By: Edwin Duodo
After surprising the NBA couple of months ago by becoming the first fifth seed to make it to the Finals, the Heat have gotten to a slow start. Seven games into the season, Miami has a record of 3-4 due to inconsistent play, rotating starting lineups, and the addition of new players. Last year, Miami started 6-3 and played inspired basketball, and Eric Spoelstra, an outstanding head coach, led them. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers are currently 6-2. However, what does Miami need to accomplish to rise in the Eastern Conference?
There is something about the start of a season that makes teams susceptible to turnovers. It could be that professional athletes have to get used to the natural flow of a high-intensity game. For the Miami Heat, the turnover bug seems to bite early every season. This season so far is no different. The Heat rank last in the NBA in turnovers per game at 17.7. Also, consider that the team is a bottom-five scoring team at 105.8 points per game and is only shooting 36% from the three.
Because of these issues, Heat is losing out on opportunities. Forget about the possibility of offensive rebounding because Miami ranks last with about five a game. Where will the offense come from? Rebounding might be somewhat tricky to solve, but the Heat can clean up the turnovers and three-point shooting. Part of the Heat’s success late last season was discipline and creating more opportunities despite a lack of scoring. Changing the starting lineup could be an answer.
Inconsistency with the starting lineup bedevils the Heat. Spoelstra doesn’t know his best starting five yet, and it shows with six different lineups in seven games. Moe Harkless and Meyers Leonard can start one night and not be activate the next. Kendrick Nunn, who averaged 15.3 points last season, and veteran Andre Iguodala can play heavy minutes one game and won’t play much in the next. Spoelstra needs to get this issue out of the way now with a 72 game season. If the organization wants to compete, they’ll need to maximize their best players’ playing time. However, Spoelstra needs to act fast. Every game counts more this season, plus other Eastern Conference teams will rise for the playoffs. On a good note, the Heat have great depth.
Miami added Moe Harkless, Precious Achiuwa, and Avery Bradley. They are players who embody the phrase “Heat Culture.” Defensive-minded, hard work, and grit are qualities that one must possess to be a part of a highly-esteemed organization. These players may prove to be more important down the stretch, but it’s still early. Spoelstra must slowly integrate them into the lineup. The good news is, they have the luxury of being integrated into the lineup at a quiet place. The increased offensive roles that Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro are taking and the overall depth the team has, in general, allow for that contingency to happen. As it stands, the Miami Heat aren’t in the top half of the Eastern Conference. Still Heat fans, it may not be time to panic yet.