The Miami Heat aren’t out of it yet, but they badly need to start winning

Jimmy Butler, Precious Achiuwa and the rest of the Miami Heat better figure out what’s wrong and fast.
Jimmy Butler, Precious Achiuwa and the rest of the Miami Heat better figure out what’s wrong and fast.
Illustration: Getty Images

The Miami Heat can’t keep losing like this.

Last night, Miami led Golden State by 14 with 6:30 left. Three minutes later, the Warriors had scored 11 unanswered points and sliced the lead to three. And not only did Golden State send the game into overtime, but the Heat somehow lost by eight. It’s a frightening trend that has survived even beyond the Heat’s dealings with COVID, which they’ve battled as much as anyone in the NBA this season.

Advertisement

Miami, now 11-17 with three straight losses, failed to take advantage of a game where Steph Curry shot only 5-20 from three and 8-25 overall.

Two nights ago against the Los Angeles Clippers — who were missing Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Patrick Beverley, and Nicolas Batum — the Heat lost 125-118, allowing 32 points from Marcus Morris, and a notable 15 from Amir Coffey, who was in the G League a few days prior.

Even without Goran Dragic and Avery Bradley healthy, the Heat no longer have the excuse of being incomplete in a season where every team is dealing with some degree of absence at the moment. They don’t have the referees screwing them over a potentially season-altering victory in Philadelphia while super short-handed. Nor would the Heat ask for a pardon because it combats what we know of Heat Culture. But with three games remaining on their West Coast road trip, along with another five before the March 7 All-Star Game, the Heat need answers beginning tonight in Sacramento.

Working in their favor is, despite their record, they would only miss the four-team play-in tournament by one game, to the 12-16 Atlanta Hawks. Currently, at six sit the 14-16 New York Knicks, and at four are the 15-14 Indiana Pacers. Somehow, you look up, and the Heat are not only barely out of the playoffs, but they’re still within striking distance of home-court advantage. With the condensed 72-game season, the Heat still have over 40 games remaining, but with the March 25 trade deadline looming, the need for a move is not even debatable.

The Heat are just 27th in scoring, 25th in offensive rating, and 23rd in net rating. They’re also nearly dead-last in rebounding, which highlights arguably the most significant void on their roster: A legitimate big to play beside Bam Adebayo, no offense to Kelly Olynyk. Even though their grand issues are likely to be solved by adding players outside of their current roster, for now, the Heat can’t continue dropping games in gut-wrenching fashion and just expect to turn it on. As presently constructed, they should be at least good enough to do that this season.