The Heat’s recent losses have almost all come down to the wire. The team’s seeming inability to execute in late-game situations is a major concern, but the losses could still be explained away. The Heat’s previous 7 losses had come by an average of less than four points, and they hadn’t lost a game that LeBron played in by more than six points since November. The Heat weren’t where they wanted to be, but the games they lost had come down to one missed shot, one defensive lapse, one questionable call.
That wasn’t the case on Friday night. The Heat were coming off a massive collapse against the Orlando Magic, and were not in the correct mindset to be playing the toughest game on their schedule. The Heat were on the back end of a back-to-back, and the Spurs were 28-2 at home. The Heat were going to need to bring their absolute A game to have a chance. To put things plainly, they didn’t.
The Spurs blitzed the Heat with a 36-12 first quarter, and although the Heat put up a bit of a fight in the second quarter, the Spurs didn’t lose control of the game the way the Heat had against the Magic. Miami’s “big three” combined for 62 points, but they were no match for San Antonio’s balanced attack. Eight San Antonio players scored in double figures, including all five of their starters, and San Antonio made 17 of its 28 three-point attempts.
The Heat need to go back to the drawing board, and fast: they have a date with the Bulls on Sunday, and games against the Blazers and Lakers next week. The Heat will be in the playoffs, and they will be dangerous, but you have to wonder what effect loss after loss to the best team in the league will have on them when the games really count.
Meanwhile, it’s time to start acknowledging the Spurs as the best team in basketball. They are 51-11, the Heat are the only team with a better scoring margin (although that may have just changed), and they just beat the Heat by 30 points. We won’t know any of this for sure until the playoffs are over, but right now the Spurs look like the team the Heat were supposed to be.