Miami Heat

Turnovers and lineup questions are cause for concern as Heat falls below .500

Boston Celtics’ Kyrie Irving, left, reaches in to knock the ball away from Miami Heat’s Bam Adebayo during the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 21, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Boston Celtics’ Kyrie Irving, left, reaches in to knock the ball away from Miami Heat’s Bam Adebayo during the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 21, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson) AP

Five takeaways from the Heat’s 107-99 loss to the Celtics on Monday at TD Garden:

The lineup that was working so efficiently in December has sputtered in January:

It was another rough night for the Heat starters, who provided negative impact in Miami’s 107-99 loss to the Celtics. And it might be enough to cause Heat coach Erik Spoelstra to change things up.

“I don’t know,” Spoelstra replied when asked whether he would consider changing his lineup. “As always we’ll take a look at it. That was a great lineup for us during the month of December.”

The Heat’s five starters accounted for only a third of the total scoring on Monday while committing 10 of the the team’s 20 turnovers. Only Josh Richardson with 11 points managed to reach double digits among the Heat’s five starters.

About those turnovers. They’re starting to mount and proved costly in Monday’s loss:

The Heat’s 20 turnovers led to 28 Celtics points, and Spoelstra isn’t happy with the recent trend of sloppiness.

“That formula of 20 turnovers for 28 points, that felt like October and November for our ball club,” Spoelstra said. “Our turnovers have been creeping back up, and that’s been costly.”

The costliest of them all might have been the 20th and final one on Monday after the Heat had cut the Celtics lead to six points with under a minute to go and Justise Winslow turned the ball over to Kyrie Irving.

“Our turnovers were way down for the month of December,” Spoelstra said. “This is almost like we went back six weeks coughing up all these possessions. It makes it extremely hard to find rhythm when we’re turning it over that often.”

Dion Waiters continues to make a strong impression off the bench. Now what?

Of course Waiters isn’t happy about his lack of playing time. But expect for him to see more if he continues to perform the way he has lately.

One game after finishing with 21 points, Waiters added 18 to share the team lead Monday with Derrick Jones Jr.

“He’s handled this the only way you can,” Spoelstra said of Waiters, who was fined recently for voicing his displeasure about his lack of playing time. “The minutes you have, you have to be productive in them. He’s played well the last couple of games.”

Waiters sat out the entire first quarter Monday as the Celtics were building a 10-point lead. But he played all 12 minutes in the second quarter when the Heat rallied to tie the score at halftime.

Derrick Jones Jr. had another nice performance at both ends of the court:

Spoelstra continues to show confidence in Jones with increased playing time, and it’s easy to see why.

Jones came off the bench to score 18 points and grab a team-high nine rebounds Monday, earning more praise from Spoelstra.

“For a young player, it’s unique to continue to commit to our player development program, which is not for everybody, and wait for your opportunities,” Spoelstra said.

Spoelstra tied Pat Riley in the Heat record books:

It wasn’t the outcome he would have liked. But Spoelstra coached his 849th Heat game on Monday, tying Riley’s team record. Spoelstra has won 506 games to Riley’s 454.

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