The Miami Heat have taken care of business against the weaker teams in the league, but they have fallen short when competing against teams with the top records.
Sunday’s loss to the LA Clippers dropped the Heat to 8-16 against teams currently with a winning record (they are 18-8 against teams currently below .500). The Heat are also 2-12 against teams with a top-10 point differential, according to Cleaning the Glass.
The Heat won just two games against teams with winning records in January (the Kings and Lakers), and their best wins of the season came against the Cavaliers without Donovan Mitchell (Dec. 8) and the 76ers without Joel Embiid (Dec. 25).
The Miami Heat have a losing record against the kind of teams they'll face in the playoffs -- if they make it that far.
The Heat are 0-4 against the top two teams in the East – the Celtics and Bucks – with rematches upcoming on the schedule. Miami hosts the Celtics on Feb. 11 and visits Milwaukee on Feb. 13.
Unfortunately for the Heat, this upcoming stretch features more good teams than bad. According to NBA.com, the Heat have the league’s 11th-toughest schedule in the month of February.
Seven of Miami’s next nine games come against teams with winning records: The Magic, Celtics, Bucks, 76ers, Pelicans, Kings and Nuggets. The only two games during this stretch against teams with losing records are against the Spurs and Trail Blazers.
After ranking as high as fourth-place in the East, the Heat have lost eight of their last 10 games.
Sunday’s loss dropped the Heat from seventh to eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
“I don’t think it was a step backwards,” Josh Richardson said after the loss. “I think we came out and competed super hard. That’s all you can really ask for. I think we got good looks at it, missed a lot of easy ones and the Clippers are a good team. They’re very talented, they’re the hottest team in the league right now.”
The Heat are 1.5 games back of the No. 6 seed Pacers and are in danger of having to qualify for the playoffs through the play-in tournament for the second straight season.