‘’D-Wade got the last dance, I got the last stance,” Miami Heat Udonis Haslem climbs basketball rim
A six-pack of Heat notes on a Tuesday night:
▪ There was a lot of talk Tuesday about whether the Heat, primarily coach Erik Spoelstra, should have been angrier Monday night after not only a sixth consecutive home loss, but one to a team that had dropped 17 games in a row.
Heat captain Udonis Haslem, who has served up his share of angry, inspiring pep talks/tirades over the years, did not believe Monday night or Tuesday’s midday practice demanded such a reaction from players or coaches.
Haslem indicated he doesn’t believe it’s time for fits of anger such as chair throwing, but it is “time for solutions,” he said Tuesday.
“Whether it’s solutions coming from anger or coming from a place where you’re speaking calmly, you’re just looking for solutions. No finger-pointing, none of that right now. Just solutions of going down these last 20 plus games for how we can be at our best.”
So what solutions are realistic?
“We’re just going to dig into the film, be as tedious as possible with corrections and holding guys accountable,” Haslem said.
But is it possible this is simply not the right mix of players?
“I don’t believe that,” Haslem said. “I believe we have the right mix, the right players. The biggest thing is to put it all together and be consistent.”
Of the Heat standing seven games under .500 and 10th in the East, Haslem said: “You don’t envision yourself being here but this is where we are. The NBA season takes a life of its own. It can be unpredictable.”
▪ When Spoelstra was asked by another reporter why he didn’t express anger shortly after the Heat lost to the team with the league’s worst record, he answered: “We don’t have to express anything to you. We owe nothing to any of you. We can express our disappointment and anger to ourselves.”
And he’s absolutely right.
But Spoelstra’s timing has been curious this season.
About 15 hours removed from one of the Heat’s most impressive wins of the season, a 115-99 nationally televised thumping of Boston on Jan. 10, Spoelstra conveyed anger during his media session, saying repeatedly “I’m not happy about where we are.”
But he was Mr. Positivity after the Phoenix loss, noting “there are a lot of good things going on with this team.”
Perhaps this curiously upbeat approach from Spoelstra after two bad home losses – and a 5-13 record in the past 18 games - is merely an unspoken admission that there isn’t much more to be extracted from this roster, that players aren’t dogging it and the results are simply a reflection of the modest talent. But only Spoelstra knows that for sure.
▪ Should this team be better than the current record? Heat president Pat Riley suggested last year that this team - when healthy - is capable of being more than bottom-level playoff team. (And Miami isn’t even that at the moment.)
That question elicited varied responses Tuesday.
“We are what our record is,” Dwyane Wade said. “I wish we were [better]. It’s not that we’re not playing well. We’re not finding ways to win. We have our moments like we should win, then [as was the case against] Sacramento and Golden State, [we] figure out a way to lose.”
Josh Richardson said: “We’re better than our record, but I think every team under .500 is going to say that.”
The 26-33 record is “a little bit [surprising],” Goran Dragic said. “We had a lot of breakdowns this season [where] we didn’t play well. But everyone counted us out the year we were 11-30 [and ultimately finished 41-41]. It’s not easy when you have in and out guys. But everyone is going through that. It’s not only us.”
Dion Waiters, asked if the Heat should be as good as the teams directly above them (Brooklyn, Detroit, Charlotte, Orlando), said: “Absolutely. But they’re there. They are where we want to be. We’ve got a run in us. It’s got to turn eventually.”
▪ Don’t take the lack of displays of anger as an attitude of indifference. These players want to win, and there is absolutely no effort to tank from the coaching staff or players, as some have suggested on social media.
“This is my job. I really care,” said Bam Adebayo, whose potential go-ahead shot with 5.3 seconds rimmed out Monday. “Losing that one the way we did was definitely tough on me. Definitely lost sleep.”
The NBA announced Tuesday that Adebayo was fouled on the play, and that a foul should have been called. But the NBA also said that the Heat benefitted from multiple late-game bad calls.
▪ The Heat has identified the problem. It just can’t solve it.
“We have lulls in games,” Richardson said. “We have a couple minutes where we’re not sharp.”
Said Wade: “We have to figure out a way to cut those runs short.”
If it hasn’t yet happened, it’s difficult to envision it happening over the final six weeks.
▪ With Golden State visiting on Wednesday, Richardson was asked about the Feb. 10 game against Golden State, when he scored a career-high 37 points.
“I got hot and I was taking advantage of the switches,” he said.
Does he expect the Warriors to be focused on him more on Wednesday? “Possibly, but we have a team where a lot of guys can hurt you so they can’t really lock in on one person,” he said.