Spoelstra speaks on Heat’s second quarter struggles vs Pacers
Five takeaways from the Miami Heat’s 99-91 loss to the Indiana Pacers (9-6) on Friday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
1. The second quarter was really bad for the Heat (6-9), and it ended up being the difference in the game. Despite outscoring Indiana by eight over the first, third and fourth quarters, Miami just couldn’t overcome a rough second period. The Pacers began the second quarter on a 26-5 run and ended up winning the period 32-16. To say Miami’s offense struggled is an understatement, as it looked lost during stretches. Coach Erik Spoelstra even called a timeout in the middle of one of the Heat’s offensive possessions and walked back to the bench shaking his head.
“In the second quarter, there was just a six, seven-minute lull. We can’t afford that,” Spoelstra said. “We’ve had that before this season. When we say it’s got to be 48 minutes for this team, it’s not cliché, it’s not just words. That has to be the way for us and it got away from us in the second quarter.”
The Heat made just 5 of 22 shots (22.7 percent) and committed five turnovers in the quarter. The 16 points Miami scored tied a season-low for a quarter, matching the 16 it scored in the first quarter of its Oct. 24 home win over the Knicks.
“It was just like we forgot how to play for a little bit,” Heat wing player Josh Richardson said of Friday’s second quarter. “Everything was falling for them and they were attacking us. We just weren’t retaliating fast enough.”
That quarter was a big part of the Heat’s worst offensive night of the season. Miami finished the game with a season-low in points (91) and shooting percentage (37.6). Indiana’s strong defense deserves credit, as it owns the fourth-best defensive rating in the NBA.
2. Turnovers continue to be an issue for the Heat. Miami committed 18 turnovers Friday that Indiana turned into 22 points. The Heat has now finished four of its past five games with at least 17 turnovers.
The Heat is averaging the fourth-most turnovers in the league at 16.9 per game. The only teams turning the ball over more than Miami this season are the Dallas Mavericks (6-8), Phoenix Suns (3-11) and Atlanta Hawks (3-12) — all losing teams. The Heat has finished with fewer turnovers than its opponent just once this season, and it resulted in a road win over the Pistons on Nov. 5.
Miami just can’t afford to play this sloppy brand of basketball with an offense that doesn’t score a lot of points every night. The Heat needs to get as many shots at the basket as it can, and turnovers that end possessions before a shot attempt aren’t helping.
3. The Heat missed a lot of makeable shots near the rim, and it played a big role in its offensive struggles Friday. Miami outscored Indiana 36-30 in the paint, but scored 36 on an inefficient 18 of 46 shooting. That’s 39.1 percent. That’s bad. To put that into perspective, the Heat is shooting 50.1 percent from inside the paint this season.
Center Hassan Whiteside accounted for some of those interior struggles, as he finished with 12 points on 6 of 15 shooting. He missed six layups.
“You have to credit their defense,” Spoelstra said. “They protect the paint extremely well. They’re physical, they’re well-schooled. We had some opportunities there, point-blank ones that I don’t know how they didn’t drop. It wasn’t even just on one end, where you can say the rim was off. It was on both ends, tip-ins, layups. I think we were 18 for 46 in the paint tonight. I’m not a math guy, but that’s not a very good percentage.”
4. Richardson put together another solid offensive performance. On the Heat’s worst offensive night of the season, Richardson still got his. He finished with a game-high 28 points on an efficient 10 of 16 shooting, including 7 of 10 on threes.
“I felt good in warm-ups and it carried over,” Richardson said. “I think guys were finding me and the ball just happened to swing my way, and I just put it up.”
Richardson is averaging a team-high and career-high 20.6 points on 43.7 percent shooting from the field and 45.2 percent shooting from three-point range. Those are good numbers for a player who scored 12.9 points per game last season. While it hasn’t resulted in a lot of wins yet, it’s clear Richardson has taken a step forward this season. That’s a positive for Miami.
5. This next stretch is the time for Miami to turn things around. The Heat plays six of its next eight games at home. Friday marked the end of the Heat’s quick two-game trip. Miami begins a two-game homestand Sunday against LeBron James and the Lakers.
Miami is just 3-5 at home this season, but it absolutely has to find a way to take advantage of its upcoming schedule. Once this next eight-game stretch ends, the Heat heads to the West Coast for a long six-game trip. Starting that trip under .500 would be very dangerous for Miami.