4 Killer mistakes the Miami Heat cannot repeat next season

Here's what the Miami Heat can learn from a disappointing season that ended after just five playoff games.
Miami Heat v Boston Celtics - Game Five
Miami Heat v Boston Celtics - Game Five / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages
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2. Lack of team availability

Despite initial concerns, many fans remained hopeful for a strong playoff performance led by "Playoff Jimmy" and a repeat of last year's surprising success as underdogs. However, these hopes were ultimately dashed.

The Heat faced significant challenges this season, ranking fifth in the league for the most missed games due to injuries at 250, according to Spotrac's injury tracker. This issue has resulted in a lack of consistency and uncertainty in the team's rotation as they head toward the playoffs. Miami established a new franchise record with Spoelstra utilizing 35 different starting lineups throughout the season.  

During the regular season, no Heat lineup accumulated over 200 minutes on the court together. In contrast, the Celtics, who recently eliminated the Heat in the first round of the playoffs, had two lineups that surpassed 300 minutes of playing time together.

Furthermore, the Heat's prominent trio consisting of Adebayo, Butler, and Herro only appeared in 27 games together this regular season, resulting in a 14-13 record. Unfortunately, this trio did not have the opportunity to play any playoff games together this year, as Butler was sidelined for the entire first-round series against the Celtics due to a sprained MCL in his right knee.

In his annual season-ending news conference, Riley addressed the media about the importance of change. However, Riley's focus was not on the potential alterations to the team's roster following their early exit from the playoffs this season. Instead, it was mostly about player availability. Riley made it clear he won't accept the same outcome next year. 

“Those things you’re doing to try to win, if they aren’t working, must change,” Riley said. "That’s a deep dive for us this summer into player availability. So we have to change some things."

The Heat's roster presents a significant challenge. While Butler is a standout player renowned for his clutch playoff performances, his age, and declining durability have become worrisome as he enters his 15th season at the age of 35 next year. His average number of games played per season in Miami fell below 60, and his minutes per game decreased.

Herro and Caleb Martin, who were available, failed to deliver standout performances except for a remarkable Game 2 effort. The absence of Robinson and Jaime Jaquez Jr. due to additional injuries further hindered the Heat's chances of making a deep playoff run this season.

Point guard Terry Rozier, who joined the team in a trade in January, had been playing the best basketball of his career heading into the postseason before being diagnosed with neck spasms on April 7. Despite initially being considered day-to-day, he ended up missing the entire postseason. Josh Richardson was just starting to find his form when he had to undergo shoulder surgery, ruling him out for the rest of the year.

Sharpshooter and "Most Improved Player" candidate, Duncan Robinson, also was playing some of the best basketball of his career and has transformed into a versatile player this season. Robinson suffered a back injury late in the season, which affected his performance compared to his standout performance in Game 7 against the Celtics last season. To add to the team's woes, Jaime Jaquez Jr., who showed promise in his rookie year playoffs, missed Game 5 against the Celtics due to a hip injury.

This team had a season filled with setbacks. Injuries sidelining key players resulted in significant missed games that impacted the Heat's performance. Riley was right to focus on them.