The 2017-18 Miami Heat are just trying to stay alive

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 16: Tyler Johnson
MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 16: Tyler Johnson /

An up and down season for the Miami Heat has the team seeking ways to stay alive down the stretch.

It’s been a rough start for the Miami Heat this season.

High expectations after a solid 30-11 finish to last year, while bringing back the majority of the same roster, led everyone to believe that this would be a dangerous team. There were even talks that Miami could go 6-0 in October to start things off. Instead, the Heat took a 2-4 record into November.

It’s been a struggle, without a doubt. But, with a win over the Los Angeles Clippers, the Heat have now brought themselves back over .500 (15-14). In fact, the Heat have been on a bit of a roll recently. Holding four of the last five opponents to under 100 points (three of them in the 80’s), head coach Erik Spoelstra’s defense seems to be clicking.

With Miami’s next game being versus the struggling Atlanta Hawks, it’s likely the Heat could go two games over .500 before facing the Boston Celtics. A much harder feat than necessary, with many expecting the team to already be playing much better and more consistently.

But right now, Miami has been forced to mix and match different lineups together due to injuries. The irony being that if you put together Miami’s injured players… James Johnson, Rodney McGruder, Okaro White, Hassan Whiteside and Justise Winslow, you actually don’t have too bad of a team.

McGruder’s been out since the start of the season and most recently Johnson injured his ankle and is expected to miss 7-10 days. Whiteside is battling a second bruised knee of the season, his return questionable until January. And where the Heat have been finding success, they now might be in a tight spot: Winslow, a solid defender, is out with a sprained knee.

Whenever Miami gets things going, something goes wrong and they have to adjust quickly. But give credit to Spoelstra and the players because they have stepped up and adjusted.

You look at the multiple lineups Miami has had to use, and you have to respect where they stand. The Heat have used 20 different five-man combinations. The most successful combination including Johnson and Whiteside.

You also have seen changes from the beginning of the season, when the Heat was looking at playing two bigs at the same time. Fans often wondered where rookie Bam Adebayo would find minutes, but now he’s become a huge part of Miami’s game plan alongside Kelly Olynyk. Take the Clippers game, when Johnson left the game early due to his injury. Despite both centers getting into foul trouble early, they still got the job done.

Miami has had many different leading scorers this season. And while you would like to see more consistency, it’s reassuring knowing that every night someone will step up.

Next: Miami Heat: Does the team have enough assets to improve?

Right now, the Miami Heat are just trying to survive. However, a struggling season will come into check as this Heat team becomes healthy once again.