106-87 on Wednesday night, the Miami Heat dropped to..."/> 106-87 on Wednesday night, the Miami Heat dropped to..."/>

Miami Heat struggling as season nears halfway mark

Jan 19, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) reacts from the court against the Milwaukee Bucks at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Robert Duyos-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 19, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) reacts from the court against the Milwaukee Bucks at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Robert Duyos-USA TODAY Sports /

After losing to the Washington Wizards 106-87 on Wednesday night, the Miami Heat dropped to 23-20, placing them sixth in the Eastern Conference. And although there is still half a season left of basketball to play, the team is not exactly performing up to the standards of neither the franchise, nor the fan base.

The Heat started off on a strong foot this year. Chris Bosh recovered from his blood clots. Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic re-signed. Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson were drafted. And Gerald Green and Amar’e Stoudemire were brought on board.

Miami showed promise by way of their rookies and the likes of Tyler Johnson during Summer League play, winning six games in a row (with an overall record of 6-4). They pulled off a win over the now 36-6 San Antonio Spurs in preseason. And went on several winning streaks, including victories against the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Wade is averaging 18.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists, clearly having found a fountain of youth. Hassan Whiteside is getting a double-double on most nights, even recording a triple-double via 14 points, 13 rebounds and 12 blocks.

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And yet, the Heat are struggling. Badly.

So what gives?

For starters, although Heat Nation may still be counting their lucky stars that things are nowhere as bad as they were last season, the team is not exactly healthy.

Dragic is out with a calf injury, poking quite a hole in Miami’s offensive structure. He himself may not have been putting up impressive numbers, but losing a starter throws off any squad. Wade and Dragic have clearly formed a close bond, and after not having a chance to play alongside one another last year, the guard and Bosh have also gotten into a rhythm.

Josh McRoberts, who seems to be riding a never-ending carousel of ailments, is out again with a knee problem: the last time McRoberts played was on December 9.

Beno Udrih, Dragic’s backup, strained his neck.

Chris Andersen is still battling a bad knee.

Wade sat out last Friday and in Wednesday’s loss against the Wizards with a shoulder injury, while Johnson is playing through one.

And now, Whiteside has strained his oblique and Luol Deng was poked in the eye.

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The good news is, most health concerns come and go. Whiteside was already out earlier this year with tendinitis in his knee. As was Luol Deng (pulled hamstring). And Gerald Green overcame whatever landed him in the hospital.

The bad news is, playing with an almost-exclusively hurt team is well…a recipe for disaster. Even worse? There is no quick fix.

Unfortunately, this is not Miami’s only woe.

3-point shooting, or lack thereof, is also a cause for concern.

In the NBA, only four teams make fewer 3’s a game, five attempt fewer and six shoot a lower percentage.

And although eight players attempt at least one 3-point shot per game, Bosh and Johnson alone are above average in accuracy. While Green can certainly get hot, for now his game is still inconsistent.

There is really only one answer moving forward, in order to fix these two major problems and beyond.

A trade.

The Heat need to unload some salaries and bring on solid long-shooters, who can be counted on day in and day out.

It is definitely admirable for both head coach Erik Spoelstra and president Pat Riley to stand behind their group of guys and believe in their success. And make no mistake, this is a winning organization. But more changes have to be made, to unlock its true potential.

Right now, Miami does still have promise.

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Defensively, for example, the Heat waiver in and out of coming in at top five in the league. Bosh and Wade are still two of the greatest athletes currently playing the game. And realistically, it is not all that difficult to suddenly rise to the top of the Eastern Conference.

But for Miami to have even a semblance of a chance in the postseason, business cannot continue as usual; the halfway mark of 2015-16 is closing in.