Cold Start For Heat

The Heat is not on currently as the beginning of this season feels more like the post bubble run season than it does like the promising start to last season. In the early portion of last season you could tell that the Heat were real contenders right from the opening tip of the first game against the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks. Miami was tenacious on defense and efficient on offense. They blew out the team that swept them out of the playoffs the season before. The trend continued against other competition, even though Miami started out with a schedule that was heavily weighted to having games on the road. It did not matter, the Heat were still at the top of the league in defensive efficiency, offensive efficiency, and scoring differential. All were good prognostication tools to foretell that Miami was a legitimate contender even though the national media didn’t buy in. I genuinely believe had it not been for the injuries that plagued the Heat throughout the playoffs they would have been the eastern conference representatives in the NBA Finals. Whether they would have won it or not is another discussion. However, I have no doubt in my mind the Heat would have dispatched Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals.


Chemistry Problems

That was last year, this year is not giving me the same vibes at all. Last year at this point in the season I could tell that we were title contenders. This year, after 12 games, I can already tell that this team is not a contender. The loss of PJ Tucker and the insertion of Tyler Herro into the starting lineup has this team disjointed and out of whack. They are not playing with the same level of defensive intensity, especially in transition. The ball movement and team over individual concept that made them a force last season only shows up in some moments in some games. The telling stat this season so far has been the team assists. This season if the Heat as a team is near 30 assists, they win the game. If they are in the low 20s or high teens in assists, they lose. It’s as simple as that and that is what the numbers say (with the lone exception being last night’s game against Charlotte that they almost lost). It shows in their 5-7 record that has them currently 11th in the East and 3rd in the Southeast division.


Last Second Loss

Monday night the Heat had an epic back and forth matchup with the Portland Trailblazers and Max Strus hit a clutch corner 3 to tie the game and possibly send it to overtime with around 6.2 seconds left to play. I am not sure if the Heat assumed Portland would take a timeout to have Chauncey Billups draw up a designed play or what, but their atrocious transition defense burned them once again. The Heat were not cross matched properly and allowed Hart to put the game winning 3-point dagger in their heart right at the end of regulation time buzzer. A walk-off triple never feels good, especially when you played good team ball and had a decent lead for three quarters. However, the Heat simply did not take care of their business in the final frame. Everything they did well to build up the lead in the first three quarters, they inexplicably stopped doing in the fourth quarter and it cost them dearly. That was the doom and gloom from Monday and the Heat had 3 days off and a midterm election to stew on it.


Too Many Close Ones…

Thursday night the Miami Heat played another game that was fun yet stressful to watch and it once again went down to the final possessions. They ended up needing overtime to beat the lowly Charlotte Hornets who did not have LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward, or Miles Bridges in their lineup. A win is a win, and I am happy they won. I would have cried if they did not win that game. However, the consistent fourth quarter meltdowns are a major concern. Needing regular season Jimmy to provide playoff Jimmy performances so early in the season just to squeak by the Hornets is a major concern. The sub-average three-point shooting percentages of our shooters is a major concern. The reported bone spurs in Yurtseven’s ankles that could cause him to miss the rest of the season is a major concern. Oladipo’s tendinosis is a major concern. The sudden rapid aging of Kyle Lowry and his ineffectiveness is a major concern. The fact that Caleb Martin can’t set screens, shoot corner threes, post up, or defend bigs like PJ Tucker did is a major concern. Bam not taking over and dominating a mid-level Plumlee in a home game at the beginning of the regular season is a major concern.


This Year’s Prospects……

This team is not a championship caliber team. This much is as sure as those white mashup jerseys they debuted last night were a flop. I wanted Pat Riley to make a move during the offseason to bring in Jerami Grant, Donovan “Spida” Mitchell, Kevin Durant, Buddy Hield, Myles Turner, or Jae Crowder. When a move like that did not materialize, I was able to convince myself that running it back with this team would be good enough to get back to the Finals if we saw enough growth from Yurtseven to move Bam back to his natural position as a power forward, more growth from Tyler as a perimeter shooter and defender, a healthy and in shape Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson finding his pre-pandemic and bubble run form once again, and if Oladipo found his shot on his second year back from his surgically repaired leg. Unfortunately, it looks like hoping for all of those things to happen was like hoping for an inside straight in a high stakes poker game or hoping that I had the winning Powerball ticket when the jackpot hit $2.04 billion. Maybe it was just a hill too high to climb. Maybe the odds just were not in our favor. Maybe it was just too much to ask for everything to go right.

This team has been fun to watch, but their record is depressing. These last few back and forth games, with the infinite amounts of lead changes, and going down to the last second buzzer beater shots and overtime were definitely exciting affairs but are not good for the cardiac health of our collective hearts. Injuries did this team in during the playoffs last season, and it appears losing PJ and injuries to our key reserves are doing the team in already this season.


Herro trying to be a Hero…..

Tyler Herro is still a minus on the defensive end who struggles when he is blitzed or double-teamed and turns the ball over a ton which offsets his main positive attribute which is his scoring. Herro has also stopped taking midrange jumpers and floaters that were so deadly for him last season and led to his 6th Man of the Year award. Now he is taking way more threes and only shooting threes and layups like an analytics guy got to him. The problem is he does not possess the athleticism or quickness to consistently get by defenders so a lot of his shots are tough shots and he rarely gets to the free throw line. Also, to make matters worse, Tyler has become a bit of a ball stopper who takes a lot of tough shots that hurts the offensive efficiency and still has not meshed with the starting unit. I don’t think it’s because Tyler is a ball hog, far from it. He just wants to will his team to a win and he wants to show that he was worth the big money extension by proving he can be a viable starter in this league for this team.  But sometimes when you try too hard, the results go the opposite direction and that appears to be the affliction of Tyler on this starting unit so far in this current campaign. It’s been a tough opening stretch for this team, and I do not see the solutions currently on this roster. With that said I still have the utmost faith in Erik Spoelstra and faith in Pat Riley. Hopefully, a move can be made sooner rather than later to get this team going again. They need to figure this out but time is not on their side and other teams in the east are much more improved.

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