The period before the All-Star break for the Miami Heat, was, to be blunt pretty awful. It was not a golden time for a team who are pushing for the playoffs and has put a lot of pressure on the upcoming matches. Winning only two of their last twelve matches is something that is pretty embarrassing for team with the cache and goals of this Heat side.
In fairness some of the matches were very close, they were only points away from turning damaging losses into fantastic wins. The game against the Kings is the best example of this as the Heat only just lost by a single point. Those are the matches on which campaigns are defined. Just as demoralizing was the two point loss to the Cavs as well as another two point squeaker against the Magic.
The Heat then are by no means a disastrous side, they are just missing that bit of luck. They are rolling a five when they need a six, they are getting 22 rather than 21 in blackjack and they are one spin away from winning big at slots. Many frustrated fans are turning away from the Heat and playing a Basketball Star online slot game instead, it’s much more fun than seeing the team come so close and yet so far. Winning money playing slots is a damn sight better than watching a last minute basket snatch victory from the Heat once again.
The All-Star break then, arguably, came at a very important time for the Heat and allowed them to take stock, to consider how to move forward and how to continue a push towards the playoffs. Luckily this poor run has not ended the sides chances with the team right in the middle of the Eastern Conference and still with a winning record. The side clearly have quality, ability and also a sense of flair, but this needs to come out in full if they are going to take their place in the playoffs.
The next set of games then will be season defining, they will be the chance for the team to really stand up and be counted, and prove that they are a team that can compete when the pressure is on and the chips are down. The next five games are ones that the coach will have ringed, that he will have down as must wins, that he will see as games that can get the Heat back on track and back in the hunt.
This is because of those five games, several of them are against sides below the Heat in the standings of around the same level. They avoid sides that would be expected to beat them and take on team who they see as at their level or arguably even below it. First up, it’s the Pelicans, who are also eighth in their conference but they do have a slightly better record than the Heat. Even so, they are a team that Miami need to beat to get themselves right back on the playoff path.
Next up is the Grizzlies who are languishing 12th in the Western Conference. If you want to do well in the NBA, these are the teams you have to beat. You have to keep your foot on the pedal and not be weak against sides that are so far below you. The next test will be the 76ers, a side right above the Heat. If the Heat do manage to win their first two matches, they will be primed and ready to beat a side above them. To prove that they are better than their league position and that they can take on any task put in front of them.
These first three post break games are so crucial to the Heat, they are the chance to lay down a clear maker. After those, it’s the Lakers and then the Pistons, both of whom lie lower in their standings than the Heat. Again you have to beat the teams below and around you to achieve anything in this league.
For the Heat then the next couple of weeks are so important and the pressure will be so big. The inconsistency needs to stop and the players need to leave it all out on the court, and it will be wonderful to watch.