Miami Heat Fans ‘See the Optimism’, and That’s the Worst Part


When a guy on a 10-day contract is your teams leading scorer, there are two ways to look at it. It can be an encouraging sign from a young player, or it can be representative of a team that is struggling to find any continuity or consistency.

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra says he thinks Heat fans see the former.

Tyler Johnson was Miami’s leading scorer with 18 points off the bench. His second 10-day contract of the season expires in just a couple days and the Heat will have to decide whether or not to keep him around (to which Spo said “we’ll see“).

The thing is, Heat fans do see the optimism.

They see what is possible with this team, the ceiling it can reach and things it can achieve. They see it during wins against the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers and Cleveland Cavaliers.

They also see how frustrating it can be when they lose to the Minnesota Timberwolves, blow leads against the Dallas Mavericks and Detroit Pistons or fail to score 80 points in an NBA game.

Frankly, it’s maddening.

It would be one thing if this team was just bad. At 21-29, this team has just two more wins than the tanking Boston Celtics. Ask anyone which team is better and not even the most delusional (okay, maybe the most delusional) Celtics fan would say their team is better than the one in Miami.

The Denver Nuggets, a team whose coach is being slow-motion fired in the most Jacque Vaughnian sort of way, has won two fewer games in a tougher Western Conference than the Heat. Surely the Heat with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade–two of the top 15 scorers in the league–are better than the Nuggets.

That’s the thing, Wade’s missed game. Bosh has missed games. Chris Andersen, Luol Deng and now even Hassan Whiteside have missed games (not to mention Josh McRoberts was lost for the season).

In fact, Wade, Bosh and Whiteside have played in just 10 games together for a total of 80 minutes. Ask Luol Deng to be involved and those four guys have shared the court for just seven games for just 44 minutes in seven games.

That lineup has had an offensive rating of 114.7 points while allowing just 84 points per 100 possessions–a net rating of 30.7 that is the highest of any four-man group including Whiteside that has played substantial minutes, per

When Wade is running the point, Bosh is spacing the floor, Deng is cutting and complementing and Whiteside is devastating teams in the paint the Heat look like a team ready for the playoffs.

But when they roll out with Justin Hamilton as the first guy off the bench and Johnson leading the team in points it seems like a completely different team that makes fans beg for them to tank.

You can’t blame it on health. I mean, you can. But Pat Riley knew what he was getting himself into when he signed Deng, with way too many miles on his odometer, to a two-year deal. He knew what he was doing when he signed an historically fragile McRoberts and Danny Granger. Or when he re-signed a 36-year-old Birdman.

This was a team built by glass playing a game in which rocks are thrown around. Fragilitiy wasn’t going to be exception or an act in bad luck or karma, it was the rules they were going to be playing by. Trading health for basketball I.Q. and experience.

That said, the degree to which these injuries occurred and the timing have been a bit unlucky-ish. But luck is a result of the situation you put yourself in, and the Heat were tempting fate.

But without those injuries the Heat wouldn’t have found Hassan Whiteside. That’s the silver lining. That’s the crux of the optimism Spoelstra is talking about and fans are seeing.

If the Heat can just tip-toe into the playoffs and put the pieces back together by then, then just maybe fans will reach the light at the end of the tunnel. When it matters most.

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