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Heat still believing a 2nd-half run is possible this season
2023-01-13 | อ่าน

Heat still believing a 2nd-half run is possible this season

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) attempts a shot during final seconds of the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) attempts a shot during final seconds of the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

MIAMI (AP) The starting lineup changes almost daily. The leading scorer has various aches and pains, the leading rebounder has a bad wrist, the assist leader is dealing with knee soreness and the teams 3-point record-holder is wearing a cast on his shooting hand.

Plus, almost every game comes down to the final moments. And most recently,the best night of free-throw shooting in NBA historywas what was required to pull out a one-point win.

Theres still a belief within the Miami Heat a team that had the best record in the Eastern Conference last season that a deep playoff run is possible. But with a 22-20 record one game into the seasons second half, and stuck in the No. 8 spot in the East, the Heat also know that its time to start putting wins together.

Its the start of the second season, coach Erik Spoelstra said Tuesday after a 112-111 win over Oklahoma City. I feel something. I think the locker room feels something. But we also have to prove it. We know that. A lot of it just ends up being talk at this point. But we feel encouraged. Even with all the moving parts and injuries and missed games, we feel like something is happening.

Its been one step forward, one step back all season for the Heat. They had a season-best four-game winning streak in December, a season-worst four-game losing streak in November. They didnt get to the .500 mark for the first time until the 30th game and their current spot two games over .500 matches their best of the season.

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Theyre up to 18 different starting lineups this season, seven in their last nine games. Jimmy Butler leads Miami in scoring; he has missed time with a knee injury and had an aching wrist on Tuesday, when the Heat went an NBA-record 40 for 40 from the foul line, with Butler making 23 of those shots.

I think thats what I signed up for, to be able to play at a high level no matter who we have alongside each other, Butler said. I dont have the hard job. Spo does. Hes got try to mix and match guys, make guys feel comfortable while trying to tell them where to be on the floor, and how to run what play, when to run what play. Its a lot going on.

Bam Adebayo missed the game with a bad wrist, Kyle Lowry with a balky knee, Tyler Herro with a sore Achilles and Caleb Martin with a quadriceps strain. Ordinarily, all four would start. Theres hope that at least some of them will be back Thursday when Miami starts a two-game home series with the Milwaukee Bucks, with the second matchup set for Saturday.

Other Heat players wont be back for a while, if at all. Duncan Robinson, the 3-point record holder in Heat franchise history, had surgery on his right hand. Rookie Nikola Jovic is dealing with a back issue. Backup center Omer Yurtseven had ankle surgery and hasnt played this season.

And the season already has been a grind. Of the first 42 games, 29 have been classified by the NBA as clutch defined as any game within five points with 5 minutes or less remaining. The Heat are 16-13 in those games, 9-6 in games decided by three points or fewer. There isnt much margin for error, in large part because Miamis 108.8 points-per-game average is lowest in the NBA.

I like that feeling going into a locker room, when you feel a team starting to come together from the adversity, Spoelstra said. You wish every team would come together like that. It doesnt always work that way. The last three weeks, you feel like this group has gotten closer. I think everybodys kind of refreshed even though everybodys kind of exhausted. Theres a feeling that in the second half of the season, we can do something special.