The Miami Heat have cruised along at the top of the Eastern Conference for a large portion of this season, but things have not been going well lately. After getting blown out by the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday, the Heat have now lost four games in a row to drop into second place behind the Philadelphia 76ers.
In the past week alone there was an on-court meltdown in which head coach Erik Spoelstra, Jimmy Butler and Udonis Haslem exchanged words and had to be separated, a 17-point fourth quarter collapse against the lowly New York Knicks, and the previously mentioned defeat to the Nets in which they trailed by 37 at one point.
Following 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.”
After scoring just 95 points and allowing the Nets to shoot 53.1 percent from the field through the first three quarters, Lowry noted there are issues on both sides of the ball.
“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.”
Perhaps the most discouraging aspect of these recent results for the Heat is that they’ve actually been healthy for once. Their preferred starting lineup of Lowry, Butler, Duncan Robinson, PJ Tucker and Bam Adebayo, which has played just 30 games together this season, was out there for all four of these losses.
The Heat are still one of the best teams in the East, and are almost surely going to finish with at least a top-four seed, but heading into the playoffs you want to be playing your best basketball of the season. Instead, the Heat are playing some of their worst while fighting amongst themselves in the process.