The word coasting is the perfect example of this season so far for the Miami Heat, who are taking the weak opponents a little bit less seriously than they should, easily noticed by their very weak defense, LeBron James not trying to do too much on offense and Dwyane Wade making a decision to make a mockery of his free throw, costing his team the game.
With 0.6 seconds left in the game, Wade stood on the free throw line with a chance to finish the game. The Heat are leading by two points. Wade misses the first shot, and now is faced with a conundrum. Hitting it, and then giving the Celtics a chance to tie the game, or missing on purpose, and hoping that enough time passes before a rebound is grabbed and the Heat win the game.
Despite being a good free throw shooter (76.6% career shooter), Wade decided to let time pass. He hurled the ball at the backboard, aiming for the rim. The ball went a bit higher than it was supposed to, so no time passed until the Celtics grabbed the rebound, called the timeout and set themselves up for the game winning shot by Jeff Green.
Need to panic after their third loss this season, dropping a game to a team they really shouldn’t be losing to? Probably not. The Heat are 4-3, 3-1 at home, and a loss to the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers is a bit harder to explain than losing to the Brooklyn Nets on the road, but it’s still too soon to start calling this a problem. Unless you consider being quite arrogant about their approach to certain games a problem.
Two-time NBA champions tend to be this way, especially an older team like the Miami Heat. Just like last season, their defensive numbers are really far away from where you’d expect them to be: Miami are 28th in the NBA, allowing 1.04 points per possession, and 24th in opponents field goal percentage, with teams hitting 49.6% of their shots against them. We saw a similar problem that was fixed last season as LeBron James and the Heat exploded when 2013 came around, but with every passing year, it gets harder and harder to turn it back on.
We can’t afford to trade baskets with anyone, no matter who we’re playing. It hurt us. We messed around with the game tonight, and that was that. I’ll tell you what — we just need to cover more things. We do. We need to cover more situations. That clearly did not work. I could go on and on. You could see it. The lack of awareness, the energy, the effort. Running it down our gut. Beating us off the dribble. Open shots all night. Categorically, it’s probably across the board, we were very poor.
This isn’t just a big three issue, who when on the floor are still very difficult to beat, especially with Wade looking healthy. The bench unit all finished with a negative +/-, playing some very bad defense, especially when Wade was starter joining them on the floor. In their wins over the Bulls, the Clippers and Toronto, knowing they need to prove something, we saw an excellent Miami team when it mattered. Right now, motivation against some of the weaker teams in the league seems to be a problem.