The Miami Heat struggle from downtown against the San Antonio Spurs

MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 25: Manu Ginobili
MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 25: Manu Ginobili /

The Miami Heat fell 117-110 to the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night, in large part due to their 3-point shooting.

The Miami Heat fell short against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night, receiving their first home loss of the season. It was their third game in a row without Hassan Whiteside, and though it was their first loss, it’s easy to see his presence is desperately needed.

Tyler Johnson was Miami’s leading scorer, finishing with 23 points. He also led the team in behind-the-arc shooting, going 3-of-6, in an attempt to revive the team’s 3-point shooting. The Heat made only 9-of-26 shots from downtown versus the Spurs, a horrible stretch down the line.

Tyler Johnson also made the team’s play of the night, with a monster slam.

Goran Dragic also played a good game though, adding 20 points and 4 rebounds. He also made an attempt at a late fourth quarter comeback.

As for James Johnson, he displayed another strong performance offensively, ending with 21 points. However, his defense was a completely different story, despite grabbing nine rebounds.

Along with basically everyone else, James Johnson was helpless against the Spurs’ bigs. They simply could not stop a newly invigorated LaMarcus Aldridge (31 points and 7 rebounds) or NBA veteran Pau Gasol (13 points and 9 rebounds). They couldn’t find the answer for them in the paint, and struggled to keep up with their jump shots as well.

Even Rudy Gay had his way with Miami, scoring 22 points, shooting a whopping 75 percent from the field.

Without Whiteside in the mix, they were running a smaller lineup, with the occasional Bam Adebayo sighting (who should’ve received more minutes, to try to slow down Aldridge.) They were outscored in the last three quarters and couldn’t stop San Antonio’s collective depth and shooting. The Spurs played their pick and rolls to perfection and connected with almost every open 3 they had.

For the second game in a row, they also slipped in the third quarter, being outscored by 10. They fell behind after the half, and even a hard fought run in the fourth wasn’t enough to come out victorious over an extremely difficult championship contender team.

While Miami’s offense continues to excel, scoring 100 points in their fourth consecutive game, their defensive woes are what is causing them to lose leads late in the game. And tonight wasn’t any different. Miami has been allowing an average of 105 points per game and tonight the Spurs surpassed that by 12 points. They out-rebounded the Heat 45-32, with the majority of that coming from defensive rebounds. That is easily the most important area of improvement that head coach Erik Spoelstra needs to drastically address.

But there were still pros.

At 2-2, it is still way too early to overreact, and Miami can find the right adjustment to their lineup. Their 3-point shooting does need improvement and the short term resolution to that right now is to trust Wayne Ellington with Rodney McGruder out. Ellington only played six minutes tonight, after going 6-8 in one quarter alone, the previous game. They need him out there.

Once Whiteside comes back though, things should get easier. Defense is their biggest problem but with Whiteside starting and Adebayo as his backup, they can definitely develop a great rotation and be proficient with time. They just need to be patient.

Next: Why the Miami Heat are in a perfect position in the Eastern Conference

Miami continues their home stand October 28, when they host Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics.