Miami Heat Look Extinguished

Miami Heat
Howard Smith USA TODAY Sports

It hasn’t even been two weeks since XN Sports wrote about how the Miami Heat looked to be threatening the Pacers’ Eastern Conference standing. Since then, they’ve been playing like a team extinguished. Just last night they lost their first back-to-back at home since March of 2011. XN Sports didn’t even exist then.

Dwyane Wade, for his part, feels like something isn’t clicking. The Heat have certainly backed up his talk by relinquishing five of their last 10 games. More alarming is that they’ve dropped five of their last six.  To make matters worse, their schedule is on an incline of difficulty with many of their remaining games coming against Houston, Memphis, Portland, Indiana, Toronto, Brooklyn, and Washington.

Prior to their slump, Miami was on an eight-game winning streak, in many cases, beating some of the league’s best teams in OKC, Phoenix, Chicago, and Golden State. That streak makes this drop-off all the more head-scratching as they appeared to be on an upward climb. Little more than a week later, they’ve posted the Eastern Conference’s eighth-worst record.

Some of their woes can be explained by their March numbers which have been their worst to date this year. In October, the team was averaging 108.5 points. In March, 101.9. In October, they were passing the ball at a clip of 28 assists per game. In March, 21.1. They were attempting the same amount of field goals in November (38.3) as they are now but were hitting them at a rate of 51.3 percent. In March, the number has dropped below 50 percent for the first time this season at 49.4. Already one of the league’s worst rebounding teams, they dropped off from a season-high 37.9 per contest in January to a paltry 35.9 this month. Even in categories where they do supremely well, like steals, the Heat have seen a major tumble. Just last month they were averaging steals in the double-digits. In March, the number is at 8.3. The most telling stat of all is their plus/minus rating which was at a handsome plus-10.0 and is now at 0.1. If posted for the year, a 0.1 rating would put them somewhere in between the Atlanta Hawks and the Washington Wizards.

The only good news is that, despite the difficulties, the Heat remain the league’s fourth-ranked team in the standings. But it doesn’t erase the following conundrum: at some point Heat management would certainly want to rest LeBron and Wade who both need some sitting time for various reasons. Enough of the recent woes will make it harder to rest the two for fear that their standing and team chemistry could take a further blow. But, without that much-needed rest, the Heat’s two-punch duo could falter in their fourth-straight chase for the NBA Finals. The Heat need a turnaround and they need it to be a quick one.

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