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The Heat have won two straight. They still have a long way to go.

At the 20-game mark, the Heat are 9-11.

Washington Wizards v Miami Heat Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

The Miami Heat have now played 20 regular season games. And though it’s not quite as bad as their start to the 2020-21 season — when Miami was 7-14 after 21 games — it is disappointing. Teams that come within a basket of a second Finals appearance in three years shouldn’t be 9-11.

Let’s get out all the caveats out of the way. Last night against the Washington Wizards, the Heat opened the fourth quarter of a tie game with both two-way players — Jamal Cain and Dru Smith — and Haywood Highsmith on the court. Highsmith stayed on the floor all through crunch time.

Miami has suffered through a plethora of injuries. As I said, the Wizards should have crushed the Heat last week when Miami had just seven available players. Instead, it was a one-point loss in overtime. Kyle Lowry deserves credit for playing big minutes essentially all season long at 36 years of age.

Contrary to what Erik Spoelstra has said over the years, sometimes the Heat just don't have enough.

But it’s now clear the Heat shouldn’t have counted on Victor Oladipo, who played just four games in 2021 before suffering a season-ending injury. He barely played during the regular season the following year and offered some encouraging performances in the 2022 playoffs. He’s yet to play this year.

Going into last season, the Heat knew that Oladipo wouldn’t play for a while. Gabe Vincent, Max Strus and Caleb Martin all exceeded expectations. This year, many hoped Oladipo would play the sixth man role Tyler Herro, Goran Dragic and Dwyane Wade have filled recently.

The Heat have been characteristically close to the vest on Oladipo’s return. Even though he accompanied the team on their recent 0-4 road trip, he won’t play tomorrow at the Atlanta Hawks. Neither will Jimmy Butler.

In the face of these absences, Herro and Bam Adebayo need to bring it consistently. Adebayo dominated last night, but had a bad offensive night Wednesday. Herro made clutch shots Wednesday night, but had an abysmal 4-for-18 shooting performance last night with five turnovers.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Bradley Beal sought out Herro for switches and scored on him a few times in the fourth quarter.

These last two wins are positive developments, but they don’t change the fact the Miami looks like a team that needs a trade (or two) to vault themselves into contention. Butler is 33 years old, so the time is now to make the most of his window.