HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — The Miami Heat have won 14 straight home games. The Miami Heat have also lost six of their last eight road games, including two in the last two nights.
Whether they were suffering a hangover from Sunday’s “Finals preview” in Oklahoma City or not, Monday’s 105-90 loss in Indiana was maybe the Heat’s worst effort of the season. And now’s not the time of year to be saying that.
Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald has the story from Indianapolis…
“It’s that time of year for us to hit a little pothole in the road,” said Heat guard Dwyane Wade, who finished with 24 points, six assists, five rebounds, and four blocks. “We have to make the adjustment before we get back to playing on Thursday.”
The Heat is 8-6 since the All-Star break and has lost two in a row. If Monday’s blowout loss to Oklahoma City didn’t signal the panic alarms, Tuesday’s rout by the Pacers sounded like an emergency siren.
The Heat is playing its worst basketball of the season with a month remaining until the playoffs.
Overall, the Heat have been struggling offensively, with the 20th-ranked offense since the All-Star break. But looking specifically at their six road losses since the break, their defense has been even worse. Although the Heat turned the ball over 38 times in the span of 27 hours, Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com’s Heat Index believes the team’s malaise is more about energy than execution…
The Heat are a team that wants to play fast and loose. They want to break teams’ spirits. Not just through a whole game but for games on end. For entire playoff series, for that matter. That’s how they have chosen to play this season with this collection of talent. This is not a team that “grinds the game,” to use a popular coaching phrase. A lot of the time, it has worked.
Yet as they sit three and a half games back of the Bulls and four games ahead of the Orlando Magic in the East standings while playing a road-heavy portion of the schedule, the Heat don’t seem to have a lot of motivation to keep that up right now.
It’s apparent even when playing playoff-caliber opponents like the Thunder and Pacers. They’ve won 13 in a row at home, where energy historically comes easier at all levels of the game, but on the road they just aren’t showing a great deal of passion.
Though the Chicago Bulls also got blown out on Monday night, they’ve clearly done a better job of keeping their foot on the pedal this season. But the Heat went through a similar stretch with a little over a month left in the season in 2010-11 when they lost five straight. By the time the playoffs rolled around, they were firing on all cylinders.
Will this season be any different?