After a surprising run to the NBA Finals last season, the future was looking very bright for the Miami Heat. They locked in Bam Adebayo to a five-year, $163 million deal before the start of the season. However, after a huge playoff run, the Heat looked nothing like the team they were last season. With a quick season turnaround, the Heat struggled early with a 7-14 record over their first 21 games. It also didn’t help that their best player, Jimmy Butler, only played in 10 of the team’s first 21 games.
Miami was also one of the teams hit hardest by Covid-19 with several players having to be quarantined. There were nights where over half of the team was sidelined. In the first two games against the Philadelphia 76ers, Miami only had eight available players, barely reaching the league minimum allowed to play. Then there were injuries to Tyler Herro (18 games missed), Goran Dragic (22 games missed), and Victor Oladipo (23 games missed) that affected the team’s continuity. Out of the three, Oladipo’s injury was the toughest. Miami had acquired him at the deadline to be an X-factor for this postseason. Unfortunately, Oladipo’s season ended with the guard electing to have surgery on his injured knee.
Aside from the injuries, the team has been mediocre on the floor all season, especially on the offensive end. Last season, Miami ranked 15th (112 points per game) in offense in the league. Add that with a top-10 defense, then you’ll see why the Heat were a tough team to beat every night. However, this season is very different. This year, they have the fifth-worst offense (108.1 points per game) and fifth-best defense (108 points per game) in the league. They may have a top-five defense, but when the offense is struggling, it doesn’t matter how good they are on one end of the floor.
One of the reasons for the team’s struggling offense has been Herro and Duncan Robinson‘s inefficiencies. Both players have been in a slump this season. Even though Robinson is shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc, his efficiency has dipped from his historical shooting percentage (44.6 percent) from last season. Herro’s three-point shooting has also dipped from 38.9 percent from last season to 36 percent this season. Teams have keyed in on both players in their scouting reports. Regression was expected but because both players are relied heavily upon offensively it has affected Miami in terms of wins and losses.
In all, the Heat have been inconsistent all season. Instead of competing for one of the top seeds in the Eastern Conference, Miami has lost games they should’ve won handily and struggled against teams with winning records. But what Miami taught us last postseason is that a team’s regular-season performance doesn’t matter as long as they show up. Last season’s Heat team finished fifth in the East but flipped the switch to make a long postseason run. We’ll see if they can flip the switch again this postseason.
Follow Jacari McRae on Twitter @JMcRae23