Why Bam remains bullish on Heat’s chances. And the Heat’s East/West disparity widens
The Heat enters this week much closer to a play-in seed than a top-four seed, but Bam Adebayo continues to carry a glass-half-full perspective.
Adebayo said he believes the Heat is as good as any team in the East.
“More so if we get stops and run, we’re one of the best teams in the East,” he said. “It doesn’t have to do anything with who’s out or who’s in. I have always felt if we got out and ran and got stops, we are the team that has the best chance of winning the game.”
Jimmy Butler said: “I feel like the whole league right now is in a little rut/funk and everybody’s kind of like right there when it comes to records of lapses, which is not what we want to do.
“I think [the fact a lot of teams are around .500] is because a lot of guys have missed games, and you can’t get a rhythm of who’s going to be in the lineup, who’s going to be out. You don’t know who’s playing night to night. We’re a prime example of that. That’s why teams are so up and down. But when guys get healthy and they get their guys back, I think it’s going to look a lot different…. We’ll be in good shape.”
Erik Spoelstra put it this way last week: “We had a devastating loss the other night at Charlotte, and then to keep it in perspective, you wake up the next morning and even with only being plus-five, we had the ninth-best record in the league.
“That’s a head-scratcher to me. Usually you have the top teams, maybe a handful of middle teams and the rest were tanking. That’s not the case any more. I think that’s good.”
New York’s win against Philadelphia on Sunday left Miami (29-25) just one half game ahead of the No. 7 Knicks for the sixth seed and two games ahead of No. 8 Atlanta. The teams that finish seventh, eighth, ninth and 10 must participate in the play-in round.
The Heat entered Monday 8.5 games back of the top-seed Celtics (37-16). Miami is 5-5 against the five teams ahead of them in the East.
THIS AND THAT
▪ Of the Heat’s 28 remaining games, 23 are against Eastern Conference teams.
The Heat has been much better against the West (16-9) than against the East (13-16).
After a 1-3 Eastern road trip last week, the Heat is just 4-9 on the road against Eastern Conference teams. Thirteen of Miami’s final 28 are road games against Eastern Conference teams.
The Heat’s five games against Western Conference teams are all at home: Houston Friday, Denver next Monday, Utah March 13, Memphis March 15 and Dallas April 1. Miami is 8-2 at home against Western Conference teams.
▪ Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau, during the Heat’s recent road, said Butler’s “greatest strength” is “the way he sees the game. The ability to draw fouls, the havoc he creates… guarding all five positions. I look at him and I don’t think his stats – which are good – reflect the true value he has to a team. He’s the ultimate competitor.”
▪ Among players on teams with winning records (minimum 30 games), Heat center Dewayne Dedmon has the third-worst plus at minus 3.4 points per game. Only Denver’s Jeff Green and Phoenix’s Torrey Craig are worse among teams above .500.
The Heat has been outscored by 101 points in Dedmon’s 350 minutes.
The Heat’s leaders in plus-minus are Adebayo (plus 134), Tyler Herro (plus 80), Gabe Vincent (plus 40), Butler (plus 36) and Caleb Martin (plus 22). Kyle Lowry is a minus 14.
▪ If Adebayo scores in double figures at home against Indiana on Wednesday and Houston Friday, he will tie Dwyane Wade for the sixth-longest double figure scoring streak in Heat history, at 67. LeBron James holds the franchise record at 294.
Wade also did it for streaks of 148, 111 and 78 games, and Alonzo Mourning had a 75-game double figure scoring streak.
▪ The Heat has attempted more shots from midrange than three-point range in eight of its last 12 games. This happened in just nine of the Heat’s first 42 games of the season.
With midrange shots considered less efficient than three-point attempts, the Heat’s location effective field-goal percentage (if a team shot league average from each location based on its shot chart) is ranked third-worst in the NBA since the start of January, according to Cleaning the Glass.
Here’s our Monday piece on the Heat deciding to consider Kyle Lowry trades, and more trade-deadline news.