Miami Heat: The Heat must address this major issue moving forward

Head coach Erik Spoelstra and assistant coach Juwan Howard of the Miami Heat direct the team against the Philadelphia 76ers(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Head coach Erik Spoelstra and assistant coach Juwan Howard of the Miami Heat direct the team against the Philadelphia 76ers(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

With 10 games left in the regular season, the Miami Heat sit just a half game ahead of the Orlando Magic for the final Eastern Conference playoff slot. If they hope to not only maintain that position, but also make a little noise in the postseason, they must address this major issue.

The Miami Heat have been on somewhat of a hot streak of lately. Going 7-3 in their last 10 games, with two of those losses coming at the hands of the Eastern Conference-leading Milwaukee Bucks, they have started to play some of their best basketball at the right time.

Even with all the recent success however, there is still one big issue that haunts this team on a night in and night out basis. This issue is the inability to maintain big leads, after they have done the work to attain them.

As mentioned earlier, the Heat have faced the Bucks twice within their last ten games. Although Friday’s lost wasn’t as competitive as the Heat would have liked, the game against this same team just seven days prior, was going exactly how they wanted it to. At least until the halfway point.

Headed into halftime of the game against Milwaukee on Friday the 15th, the Heat were up 62-42. Although it looked like a win at that point, that is not the way things wound up. The Heat were outscored 71-36 in the second half of that game, and as if that wasn’t enough, gave up a 20 point lead in the process.

This has been an issue that has plagued this team all season. In recent games against some of the best teams in the Western Conference, this same issue reared its ugly head for this Miami team against the Golden State Warriors. Although they would take the game on a crazy Dwyane Wade game winner, the Heat had been up 74-59 at the half of that game, and 100-92 at the close of the third.

On the very next day in a game against the Houston Rockets, talk about a murderous back to back set, the Heat had a 69-55 lead at the half and a 98-86 lead to close the third quarter. They would only score 20 points in the 4th, compared to the Rockets 35, and eventually go on to lose that game 118-121.

They were up 30 to 18 after the first period in their most recent game against the Detroit Pistons on the 13 of March, before allowing a 31 point quarter, which pulled the Pistons back within five to close the half. Yes, the Heat would open the third period with a 21-0 to run to eventually win the game, but that doesn’t account for the “slack” they give when up big.

They were even up 62-47 on the San Antonio Spurs in a game on Wednesday the 20th, before allowing them to pull close by being outscored 58-48 in the second half. Again, this was a win for the Heat but as the Rockets and the Bucks illustrated, that won’t always be the case.

These were just a few of the recent games in which this has occurred, but it has honestly been a thorn in the side of this Miami Heat team for most of the season. Plainly and simply, if this team wants to continue on their upward trajectory, they must finish games and hold on to big leads when they earn them.

The Heat have to maintain the half game lead over the Orlando Magic in order to make the playoffs, and giving up leads that should lead to wins won’t help that case. Even if they sneak into the playoffs, as it seems they will at the moment, they won’t last long if they can’t find some semblance of consistency when it comes to keeping the same intensity throughout.

It is late in the season and some will be of the mindset that they are what they are, but that just isn’t true. When you have a winning pedigree, a great organization, a great coach, and Hall Of Famers all around, things can change in an instant.

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They need to here, as the Miami Heat need to try everything to address this major issue. If they don’t, it will be another early playoff exit or worst, a last game late season situation where they just miss the dance. One Last Dance in Wade’s case (although we sure as heck hope not), and that would be tragic, especially with as well as they all have been playing lately.