Even just a week or so ago, things looked great for the Miami Heat. They’d battled to the top of the competitive Eastern Conference, and looked like they would safely be able to secure homecourt advantage for at least the first three rounds of the playoffs.
Now, though, they’ve imploded. It’s been an embarrassing last four games for the boys from South Beach, who have managed to do the following:
- Lose to the Sixers who sat James Harden and Joel Embiid
- Lose to a Warriors team that didn’t have Steph Curry, Draymond Green, or Klay Thompson
- Blew a 17-point lead to the Knicks
- Lose by 110-95 at home to the Brooklyn Nets, and were down by as much as 37 points
Thanks to this latest run, their record of 47-28 has dropped them to second place, behind the Sixers (46-27). To make things worse, they are now being trailed by the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks, who both sport 46-28 records. The Celtics have gone 9-1 in their last 10 games, while the defending champs have gone 7-3. If they continue to lose, the Heat could conceivably fall to anywhere between the fourth and sixth seed when the season ends. With only seven games left to play, that’s a lot of extra stress to put on a team that’s already got low morale.
Everyone and their mother already saw the incident between Jimmy Butler, Erik Spoelstra, and Udonis Haslem a few days ago. Butler, who I gave the benefit of the doubt over the years, is really looking like the locker room cancer that some people have made him out to be. It’s not a good look when the oldest guy on the roster and the coach start losing their shit at you, especially when he signed a massive extension last August.
Butler’s been wildly inconsistent this season, as evidenced by him dropping 30 points on the Knicks as they blew a lead, and then following that up with seven points, six rebounds, and four assists on 2 of 9 shooting against the Nets. When you’re the team’s highest-paid player, you can be getting outscored by five bench players like he was against the Nets.
Miami fans aren’t appreciating the sudden drop in play, either. Twitter’s been pretty merciless lately.
I don’t particularly know how the Heat will fix things, because I’m not privy to what’s really going on behind the scenes, especially after the altercation between Butler, Spoelstra and Haslem. For a team that looked like it was entertaining thoughts of making a serious run at the NBA Finals, things suddenly look bleak at the end of the regular season. Let’s see how they close things out. It’s not too late to right the ship, but now the spotlight and the pressure will be on the Heat.