After cruising to the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, the Miami Heat have suddenly cooled down a bit.
A series of unfortunate events took place after there was an on-court meltdown in which head coach Erik Spoelstra, Jimmy Butler, and Udonis Haslem exchanged words and had to be separated which ended in a 14-point loss to the undermanned Golden State Warriors. That unfortunate incident was followed by a 17-point fourth-quarter collapse against the lowly New York Knicks, and the Brooklyn Nets in which they trailed by 37 at one point.
The Heat have now lost 4-in-a-row and have dropped to the 2nd seed behind the defending NBA champion, Milwaukee Bucks.
After the Nets game, veteran point guard Kyle Lowry admitted that the team has some work to do ahead of the playoffs.
“I think we are at that point where we’re not concerned in the sense of panicking, but yeah we have to fix some stuff,” Lowry said. “Like I said it’s a long season but we’re getting to that point that this is not a game where you say ‘we just flush it.’ This is one of those games where you really have to say, ‘all right we need to figure some things out.’ We played a really good team, a hungry team, a talented team and they took it to us tonight.”
“We have to find ways to get more shots on goal, less turnovers,” Lowry said. “We also, on the defensive end, need to figure out where we’re gonna be at all times. We still have some indecisiveness with coverages in situations.”
The more concerning factor is that Miami has started a losing streak despite their preferred starting lineup of Lowry, Butler, Duncan Robinson, PJ Tucker, and Bam Adebayo being active.
How to right the ship?
The Miami Heat are a championship organization. They know it’s a long grueling season that will have many turns and twists. While it is concerning that they are playing their worst basketball, with not many regular-season games left to play, Coach Spo has been here before and can turn it around with a few lineup tweaks which include:
Less is more for Markeiff Morris and possibly Victor Oladipo
Since returning from his suspension, Morris has not made the best transition to a Miami Heat uniform. At times he looks like the mismatch that bigs or top scorers want to go after. He has had ill-advised turnovers and instead of increasing the tempo on offense, the Heat’s offense has slowed at times trying to get Morris and Oladipo comfortable. There are times when substitutions don’t need to be made when Duncan Robinson is scorching from outside and Caleb Martin has looked like the best player on the floor. Even Max Strus has made a name for himself this season and deserves more playing time.
There are also times I ask that if bigs like Joel Embiid and Andre Drummond are dominating the paint, why not give Ömer Yurtseven, the only 7 ft player on the roster more playing time? Eye check says the Turkish baller can offensive rebound quite well and tracks the ball down at a very high level. He’s also not afraid to shoot and can give solid minutes on both sides. Yurtseven and Bam’s size needs to be utilized much more. It’s hard to expect the Heat to go far in the playoffs only playing small ball.
The Heat is still expected to finish as a top-4 seed in the playoffs but must find their true identity before it’s too late. Will they finally find a much-needed spark vs Sacramento? Will Jimmy Buckets continue to be the go-to guy in crunch time?
You won’t have to wait long to find out as tip-off is set for 7:30 PM at FTX Arena!