The Miami Heat’s four-game road trip got off to a horrible start with a 122-117 loss to a Charlotte Hornets team that is 21 games below .500. Although Miami has some bad performances this season — home losses to the Detroit Pistons and San Antonio Spurs come to mind — this one ranks up there.
Tomorrow night, the Heat face the team right above them in the standings — the Cleveland Cavaliers. Yes, holding the sixth seed guarantees Miami a playoff spot. But that’s not a position for a team with championship aspirations to shoot for.
After the embarrassing loss, Erik Spoelstra said that his message to the team was that, “We have to commit to our identity. ... We have a great defense.” Of course, giving up 122 points to the Hornets isn’t indicative of a team with a great defense. It appeared that the Heat exhaled when they opened the third quarter on a 10-1 run and jumped out to a 13-point lead. Charlotte quickly wrestled the lead back and never relinquished it.
Bam Adebayo added that Monday’s practice in Cleveland was productive and that he and his teammates re-calibrated and that everybody is “getting on the same page and smoothing things out.”
They better. After Tuesday’s visit with the Cavaliers, the Heat head to Manhattan to take on the New York Knicks, who currently hold the seventh seed. And after that, Miami closes the trip at the Milwaukee Bucks, the three seed.