What a first half of the season it has been. The Miami Heat have had moments where they look like a lottery team and moments where they look like a Finals team. They’ve battled COVID-19, injuries, and inconsistency. And as we sit at the end of the All-Star break, they are halfway through their season and they sit right in the middle of the hunt in the East.
This is our mid-season progress report where we look at where things are and think about where they are headed. Let’s take a look...
6th in the Eastern Conference (1st in Southeast)
PPG: 106.8 (26th in NBA)
RPG: 42.4 (27th in NBA)
APG: 25.8 (10th in NBA)
OPP PPG: 108.4 (5th in NBA)
Points: Jimmy Butler (20.5 PPG)
Rebounds: Bam Adebayo (9.5 RPG)
Assists: Jimmy Butler (7.8 APG)
Steals: Jimmy Butler (1.9 SPG)
Blocks: Bam Adebayo (1.0 BPG)
Significant Injuries and Absences:
Jimmy Butler: 14 games (Heat are 4-10 in his absence)
Avery Bradley: 26 games
Goran Dragic: 14 games
Tyler Herro: 11 games
Myers Leonard: has only played 3 games, is out for the season
Making the most of their time
The Heat let Max Strus and Gabe Vincent make the most of their time as two-way players for the team. Vincent has appeared in 25 of the 36 games and Strus has played in 19 games. Both of them have had really great moments...they’ve also had moments of struggle, but c’mon, they are two-way players after all. The development of Max Strus could be critical to the Heat’s long-term plan—as they will likely have to make financial commitments to either or both Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn this off-season. Strus will likely be signed to some type of similar multi-year low-cost deal if the Heat feels he can continue to contribute.
Figuring out the lineups
It took Spo some time to find the right starting group, and not all of it was his fault — there has been a lot of absences. After the experiment of Tyler Herro as a starting point guard, we all have learned that he is, at least for now, much more comfortable coming off the bench and playing freely and in a scoring role. Kelly Olynyk has emerged as the PF option for Miami. And that is not necessarily by choice, they have nowhere else to go. Olynyk is ideally a #3 big on a roster, but right now he’s playing as a #2 for Miami. Maybe a trade is coming or they just roll with it, we will see. The Heat would like to see Precious Achiuwa develop more throughout the season. So...
Precious has game
And you won’t see it all the time, but he’s a rookie anyway. If you think back to Bam’s rookie year, he averaged 6 points and 5 rebounds in under 20 minutes (behind Hassan Whiteside). Precious is averaging 6 points, 4 rebounds in 14 minutes. He has touch and feel and I think you will see his game develop over the next two years to being a very solid rotation piece, maybe more than that— once the Heat trusts him with a mid-range shot, he will be a lethal big off the bench with his versatility.
Moving in the right direction
Miami has slowly been recovering from the COVID crisis they had and a mountain of continued injuries from key players (Adebayo, Butler, Dragic and Herro). It’s been difficult to get them all on the court on the same night. But after a bad start...and it’s been bad, they seem to be getting more consistent and relevant. The Heat have won 7 of their last 8 and are actually playing good basketball.
The Heat have the second softest remaining schedule, although nothing is given with this team. They have their work cut out for them, but Spoelstra has always been a great coach in March.
The realistic goal for the Heat for the remainder of the season should be to get home-court advantage in the first round of the Playoffs. They are one game back of the 4th seed and 4 games back of the 3rd seed.
The Heat absolutely need to stay away from the 7-10 play-in scenario where it just takes a couple of cold shooting nights to have your season be over.
Miami is trending in the right way but there are a lot of teams in the hunt from #4-#11 seeds there are only 3 games of separation — one bad week can move you from the inside to the outside looking in.
Grading the first half of the season: C
And that’s with a curve. Sure the Heat have dealt with their share of adversity but so have other teams. Miami has also lost more games than I care to talk about that they should have won. They could easily be sitting pretty as a top 3 seed in the East if they have taken care of business. They’ve been average.
What has stood out to you about the first half of the season?
What grade do you give the Heat?