The Miami Heat started to worry fans with poor play to open the season but gave them reason to remain hopeful after a strong victory against the Washington Wizards on Friday night.
The Heat had a rough start to the 2023-24 NBA season. Through their first five games, Miami had a 1-4 record and hardly looked like the team that won the Eastern Conference title last postseason. It was the franchise’s worst opening record since the 2007-08 season (0-5). Compared to other teams this season, it was the second-worst record in the league, better than only the winless Grizzlies.
One major concern through the first five games was that the offense was struggling. Shooters were hitting shots, but Miami wasn’t capitalizing on inside shots. The offense looked erratic and disordered at times; the team often had trouble taking care of the ball.
Another concern was that Jimmy Butler didn’t look quite right. Miami’s leader, who averaged 23 points per game last season, opened the 2023-24 season averaging only 16.5 points per game. His efficiency was poor, and it almost looked like Butler was showing signs of a decline. This is something that the Heat could not afford.
Luckily for Miami, things changed against Washington on Friday night. This was the first game of the in-season tournament for the Heat. It seems like it could not have come at a better time, as it appeared to have restored Miami’s competitive drive.
Tyler Herro led the way for the Heat with 24 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists. Butler got to the free-throw line early and finished the game with 20 points on 5 for 6 shooting from the line. The whole team made shots and shared the ball well.
The Heat still have things they need to work on. For example, the Heat allowed a fourth quarter run from Washington by committing six turnovers. These late game decisions need to be corrected in order for Miami to win against tougher opponents.
The Washington Wizards are one of the weakest opponents the Miami Heat could face in the East, so it should not be a surprise that they came out on top. Still, it is encouraging to see Miami play like they are accustomed to.