The Miami Heat went into a road game against a Philadelphia 76ers team resting Joel Embiid and James Harden last week at a season-best 23 games over .500. Four inexcusable losses later, and Miami is now 19 games under .500, having lost control of the one seed and now looking at second consecutive playoff flameout.
P.J. Tucker once led the league in 3-point shooting. He’s shooting 15 percent from 3 in his last 14 games. In a starting lineup already with two non-shooters, that hurts the offense. Gabe Vincent has missed all of the Heat’s last four games, but his 3-point shooting has dipped lately, too.
Gabe Vincent shooting 31% from 3 on five attempts a game in March. He shot 32% all of February also on 5 attempts.— Greg Sylvander (@GregSylvander) March 16, 2022
Will be a problem to play him consistently if that doesn’t improve come playoff time.
The improved 3-point percentages from Tucker, Vincent, Max Strus and Caleb Martin helped balance out a down Duncan Robinson shooting year. But now, the others have seen their percentages drop. And Robinson — while still a very good shooter — probably won’t crack 40 percent from 3 this year, as he did the previous two seasons.
Victor Oladipo has now played in six games, and it looks unlikely that he’ll be the guy who can raise the ceiling of this team and provide Miami with another All-Star-level talent. Jimmy Butler was a non-factor against the Brooklyn Nets last night, and his inability to even hit a mid-range shot — let alone a 3-pointer — has turned the Heat offense anemic in important fourth quarters.
And oh yeah, Erik Spoelstra and Udonis Haslem had a heated exchange with Jimmy Butler in the midst of Miami’s loss to the Golden State Warriors. And Haslem has posted messages on his Instagram Story that may be thinly-veiled digs at Butler.
I love this. I love that. What do you think it means pic.twitter.com/hNkrWq64zp— Miami Heat Beat (@miaheatbeat) March 26, 2022
Can the Heat turn it around? The 2010-11 Heat went on a five-game losing streak in early March when everything seemed doomed. And then, of course, the Big Three turned it around and the Heat made it to the Finals. But this team doesn’t have LeBron James or Dwyane Wade.
And if Butler can’t regain his jump-shot, teams know how to defend him. Frank Vogel put Anthony Davis on him in the 2020 Finals. Mike Budenholzer put Giannis Antetokounmpo on him in the 2021 playoffs. The counter is for Butler to make jumpers while the opponents defend for the drive.
The way the Heat have played the last week, they look like a team that won’t make it out of the first round. And a second consecutive flop in the playoffs would mean that it’s time for an overhaul.