What a past week for the Miami Heat. After slowly getting their star player back after a long absence with the Health and Safety protocols, the Heat found themselves with new injuries to Goran Dragic and others.
After two tough battles with the Brooklyn Nets, the Heat have dropped 4 out of 5 at home, sit at 7-14 on the season, and are in great danger. Here are a couple of things we have learned about Miami that you may have noticed.
#1 — The Heat cannot survive without Jimmy Butler
When he came back and scored 30 points in the win over the Kings, it was glaringly obvious the type of difference Butler makes. Sure, the Heat can win without him, but they need to play near-perfect basketball to do so. With Butler, he slows the game down, creates fouls, and allows for easier opportunities for everyone.
Without Butler, the Heat are not much of a threat to a talented team. Even to the bottom-feeders, Miami is vulnerable. This is sad because last season the Heat survived OK without Butler in his misses. This year, they need him for stabilization.
With the record the Heat have, they won’t be able to withstand another long absence by Jimmy Butler if he wore to get hurt. The Heat does not have much room for error moving forward. Even with Butler, the Heat don’t seem to be very good.
#2 — There’s clearly something missing for this team (and we know what it is)
That is painfully obvious — and it is something that is a growing concern among the fanbase. I’m sure Miami would like to have a full complement of players to really see where they fall, but we don’t know that this will ever happen.
You could make the argument that Paul Pierce has that Miami is missing out on the grit and grind that made them successful in the bubble and I don’t know if many people would argue with you. There seems to be a lack of fire or passion to winning and winning plays right now and that is unfortunate.
But the two most glaring holes are 1) defensively and, 2) a suitable PF next to Bam Adebayo. The Heat have just given opponents way too much this year. That was obvious as the Milwaukee Bucks set an NBA record by making 29 three against them back in December. And it was again painfully obvious when De’Aaron Fox carved them up for most of the fourth quarter the other night. And again as Devonte’ Graham and Malik Monk just took over clutch moments in Miami.
Those kinds of things can’t happen to really good teams. Sure, from time to time that’s going to happen. But it seems like every night someone is just carving up the Heat and making the defense look helpless. There’s a problem with the Heat’s defense and they need to figure it out.
Secondly, you know that Miami’s off-season plan was to pair Bam with another talented big, but that didn’t plan out. Those guys signed big money elsewhere. And so the Heat have kept their core and the likes of Kelly Olynyk, Moe Harkless, and Meyers Leonard aren’t cutting it. Bam needs a multi-talented player next to him in the frontcourt so he isn’t left to do everything on both ends. This is clearly something missing from this team.
Buyouts, trades, something needs to happen to allow Miami to acquire someone who can pair next to Bam. Until that happens, the Heat will have to live with the streaky shooting of Kelly Olynyk.
#3 — Erik Spoelstra has no clue what the best lineup or rotation is for this team
And neither do we. We have seen every type of lineup the Heat can throw. Max Strus has played clutch minutes and a DNP-CD. Kendrick Nunn has started and also been a DNP-CD. Dragic has started, come off the bench. Meyers Leonard, starter and DNP-CD — and now had season-ending surgery.
KZ Okpala has started a game and been benched in the second half!
Jimmy Butler, Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, and Bam Adebayo all seem to be the preferred starters but the 5th is up for grabs although it seems to be Olynyk.
The Heat don’t know the best combos, the best units, or how to maximize everyone. Gabe Vincent has had moments and then disappeared. Yes, there has been inconsistency with the available players — and that is a huge factor. But...Spo, 20+ games in still seems to be searching for what works and that is not a good sign.
The Heat are in trouble. In fact, Diego Quezada has stated that it’s time for a major shake-up. Miami is about to head out on a 7-game west coast road trip and if they aren’t careful they can come back without much contention of making the playoffs.
The good news is that there is still time. Health will help, maybe the trade deadline will help. And maybe they aren’t as far away as we think they are. All we know is that we are sick of watching this team lose.
What have you learned about the Heat so far?
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