Despite the good vibe from the White House visit, Greg Oden getting his first points and LeBron James talking about his ability to score more points, something is off with the Miami Heat. They lost 114-97 to the Washington Wizards, their third straight loss, all coming on the road against Eastern Conference teams they shouldn’t be finding it this difficult to play against.
Focus? Preparedness? Coasting? Nene, who finished with 19 points, 9 assists and 3 blocks, including a huge one on LeBron James, probably said it best: They came here, whatever. Went to the White House, whatever. We just came here to play.
John Wall was too much handle for the Heat and especially for Norris Cole, getting the start instead of Mario Chalmers. It was a good offensive game for Cole who played the full 40 minutes, scoring 15 points, but he couldn’t keep up with Wall who scored 25 points, adding 9 assists and 5 rebounds.
But as good as Washington were, improving to 18-19 which might mean there will be another Eastern team above .500 very soon, the Miami Heat playing this badly was the big story here. They gave up 69 points in the first half, 2nd-most first-half points allowed by the Heat in the Big 3 era. They were trailing by 34 points at some point in the in the first half, their largest deficit of the season (at any point in the game) and their 2nd-largest in any game in the Big 3 era. The largest, 38, was also against the Wizards back in 2012.
The defense was slow, bad, and lazy. They gave up 28 fast break points (helped by their 44% shooting from the field). They allow on average 11 fast break points per game this season. The defense seems to have gone into a coasting mode, even if most won’t admit it. Since their last meeting with Indiana on December 18th they have the worst field goal percentage defense in the NBA, and 5th-worst defensive efficiency. Their defense ranked 6th in efficiency during their first 26 games.
James wasn’t making any excuses in the end: They was playing at another speed. They was playing at, like, 15 and we was playing at, like, seven. Don’t even gonna give us that much of a credit. We was playing at, like, five. We love adversity more than anything. We’re definitely at that point. As you can tell, my damn voice is gone. I gotta try to find it, too.
The only thing the Miami Heat were happy with? Gred Oden playing for the first time this season and since 2009 (when he was still with the Blazers). Oden played 8 minutes and scored 6 points, getting his first basket in over four years on a put back dunk. This is the beginning of a long road in his next step which hopefully ends with him being a meaningful part of the Heat’s rotation, but for now, he’s happy enough getting any kind of playing time.
The Miami Heat have been through bad losing streaks and rough stretches, but the last couple of years have made us feel like they are impervious to such flaws. It turns out that sometimes age and travelling gets to them as well; in a way that might hint that there’s a lot more to fix on this team than just effort.