The Miami Heat opened 2021 with a whimper, losing 93-83 to the Dallas Mavericks that kept them winless on the road even with the welcome return of Jimmy Butler.
Unable to find an early spark, Miami fell behind early and could never get into any rhythm, with the team unable to overcome a lethal combination of historically bad 3-point shooting, turnovers, and very little offensively from the starting trio of Butler, Duncan Robinson and Andre Iguodala. They had no answer for Luka Doncic (27 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists), who helped lead the Mavs to an early lead that they would continue to pad throughout the game. There was little ball movement and energy to find quality shots in rhythm. They continued to rack up turnovers themselves, continuing their theme for this season, while the defense didn’t force Mavs turnovers that could have helped spark an earlier comeback run.
The Heat set a franchise record of 14 consecutive missed 3-point attempts to begin the game before finally knocking down one in the third quarter, but the damage by then was done. Dallas played quality defense for sure, but Miami had decent looks at the rim and many of these shots (particularly Robinson’s) could have gone in during any other game.
After scoring just 31 points in the first half (not the first quarter), they were able to chip away at the lead with runs in the third and fourth quarter — notably late in the game led by Avery Bradley (15 points) that was able to cut the lead to single digits in crunch time but it was too little too late. Had the team perhaps been able to play with that kind of urgency earlier in the game, it would have turned out differently. Ultimately, the game was still out of reach in the closing minutes even though Miami ended up outscoring Dallas 30-20 in the final quarter.
Bam Adebayo was one of the Heat’s few bright spots with 19 points, 11 rebounds and four steals. Tyler Herro was the only other Heat starter to score in double-figures with 11 points as Butler, Robinson and Iguodala combined to score 10 points on 2-19 shooting. Butler, who went 0-6 from the field was largely invisible as he apparently works his way back to 100%. It wasn’t only him though, with the team shooting just 29-78 (37.2%) overall and 7-33 (21.2%) from deep.
The Heat next host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Jan. 4 at 7:30pm.