The Miami Heat fell 109-105 against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night at the Kaseya Center and have now lost four consecutive games, with three losses coming on the road to the Bucks, Celtics, and Timberwolves, respectively. The Heat, now standing at 1-4 on the season, is off to its worst five-game start since opening the 2007-08 season at 0-5. Miami continues their homestand on Friday night as they host the Washington Wizards in its first group play game of the NBA’s inaugural in-season tournament.
“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves at this point of the year; it’s still early, obviously. But at some point, this has to matter to us. We can’t keep losing games and think it’s okay.” – Tyler Herro
After a winless three-game road trip, Coach Erik Spoelstra said it is an “important week” for the Heat before they played the Nets on Wednesday. Unfortunately, the important week has not begun on the right foot with an upsetting come-from-behind loss to a Nets team that is missing three of its starters. Nets’ starting center Nic Claxton was out with a sprained left ankle, starting guard Spencer Dinwiddie was sidelined with a sprained left ankle too, and starting forward Cameron Johnson sat out with a strained left calf during the Nets’ victory.
“I just think the ability to sustain is a skill and a habit, that’s what we need to get to. There were a lot better things tonight, certainly from an activity standpoint and disruptiveness. You can see the speed. But there were key swing moments where that’s often the deal. If you’re playing in a position of control and playing with a double-digit lead for most of the game, you have to treat that accordingly with respect.” – Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra
The Heat held a 16-point lead in the first half at one point before entering the break with a 56-46 edge, despite turning the ball over 13 times. Miami would build a lead as large as 15 points with 4:37 remaining in the third quarter, but it would all come apart from there. The Nets would then go on a 37-15 run and take a seven-point lead with 5:37 left in the fourth quarter behind an onslaught of three-pointers. Brooklyn shot 9 of 17 (52.9 percent) from three-point range in the final two quarters to complete the comeback. Forward Dorian Finney-Smith led the Nets’ comeback by scoring all 15 of his points in the second half on 3-of-4 shooting from beyond the arc.
“It’s a right-now situation, you know what I’m saying. You don’t want to ever lose games at home or away. So we got to figure it out now. … At the end of the day, we need to correct it and we will. But it’s all about right now, winning now.” – Jimmy Butler
The Heat started the final quarter with an eight-point lead but were outscored by the Nets 34-22. Miami could not buy a shot, going 9 of 24 (37.5 percent) from the floor in the fourth quarter, while the Nets pulled away with the victory.
Tyler Herro led the Heat with a game-high 30 points on 12-of-23 shooting from the field and 6-of-10 shooting from the three-point line. Bam Adebayo scored 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field and grabbed 14 rebounds, while Butler added 20 points on 7-of-16 shooting from the field, seven rebounds, and three assists. What stood out most was that the rest of the Heat’s roster combined for only 34 points on 12-of-40 (30 percent) shooting from the floor on Wednesday. Mikal Bridges finished with a team-high 21 points for the Nets, along with seven rebounds and five assists. The Nets also took advantage of a season-high 18 turnovers, 13 of them committed in the first half, from the Heat to score 25 points off those opportunities. Miami’s turnovers also led to Brooklyn scoring 24 fast-break points.
“We got to put a full game together. I think all four losses, at points throughout the games, you’ve seen flashes of what we are and what we can be. But sustaining consistency is the same thing. We have to do that. We’ll win some games, but we’re going to lose most of the games if we can’t come up with solutions and put a full 48 minutes together.” – Tyler Herro
The Heat has been missing key bench players in all its first five games, with various combinations of players out due to injuries and rest. Josh Richardson and Haywood Highsmith were injured in the season opener. Caleb Martin, Josh Richardson, and Haywood Highsmith were all out with injuries in the second game. Jimmy Butler was rested, and Kevin Love, Haywood Highsmith, Caleb Martin, and Josh Richardson were all injured in the third game. Bam Adebayo, Haywood Highsmith, and Caleb Martin sat out with injuries in the fourth game. In the fifth game on Wednesday, Caleb Martin was out for the fourth consecutive game due to lingering left knee pain, and Kevin Love missed his second game of the season due to a left shoulder contusion.
The Heat has clearly not had the best luck in terms of roster health to open this season, and they hope it doesn’t mirror the 2022-2023 regular season when Miami finished with the second-most missed games in the NBA (289) due to injury.
“I’m not going to talk about anybody’s injuries anymore. If anybody is hurt, if they’re not available, all they have to do is focus on being available. That’s it. I’m not talking about any injuries or who’s in or who’s out. I know who’s playing tonight. That’s all I’m focused on.” – Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra
Rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. earned his second NBA start for the Heat in place of the injured Kevin Love, but he faced challenges. Jaquez had a tough first quarter, going 0 for 5 from the floor and 0 for 4 from beyond the arc, resulting in zero points. However, he made an impact defensively with two steals and one block in the first quarter. It took until the third quarter, with 8:11 left, for Jaquez to score his first points of the night on a put-back layup. Jaquez ended the game with two points, shooting 1 for 9 from the field and 0 for 6 on three-pointers. So far in the first five games, Jaquez’s shooting stats are 10 of 27 (37 percent) from the field and 3 of 14 (21.4 percent) from three-point range.
“Jaime, I think he still did a bunch of winning things tonight. Of course, everybody will just look at the three-point shooting line. But his game isn’t defined just by that,” said Erik Spoelstra.
Haywood Highsmith was able to make his season debut after missing the first four games with a knee injury. Highsmith finished his season debut with nine points, four rebounds, and two assists in 22 minutes off the bench while playing with a brace on his left knee. “I wasn’t playing for a minute, so I’m trying to get back into the groove of things, trying to find my rhythm out there and the spots I’m supposed to be at defensively,” Highsmith said. “But it felt good to be out there.” After shooting an impressive mark of 9 for 15 (60 percent) on threes in the preseason, Highsmith shot 3 for 4 from beyond the arc in his first game of the 2023-2024 regular season on Wednesday.
“It was great to have Haywood back,” Spoelstra said. “He was in a great rhythm in the preseason and training camp and in September, so it was just unfortunate that in that last [preseason] game he had such an odd mishap [with his knee]. But it didn’t affect his rhythm, and he looked great again tonight. “You can see the things that he does defensively and on the glass. He’s improved so much on his bust outs. It helps our pace, and he didn’t look out of rhythm to me tonight at all.”
Despite the Heat’s recent struggles and giving up a 16-point lead which eventually led to a loss to the Nets, Wednesday was a monumental moment for Coach Erik Spoelstra. He turned 53 years old on Wednesday, and the game against the Nets marked his 1,200th regular-season game as a head coach, all of them with the Heat franchise. Spoelstra is only the third in NBA history to coach 1,000 or more games with the same franchise for his entire career, joining Gregg Popovich (San Antonio Spurs) and Al Attles (Golden State Warriors).
“We don’t want to dig this hole too deep. So that’s the concern because the season starts going like this, then obviously you get to the [trade] deadline and you don’t know what’s going to happen. That’s the concern because we got a great group of guys; we just got to figure it out.” – Bam Adebayo
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