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The Heat are in trouble

Caleb Martin isn’t a starting power forward.

Portland Trail Blazers v Miami Heat Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

The Miami Heat have lost their last two games at the buzzer. They could’ve had both of them, or gotten the split. Instead, now Miami is two games below .500. And the Heat have had a home-heavy schedule to open the season; losing these early games hurt.

Last night’s loss to the Portland Trail Blazers felt worse because Miami played well for most of the game. Friday night in Indiana, neither team played well.

That’s not how a team that came within one basket of reaching a second NBA Finals in three years should play. Fans have already drawn parallels to the dreary 2020-21 season. During that year, Miami at least had the excuse of the short off-season. What’s it now?

It’s clear the Heat erred in keeping their roster intact once Kevin Durant stayed with the Brooklyn Nets. Caleb Martin is a solid backup wing, not a starting power forward. Victor Oladipo, who some thought would take Tyler Herro’s role as the sixth man, still hasn’t played this season. Neither has Omer Yurtseven, which has left Dewayne Dedmon as the only backup for Bam Adebayo.

Last season, Martin, Max Strus and Gabe Vincent all had breakout years. This year, Erik Spoelstra hasn’t trusted Haywood Highsmith enough to play in more than five games. Nikola Jovic has played in just three. Jamal Cain hasn’t checked into a regular season game yet.

Now, the season isn’t over. But we now know it’ll be tough for the Heat to make it to the February trade deadline without an upgrade at power forward. Kyle Lowry needs to perform like a player who is earning $28.3 million this year. That means he needs to be consistent with his offense.

During that 2020-21 season, Miami started the year 7-14. We’re not there yet, but the Heat need to avoid falling into that hole and then feeling like the goal is to avoid the play-in tournament.

The Heat’s next two games are home against the Charlotte Hornets. Winning both will help right the ship. But it’d just be a start.