 assists as Heat forced the Bucks into taking difficult shots, and feasted on the weak bench unit.
On the Heat’s side, James Johnson had 8 assists and 4 points, and the rest of the starters 3 assists and 70 points on 25 of 43 shooting. This copied last season’s formula of a facilitator dishing out easy baskets to his mates on the floor.
Having multiple ball handlers sounds good in theory, but doesn’t translate to success in real life. In the Bucks game and last night’s game versus the Detroit Pistons, Goran Dragic’s role should be as a scorer, not facilitator.
Having Hammons in G-League, Mickey and Haslem glued to the bench robs the Heat of the essential depth it needs to get reach the playoffs, especially for the times when Miami has only seven healthy players available for a game.
With the Houston Rockets, and playoff rivals Bucks, Raptors, 76ers coming up, losses to those teams could drop the Heat to 8th place or even the lottery behind the Pistons.