Early on in the year, the Miami Heat really struggled and were one of the more disappointing teams in the league given that they were just coming off a run to the NBA Finals in the NBA Bubble last season, but then they started to play better near the All-Star break, but now as of late, they have seemed to find themselves struggling again.
A lot of the Heat’s struggles have to do with numerous players dealing with injuries right now, but overall, something about this year’s team seems a lot different than last year’s team that made it to the NBA Finals.
The only real differences in terms of talent that are gone are Derrick Jones Jr, Jae Crowder and now Kelly Olynyk, as he was traded for Victor Oladipo, but overall, this team does not always look like they are mentally ready to play.
With 10 games remaining on their schedule, the Miami Heat currently find themselves as the 7-seed in the Eastern Conference, but these next few weeks are going to be critical for them. They have a chance to potentially move out of the play-in tournament, but they could also fall in the standings all the way down to the 10-seed.
Miami has little room for error right now and given the expectations placed on them, they need to figure things out in a hurry or they could be facing a first-round exit in the playoffs. With that said let’s take a look at why exactly the Heat’s recent play is genuinely concerning.
This Miami Heat team has more “swag” than “grit”
Jimmy Butler is a veteran, All-Star talent that is used to all the attention, so it did not really get to him, but for these young guys who are in their first couple of seasons in the league, you could tell that they were really embracing all of the attention.
Now, reality is starting to set back in and it almost seems like this team, particularly their young talents, are almost expecting good things to happen without them putting in the work. This team just looks very calm with no sense of urgency on the court, which is a big part of why they have been struggling recently.
The Heat have always been known to be a tough, defensive-minded team with a certain aspect of “grit” to their play-style, but they don’t have that same fighting tenacity this year. They need to go back to their roots and find this “grit” before the playoffs if they are to have any success moving forward.
Victor Oladipo’s return is questionable at this point
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Early in the month of April when the Miami Heat were taking on the Lakers, Victor Oladipo was putting together a really solid game in his fourth game in a Heat uniform, but after going up for a two-handed dunk, Oladipo immediately reached down and grabbed at his right knee in visible pain.
Since then, Victor Oladipo has missed 10 straight games for the Miami Heat and nothing has really been said about the extent of his injury or his timetable for return. The original details that surfaced about Oladipo’s injury is that he “tweaked” the area around his previous quad injury, but the extent of the damage and severity of the injury is still unknown.
There is optimism around the Heat organization that Oladipo will be able to return at some point this season, but with time running out in the regular season, something needs to happen quickly in terms of Victor Oladipo returning because he has not really played with this team.
You cannot just throw him out on the court, especially in the play-in tournament and expect him to be a great player when he has barely played with the Miami Heat and been introduced to their system!
Victor Oladipo is a fantastic player and a great overall talent, but if he does not return to the court before the playoffs, this could definitely be a major concern for the Miami Heat and their chances of making this season just as special as last year.
Recent play has proven that Miami Heat do not have a “go-to” scorer
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The Heat added Victor Oladipo at the trade deadline in hopes that he could aid them offensively, but with him currently out, as well as other key players dealing with injuries, the Miami Heat do not really have that “go-to” scoring option that other teams around the league have.
When you look at some of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, a lot of them have multiple All-Star level talents, but they all have that one guy that they lean on for production when they need it. Philly has Joel Embiid, Milwaukee has Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Knicks have Julius Randle and the Hawks have Trae Young, but who do the Heat have?
Jimmy Butler is a great player and had some terrific performances in the NBA Bubble last year, but he has never really been known to be a dynamic, high-level scoring option. Bam Adebayo is a great, young center in this league, but again, he is not a guy that can be leaned on for production every time down the court, so who is the Heat’s best scoring option?
This question really needs to be answered soon and if Jimmy Butler is going to step up again, he will need to have some of the best games of his career like he did in the NBA Bubble because overall, the lack of offensive productivity on this Heat roster is going to be their downfall.
Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson have been really solid in their first few seasons in the league, but they are not the star-studded talents that some make them out to be and are nothing more than key role players in the Heat’s system.
Without Victor Oladipo, all the weight of the Miami Heat is going to fall on the shoulders of Jimmy Butler once again, but with how much better the Eastern Conference is, it is hard to see a scenario play out where the Heat go on another postseason run, especially if Oladipo is sidelined.