Should the Heat be content with the West Coast trip?
The Miami Heat finished their west coast trip with four wins in seven games and will be coming back to south Florida in a similar situation to the one they were when they left.
Still three games under .500, and still very close to the top four spots in the Eastern Conference.
After Monday night’s win against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Heat is only two games from the fourth-place Pacers (tied with the Raptors), and four games behind the Milwaukee Bucks, in third.
Looking back to it, I think we all though a 4-3 overall result would be great, given the circumstances the team was facing at the moment.
The Heat had lost to the Hornets and the Wizards, and barely beat Ethan Skolnick and Ricky J. Mark beloved Knicks in a couple of close games before leaving to face Houston.
As you can see, since James Harden left, that team has just sunk, and that was the perfect opponent for the Heat to start this adventure.
After that Houston team, it was time for the Heat to face the best team of the moment, the Utah Jazz, and it was clear that once they got going, this version of the Heat had no shot at them, so we probably went to bed that night knowing that it was just not meant to be against that opponent (If they were to meet in the playoffs in some sort of crazy scenario, I would take the Heat anyway).
What happened after was just the perfect example of what this season has been for this Heat team. Miami lost to a really depleted Los Angeles Clippers (not the barely depleted Lakers that ESPN likes to portray), and then blew a very solid lead against the Golden State Warriors, who didn’t have Draymond Green available, in one of the worst nights I’ve seen from a superstar like Steph Curry.
Just like that, the Heat was in another losing streak, but this time, with almost everybody back. At this point, and with hundreds of people asking for trades desperately on Heat Twitter, as they do all the time, anyway, regardless of what happens.
Being 1-3 in the trip, after those bad losses against the Clippers and Warriors, and knowing LeBron was waiting for them on Saturday, it seemed impossible that this trip would end up on a positive note.
With the Lakers on the horizon, the Heat defeated the Kings in another “must-win” even game against a lower quality opponent (the Heat struggled even more at home against them), and headed to Los Angeles again for a rematch of the 2020 NBA Finals.
Jimmy Butler has a positive record against LeBron James. We all know what happens when the real games come around, but somehow, and thanks in part to a great defensive game by Bam Adebayo, the Heat held up to upset the Lakers, who are now in the middle of a minicrisis, in case you haven’t watched ESPN lately, after losing to the Brooklyn Nets, the Miami Heat and the Washington Wizards in a row.
It also happens to the best teams in the league…
Closing out the trip with a solid (ish) win
Facing Oklahoma City with the opportunity to finish the west coast trip meant the Heat had to ended up on a positive vibe.
We know the Heat plays down to opponents, even though Oklahoma had a better record than the Heat. The team struggled in the first half, missed shots that should not miss, and were hanging around up to the fourth quarter, when they finally got away.
First solid win in a couple of weeks (or months!?), and a 4-3 record, that we would have taken before it all started, but that seeing what went on, looks like it was not enough.
This trip could have ended up with five or six wins for the Heat, and the team would be a little closer to the actual spot they should be in.
I would say they might be satisfied with a winning record on the road (just talking about this particular trip. The Heat is actually 7-10 on the road this season), but I feel like they should not be content.
This trip meant a lot to the team in a matter of getting closer to each other, as Erik Spoelstra pointed out in one of his press conferences, but it could have been better.
Like everything in this season so far for the Heat (maybe exaggerating a little bit). It could all be better…
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