Just two games into the season and the Miami Heat have a 1-1 record. Some may be starting to panic especially after Wednesday’s 114-110 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Heat started the season with a convincing victory over the Chicago Bulls and tried to convert on back to back wins in Philly but came up short. It’s just possible when the Sixers handed them their first loss, that they may have been fatigued. Here are five things we have learned about the Miami Heat in the first two games.
The Heat can still “flip the switch”- Miami was a bit sluggish to start the season opener against the Bulls and gave up nine points after scoring the game’s first two baskets. Then, it was like a scene that became familiar during last season when Miami would go on a scoring run. Those runs would essentially take the opposition out of the game. Last night was no different as a 13-6 run gave them a slim lead after one quarter. In the second quarter, the game began to get out of hand as the Heat outscored the Bulls 37-18 and before anyone could blink, there was a 20-point lead heading into halftime.
It’s called defense!- The Heat could have played better defensively in both games but their lapses against the Sixers cost them a tally in the win column. They were ahead by as many as nine points in the final quarter and that’s when the Sixers buckled down on defense and were able to create transition opportunities and easy baskets to get them within striking distance. The Bulls shrunk a 20 point lead to eight points late in the fourth quarter to keep their hopes alive. Chicago reeled off 37 points in the fourth, which was more than they totaled in the first half. Miami cannot afford to relax on defense because teams will gain momentum and gain confidence like they gave the youthful squad from Philly after getting outscored 29-16 in the final stanza
Tired due to back-to-back games- Coach Erik Spoelstra is not into making excuses and he won’t blame the NBA Powers That Be for scheduling the team for games on consecutive nights to start the season. But, it certainly seemed like there were some players on the Heat worn out down the stretch of Wednesday’s game. Even without the services of Dwyane Wade, the Sixers were not thought of as stiff competition like the Bulls. The Heat thrived in back-to-back situations last season winning 15 of 16 games. The hustle of having to travel to land in Philly at 3AM for a 7PM tip may have been an issue as to why they didn’t close out the Sixers. The energy they used early in the game to erase a 20-point deficit caught up to them as Miami went without a field goal for a crucial stretch of the fourth quarter that led to the loss.
Beware of rest for players- Dwyane Wade did not dress for the game against the 76ers due to rest and general soreness. He is aiming to get his knee as healthy as possible to be able to contribute more when needed. Taking a game off will be regular for Wade and a few others especially when blowouts and lower competition are a factor. Spoelstra wants his team to be able to perform at a high level at all times but also realizes the toll on their bodies, reaching the NBA Finals in each of the past three seasons. Don’t be surprised if this happens more as the season progresses in order to keep the team fresh.
The Heat are still the world champions- Any opponent playing against the Miami Heat will be giving extra effort because they are the two-time defending champions. The Bulls came out with their best shot and had the Heat and their stifling defense bring them back to earth within the first 24 minutes of the season. The Heat had a hiccup by losing to a young Sixers team that put it all on the line in their season opener, but it’s not enough to get fans to worry about where this team will be in May and June. It was the clear message Miami sent to the Bulls on opening night that should make the contenders aware that the Miami Heat are not done their reign of terror on the league.
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