With another crushing home loss, this time to the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night, the Miami Heat have now fallen below the Philadelphia 76ers for first place in the Eastern Conference by percentage points. The final score was 110-95, but it wasn't even that close en route to their fourth straight loss that has turned what appeared to be a relatively straightforward path to securing the top seed in the East and homecourt advantage through the conference finals.
Head coach Erik Spoelstra missed the game tonight to be with his son, who was undergoing a medical procedure, so it was up to assistant coach Chris Quinn to figure out a way to turn things around after a disastrous week. Miami quickly fell behind in the first half by double-digits, with a halftime deficit at 21 points and swelling to as many as 37 in the third quarter.
Kevin Durant (23 points) and Kyrie Irving (11 points, six assists and four rebounds) weren’t needed in the fourth quarter. With the score 96-68 by the end of the third, the Heat also took out Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry. Playing on the second night of a back-to-back set, Butler had just seven points on 2-of-9 shooting and Lowry had 12 points and just one assist. Duncan Robinson went scoreless in 19 minutes missing his only three shots from beyond the arc.
Tyler Herro returned to action but didn’t make much of an impact with 13 points on 5-14 shooting and 0-5 from long range. Max Strus also finished with 13 inconsequential points when the game was well out of reach.
The Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks are now right behind the Heat by percentage points in the East standings. Miami closes out a nightmare home stretch Monday night against the Sacramento Kings before road games against the Celtics, Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors.