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Miami Heat’s season continues to deflate

This isn’t Miami Heat basketball.

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Miami Heat Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat dropped back down to below .500 with another infuriating loss, this time at home to the Indiana Pacers thanks to a career-night which included a game-winner from Tyrese Haliburton.

Miami, now 16-17, suffered another defeat at home and continues to spiral down the Eastern Conference Standings while their rivals have pivoted to the winning track, leaving them behind.

What seemed like a slow start pilled with disheartening defeats this NBA season is now becoming the norm for a Heat team which looks vastly different from the squad that came within one shot of the NBA Finals last season.

The Heat are average at best. Their starting unit is solid but barely play with each other due to inconsistencies in line-up changes. Jimmy Butler is every bit the franchise player Miami fans hoped for when he first arrived, save for his constant unavailability that establishes a limited ceiling of how good a regular season squad Miami can be.

Kyle Lowry’s still good but not playing to the level that his salary takes on the Heat’s cap space.

Tyler Herro is making leaps as an offensive weapon but continues to be limited on the other end – check out the Tyrese Haliburton game-winner for a specific example.

Bam Adebayo has elevated his game offensively and remains astute on defense, but isn’t the dominant Joel Embiid or Nikola Jokic type of big man who can change the outlook of a game with sheer will power.

Caleb Martin’s lived up to the contract Miami offered him during the offseason but isn’t going to be the type of guy that turns a potential loss into a win. Max Strus has been horrible since the start of December and is nearing the same “you have to bench this guy” territory that previously plagued Duncan Robinson, who isn’t any better himself.

Gabe Vincent has barely played as of late. Omer Yurtseven won’t see the court for a long time. Victor Oladipo has been great defensively but isn’t the offensive weapon he used to be, and might never be that again. The young guys have shown brief flashes of encouraging play but haven’t earned the right to play regular rotation minutes.

Haywood Highsmith has been okay, but he’s Haywood Highsmith – you aren’t going to scream, “Yeah, we got this,” when he checks in a contest.

Erik Spoelstra hasn’t been his usual elite coaching self, either. Some of that is because of the roster he’s been given and then uncertainty of who’s going to be available on a nightly basis. But some of his decisions, substitution patterns, and even volume with which he’s complaining to game officials haven’t necessarily contributed to winning.

And now let’s discuss the front office. The people in those war rooms have earned the benefit of the doubt because of their stellar performances in past years but this recent offseason is reaching “disaster” levels. The Heat had a title contender.

Sure, they didn’t re-sign PJ Tucker, which in hindsight wasn’t as bad as many thought back then, but they also did little else to improve on a roster which came close to the ultimate goal. The team banked on internal upgrades to continue competing. It hasn’t worked out. One can argue the current situation is a mess.

It’s up to them to fix it. And quick. Before this thing spirals down any further, to the levels of “it’s time to blow it up,” or “should we trade Jimmy Butler?” or even “is it time to tank?”

The bench sucks. The star players are good but not good or available enough. The coach is running out of answers. The front office messed up.

The spirit is low. The vibes are bad.

This isn’t Miami Heat basketball.