First Bad Loss of the Season: Now What?

Recap6 years ago4 min readAlex Toledo

Ugh. That was ugly. The HEAT had their first bad loss of the season last night and I’ve never seen a fan base morph into lowly (Pre-Embiid) Philadelphia 76ers fans so effortlessly. It’s almost like we knew this team wouldn’t reach our expectations.

The Miami HEAT flew to Oklahoma City, waited around for three boring Oklahoma City days and three *uneasy Skirvin nights only to stroll into the Chesapeake Energy Arena and get mauled to the tune of a 97-85 final score, which somehow makes the game seem closer than it was.

From the start, the HEAT struggled to get much of anything going and, well, played ugly. They were down double digits for most of the game outside of the occasional hope-retaining run. Like the one that cut the deficit to just eight by halftime, only to finish the third quarter down 22 and then, well, you know. It wasn’t easy to watch.

The HEAT shot a shockingly bad 36.9 percent from the field and 23.5 percent from three. The team also posted a 96.5 Defensive Rating which is pretty good! That is until you see their Offensive Rating, which was a putrid 90.7. They sported a 45.4 True Shooting Percentage and a 10.2 Assist Ratio, which, to add some context, if those were their season averages they would both be worst in the league by a pretty wide margin.

The HEAT won’t be winning very many games when Tyler Johnson, James Johnson, Willie Reed and freakin’ LUKE BABBIT are the only players on the team who didn’t look particularly horrendous. And look, the only player who played more than 20 minutes to shoot over 45% from the field was Luke Babbit, but with the caveat that he hit just 1 of his 4 three-point attempts. If Luke Babbit isn’t hitting ⅖, (40 percent and also his career three-point percentage), THEN WHAT’S THE POINT OF ALL THIS?

What I’m really trying to tell you is: their offense was very very very very bad. I’m not sure if it’s clear yet. BAD. This was evident to anyone who watched the game and/or box-score watched. Sad!

What too many fans don’t seem to understand is: this team is actually not good on that side of the ball. They aren’t what they were last night, but pretty not-great nonetheless. Their shooting, ball movement, and general offensive fluidity is far too inconsistent. Through the first couple weeks of the season, the HEAT are tied for third-worst, (with the Orlando Magic and New Orleans Pelicans), in the league in Offensive Rating at 96.3.

But look! Even though Enes Kanter shot 10-of-12 and Victor Oladipo played well, the HEAT held Russell Westbrook to 5 of 16 shooting, (which was more horrible than the HEAT’s shooting this game), and 5 turnovers! Wouldn’t that be the ideal way to defend that Thunder team? Contain Russell Westbrook, as well as you possibly, can and let the rest of the team beat you? The HEAT actually are really good at defense. Their Defensive Rating through the first six games is 99.4, good for sixth in the league. So, it isn’t all so bad! It’s not so bleak.

This is the fourth loss of the season, but the first really bad loss. The HEAT beat the Magic and the Sacremento Kings in the same ways that they competed and were able to keep games interesting against the Charlotte Hornets, San Antonio Spurs, and Toronto Raptors. Even through loss, with above-average defensive activity and execution but with a lackluster, (and lack talent), offense. It’s what happens when the team heavily relies upon its defensively-gifted but offensively-challenged building blocks. They simply aren’t there yet.

We need to manage our expectations. This team will probably not make a deep playoff run, and could, very easily, not make the Playoffs at all. But they could! It feels like the majority know this, but still, struggle to cope with losing on a regular basis. On the other hand, we need to not make sweeping negative judgments on the team after a one-game sample, either. This team is growing and is dealing with obvious growing pains, but still competing. The team lost its two best players from the season before and have competed in every single game before this one. They will continue to play their asses off and compete. #TankSZN isn’t in full force just yet, guys.

Now, off to a night filled with buckets of tears, grief, agony, and celebration.