There will be difficult stretches in the Heat’s schedule this season. The current collection of days is not one of them.
Saturday’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers was the back half of an 11-day stretch featuring just two games. The Heat had three days off after its six-game road trip followed by two days during the Thanksgiving holiday. Miami doesn’t play again until Thursday against the Spurs at AmericanAirlines Arena.
“It’s crazy,” Heat forward Mike Miller said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
The schedule is so light by NBA standards it’s as if Miller was back in college playing for the University of Florida.
From a scheduling standpoint, the break comes during a favorable month. Beginning with the Heat’s victory against the Bucks on Wednesday and ending with a game against the Timberwolves on Dec.18, the Heat has 10 games at home and one away. The lone road date during that 28-day stretch is a quick trip to Washington for a game against the Wizards.
“We look at it that you play the schedule you are given,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “There are so many different scenarios during the course of a long 82-game season. We are going to try to be productive during the this stretch.”
The Heat focused on its defense during Friday’s practice and will do so again this week. Though it has improved considerably since the beginning of the season, the Heat’s defense is still ranked among the bottom third of NBA teams (22nd). The Heat was allowing 99.7 points per game entering Saturday’s game against the Cavaliers.
“The consistency on the defensive side of the floor has to get better,” Spoelstra said.
Up and down
If there has been one consistent theme about Mario Chalmers this season it’s that he has been frustratingly inconsistent. Compared to the beginning of last season, when Chalmers led the Heat in three-point shooting, it’s a disappointing trend.
“When he’s consistent, we are a much, much better basketball team,” Spoelstra said. “He’s the heart of [the offense] for us.”
Chalmers was averaging 6.9 points and 4.8 assists compared to 1.8 turnovers per game entering Saturday. He’s shooting .345 from three-point range. With players such as Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis and Shane Battier shooting well from outside, Spoelstra isn’t worried so much about Chalmers’ shooting percentages as he is about his ability to control the tempo of a game.
“Offensively, can he get us to the pace and the space?” Spoelstra said at Friday’s practice. “Can he do it efficiently? Can he do it without turning it over? Can he read the game when it’s getting a little bit sloppy and go, ‘OK, now the pace needs to be a little bit more controlled.’”
Dwyane Wade counts his calories during the season, even on Thanksgiving. While Wade hosted about 60 people on Thanksgiving, he didn’t eat like a king.
“I don’t eat a lot on Thanksgiving,” Wade said. “It’s the only day I can really get to the dessert.”
Wade’s favorite holiday dessert? Sweet potato pie. He had two slices. The highlight of the day was spending so much quality time with family and friends.
“It was an unbelievable moment for my family to come together and just enjoy a thankful holiday moment, minutes, seconds and just be blessed,” Wade said. “That was the best thing about it. Drama-free, it was easy.”