Blame for the Miami Heat's loss to the Mavericks starts at the top

Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo combined for just 20 points compared to 54 for Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.
Dallas Mavericks v Miami Heat
Dallas Mavericks v Miami Heat / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

In a vital matchup against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night, the Miami Heat posted one of their worst performances of the season, falling 111-92 at home. It was all Dallas, all night long. The Heat's star duo was outplayed by Dallas' superstar tandem of Luka Donic and Kyrie Irving.

It’s easy to write about just one issue on the Heat’s behalf, but those stacked up like filling papers in the office. On the offensive end they were lost. Miami didn’t have a go-to option they can trust for four quarters. Tyler Herro made a solo run early in the fourth, but there was no consistency with Miami’s game plan on that end. 

“It’s obviously a must-win for us and we just didn’t approach the game right," Herro said. "Pretty much a playoff game at this point. We all as a collective group just feel like we could have brought more."

Bam Adebayo didn’t find a single minute of an All-Star caliber performance. Adebayo and Jimmy Butler should have taken pride in stopping two of the best offensive weapons in the league, while attempting to notch a much needed win. They were absent from Wednesday's proceedings. Adebayo recorded eight points on 3 for 13 from the field and three rebounds in nearly 30 minutes of game play. Butler had 12 points on eight shots. He led both teams in turnovers with five.

Together, Butler and Adebayo combined for just 20 points compared to 54 for Doncic and Irving.

Head coach Erik Spoelstra is known for schemes and adjustments, especially against an opposing team's No. 1 option. He had to face two guys of that standard against the Mavericks, which seemed like too tall of a task. Spoelstra attempted a couple of unique matchups aimed at throwing length at Dallas, but the playmaking ability of both guards made that unsuccessful. Irving saw matchups against Nikola Jovic, Haywood Highsmith, and Caleb Martin, while Donic faced bigger bodies like Martin and Adebayo. 

The Mavericks played what’s known as the circle trap. They left the middle of the paint open and doubled any penetration from the three-point line, whether it was from the wing or baseline. This led to 16 Heat turnovers (to Dallas’ seven) and eight blocked shots.

Besides Herro's late run, the only other bright spot in Miami was Kevin Love. Spoelstra sprung Love into the lineup and he was productive with 16 points and 11 rebounds, but a leading line like that will almost never be enough to stop a title contender like Dallas.

“We’ll get this right. All I’m thinking about is, I’m focused on getting my team playing the right way and then feeling connected, and feeling good about how we’re playing,” Spoelstra said.

Miami will round out the regular season with two home games against the Toronto Raptors this weekend, with matchups on Friday and Sunday. They currently sit at No. 8 in the Eastern Conference standings. A play-in scenario is the likely outcome for Miami. They’ve been in this situation before and were successful with their bid, but another Cinderella story is going to be hard to produce if they don't get more from Butler and Adebayo.