If the Miami Heat are to be a part of the postseason this year, then February could be the deciding month for Erik Spoelstra’s team as the race for the playoffs truly starts to take shape. With just three games separating the Heat in the seventh seed from the ninth seed Washington Wizards, the margin for errors has become thinner than ever.
The Heat is set to play twelve games this month, with seven games coming on the road. This, of course, is after the team has seen out the final two games of its current homestand against Oklahoma City Thunder and the Indiana Pacers. With just five games at home all month, the team needs to start on the right foot by claiming two big wins before setting off on their travels.
After the Heat has wrapped up the two remaining games at the AmericanAirlines Arena, they hit the road for a six-game road trip starting with the Portland Trail Blazers and ending against Eastern Conference rival Philadelphia 76ers. During the road trip, the Heat will face five teams currently above the .500 mark, which doesn’t sit well given Miami is 8-14 against teams with a winning record.
Miami faces the Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors, Denver Nuggets, Dallas Mavericks, and the Sixers, and (with the exception that they will face the Warriors for the first time this season) the Heat’s record against the teams mentioned isn’t pretty. The team is 1-5 against the opposition they face during the six-game trip, with the only win coming against Portland back in October, largely thanks to a big 36-point game from Goran Dragic.
Something that’s worth noting however is that the Heat are one of just eight NBA teams who boast a winning road record, which will give much-needed confidence despite the tough task ahead. There is, of course, the All-Star game in Charlotte which falls in between the final two games against the Mavericks and Sixers which will provide the team a chance to regroup during the grueling period on the road.
Once the team has recovered from their time away from home, Miami will have a three-game homestand facing the Detroit Pistons, Phoenix Suns and Golden State. The team’s record when facing Detroit and Phoenix this year is 2-1, so this will be the best opportunity for coach Spoelstra’s team to improve the very poor 11-14 losing home record.
In the final game of the month, Heat will travel back out west as they take on the Houston Rockets. Miami has already beaten the Rockets once this season, thanks to a 101-99 win at the AAA in December which saw big games from Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson, and Derrick Jones Jr.
As a whole, February is set to be one that will give the team and fans a chance to see what will be required heading towards the final months of the regular season, but the odds are sure to be stacked against the Heat. Maximum effort from all players is a must, which has to start instantly even if the team is without the injured Derrick Jones Jr. and Goran Dragic, as any slump in form could prove costly in the hunt to secure a playoff spot.
As mentioned there are just three games separating the Heat and the Washington Wizards who occupied the ninth seed, so you can’t help but feel the month of February could potentially be the difference between postseason basketball or an earlier than planned summer break. Even if the team is notorious for coming up big down the stretch, Miami has to start now!
Can the Heat strengthen their playoff hopes in February?
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