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2023-01-23 | อ่าน

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Heat seek to make amends on three-game homestand after a lost day

Ira Winderman, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Even during the darkest days of this season, when the Miami Heat were looking up at .500, coach Erik Spoelstra would accentuate the positives, speak of a team making strides even in defeat.

That is not how the Heat and Spoelstra enter Sundays game against the New Orleans Pelicans at the start of a three-game homestand.

Instead, to Spoelstra, the Heat are coming off a lost day after Friday nights 115-90 loss to the Dallas Mavericks closed out a 1-2 trip.

If were having our typical efforts and that toughness and disposition, win or lose, you get better as a group, Spoelstra said of his minimum standards of competition. He then added of the Dallas game, we didnt get better.

Locked in a battle to avoid the play-in round, which requires at least a No. 6 playoff seed, the Heat have slipped back into a pattern of mediocrity, 5-4 in their past nine.

I just dont like as a head coach wasting nights, Spoelstra said in his vent in the wake of the loss in Dallas. Particularly as were trying to gain some rhythm and get our health and get everybody on the same page.

The health is there, with the preferred starting lineup back in place the past two, a blowout win in New Orleans and the blowout loss in Dallas with the opening five of Bam Adebayo, Caleb Martin, Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro and Kyle Lowry.

But if Wednesday nights victory over the shorthanded Pelicans in New Orleans was a stride forward, the Heat are coming off a slip and fall that raises questions of consistency and cohesion.

We dont have a lot of days to kick down the road like that, he said.

To Spoelstra, Friday was a matter of encountering a desperate opponent, with Dallas coming off three consecutive losses when they allowed at least 130 points in each game.

Now the Heat are facing a Pelicans team facing a season-worst fourth consecutive loss, after falling 123-110 Friday night on the road to the Orlando Magic.

To Spoelstra, it is a matter of facing almost nightly desperation, in a league so tightly packed in the middle.

This seems to be a night-to-night basis, so much parity, he said. It seems like everybody has their own battle that theyre going through. Were one of those teams.

Typically, Spoelstra stresses a one-game-at-a-time approach. But with the three-game homestand impending, he appreciates there has to be something enduring now that his lineup again is intact.

We have an important week, with three important games, Spoelstra said. Were not looking ahead to the whole homestand, but Sunday against New Orleans, and we have Boston and Orlando, its an important week, for sure.

For as much as the Heat have counted on a return to their preferred starting lineup delivering a kick-start, that unit is now 7-9 when opening games.

Friday, the Heat were outscored 14-8 at the outset with the starters in place, then 15-6 at the start of the third, when the starters opened the second half.

We definitely have to start the quarters better as a starting unit, Herro said. Thats our responsibility to get the team off to a good start.

The Heat were outscored 54-12 on 3-pointers in the loss in Dallas, their third-largest deficit from the arc in the franchises 35 seasons.

The Heat closed 4 of 20 from beyond the arc, to somehow manage to get blown out in a game they outshot the Mavericks from the field .478 to .462.

It was just one of those nights, Herro said. Shots werent falling. We didnt hit any threes for the most part that can really get us in a good groove, in a good rhythm on offense. It was a lot of tough buckets, twos, which are good for us. But we got to generate more threes.

Herro in particular has struggled from distance since returning Monday from a three-game absence due to Achilles soreness, at 1 of 17 from beyond the arc.

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