A 7-13 start now feels like a distant memory for the Miami Heat. The Heat finished 2018 with 10 wins in its last 15 games to move atop the Southeast division standings and solidify its spot as a likely playoff team in the Eastern Conference
Miami found a formula which works in the final month of the year. Now the Heat will try to make it carry over into 2019. On the Heat Check podcast, Miami beat writer Anthony Chiang and David Wilson try to figure out if the Heat can make it happen.
There are positive signs for Miami (17-18) even after a 113-104 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday. Even in the year-ending loss, the Heat held the Timberwolves to just 40.4 percent shooting. Defense is probably the most important part of the formula, as Miami’s last eight wins have all come when holding the opponent to fewer than 100 points.
The magical 100-point threshold isn’t just tied to defense, though. The Heat’s bench has been one of the most productive in the NBA in the past 15 games and, with the help of the bench, Miami is typically winning the rebounding battle. While most of the league is trying to play fast and space the floor, the Heat has found a way to win by playing big and slow.
And suddenly this isn’t just a small sample size for Miami. The Heat has spent almost half the season playing well. Now it’s time for Miami to climb past .500 for the first time and lock up yet another playoff berth in 2019.