For Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, Miami’s latest losses can be attributed to about 10 possessions each game.
For the past three weeks, Spoelstra has preached to his players about the importance of consistency and “playing to our identity.”
So far, the Heat’s players haven’t responded the way Spoelstra would like. The Heat was 3-3 in the month of December before Saturday’s game against the Wizards.
“We have 10 or so possessions where we’re not playing the way we’re capable of,” Spoelstra said. “Either it’s an effort issue or a concentration issue or guys not on the same page or one man checking out and breaking down mentally, and this is something that is correctable.”
One of the most glaring errors occurred at the end of the Heat’s loss to the Warriors on Wednesday night when Miami forward Shane Battier misread a defensive assignment and allowed a game-winning layup. Spoelstra said Battier addressed the team about the error Friday, taking full responsibility for the lapse.
But the Heat’s inconsistent play of late goes beyond defense, Spoelstra said.
“Even things offensively,” he said. “Things have been going very well for us offensively, and we’ve had some slippage there in terms of our ball movement, in terms of creating an opportunity and finding a great shot.
“[In the] beginning of the year, the ball was moving to a good shot to a better shot to the best shot, and we were really taking advantage of those opportunities.”
LINEUP SET ‘for now’
Spoelstra said he feels comfortable “for now” with the Heat’s latest starting lineup, which features Udonis Haslem at power forward instead of Battier. Battier hasn’t started a game since injuring his knee Nov. 24.
“We’ll take a look at it for a little bit,” Spoelstra said. “If I need to change it, I will. I know who our top 11 or 12 guys are. I know a lot of the times who will be playing in the fourth quarter. I know what the end of the rotations will be. We can always tweak it.”
He added that too much is made about who starts and who comes off the bench.
Praying for victims
Before taking the court for Saturday’s shootaround, the Heat players and coaches prayed together for the families and victims of the elementary school shooting in Connecticut. Transitioning to practice was difficult.
“We did our jobs; we worked,” Spoelstra said.
“I don’t think it would be genuine if we didn’t talk about it. It’s something that has affected everyone in this nation.”
For many of the players with children, including LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, the events in Connecticut were unfathomable.
“I know it’s really hit home with a lot of people who have kids, and you just think that school — especially kindergarten and first grade — would be one of the safest places in the world,” said Bosh, who said practicing and playing basketball is always tough in the wake of a national tragedy.
Heat guard Ray Allen lived 45 minutes from the site of the shootings when he played for the Boston Celtics.
“Just having two kids of my own in elementary [school], I couldn’t imagine sending them off to school and them not returning,” James said.