If you took a quick glance at Miami Heat’s record, at first glance, you would think there’s nothing wrong with the Miami Heat, they’re second in the Eastern Conference at 43-18, and they have a solid road record of 21-11. But all of that does not tell the story about why everyone who is betting on that team to do damage in the playoffs is a little concerned right now.
The Miami Heat are 5-12 in games decided by five points or less. You would expect with closers like Wade and James in the lineup, it would be the close games in which the superstars would take over down the stretch, instead it has been the opposite.
It looks like the Heat deliberately try and get Dwyane Wade going in the first quarter and then let LeBron James dominate the second so that each player has a rhythm heading into the second half. Often times in the first half of games, James and Wade won’t be on the floor at the same time allowing each to do their thing and be the focal point of the offense. This was exactly what happened in their last game with the Orlando Magic in town. Both Wade and James were on fire and the Heat lead by as many as 24 points in the second half.
But that’s when the wheels fell off. The Heat are becoming notorious for giving up big leads and being unable to stop teams from going on runs, and they can’t seem to pull wins out of close games. Aside from James and Wade disappearing at times in the second half, there’s two main things that contribute to these trends.
Firstly, because the Heat are a jump-shooting team, they’re dead last in the NBA in points scored in the paint. If they go cold from outside, they don’t have a player to dump the ball into the post to that can get an easy bucket, or demand a double team, unless LeBron goes into the post, and he doesn’t go in there nearly enough. And the only thing Chris Bosh seems willing to do is shoot jumpers, whether he ‘s making them or not.
It makes it tough for the team to stop runs, when their offense goes cold it affects their defence, and the long misses from jumpshots just help the other team get out and run. And when you’re playing against the Orlando Magic, they’re running to shoot threes, not layups, that’s how you give up a 24 point lead.
It’s a little harder to explain why the Heat are unable pull wins out of close games with the star power they have. But their strength seems to also be their weakness. If you look back over the years to how many times D. Wade has made buzzer beating or game winning shots in his house in Miami over the past few years you’ll realize that he’s done it on a consistent basis. That consistency comes in part from knowing the ball is going to be in your hands during those situations. That hasn’t been the case this year. Sometimes the ball is LeBron’s hands, sometimes it’s in Eddie House’s, Mike Miller’s, Bosh’s, it’s all over the place. What the Heat need to do is say, okay, our late game hero is Wade and then ride that out, other people will step up when they need to.
These next stretch of games will show a lot about the Heat as they play teams winning records, starting with the San Antonio Spurs, the team with the best record in the NBA. The addition of Mike Bibby may help with ball distribution and his veteran presence at the PG can help steady the ship when things get rocky.