Mateo’s Hoop Diary: Heat Embarrassed at Home by 76ers

The Miami Heat followed up one of its strongest wins of the year in Philadelphia on Monday with a stinker. It’s easily a candidate for the worst loss of the season, but the squad finds a new nominee about every 10 days. On Wednesday evening, It was like “payback for what happened to Billy Batts.”

It was so bad Joel Embiid was cackling as he cavalierly sat on the bench with the 76ers up 20 points on the hosts midway through the third quarter. The Heat kicked off the night blazing from deep (by this team’s standards), converting three out of seven trays in the opening period.

In transition, Jimmy Butler caught a hit-ahead pass from Kevin Love in the paint and passed it to Tyler Herro on the right wing for a triple. Herro then set up the ensuing basket by breaking down Paul Reed on the left side and having Shake Milton overhelp in the middle. Next, he skipped the pass to Max Strus to his right for a trifecta. Victor Oladipo canned the last one of the first quarter, attacking Reed in drop coverage and getting open with Cody Zeller’s screen up top.

The Heat had 38 points in the first frame but gave up 34. Without its MVP candidate, Philadelphia was shooting 63.6% from the field in that span. The scoring of the initial quarter tied its second-best of the season for Miami. What followed was like a Greek tragedy; the fall was rude, humbling and a gross spectacle. It came after Miami’s peak. In the second quarter, the Heatles made 26.3% of its attempts.

Herro just hit a reverse layup between two defenders, and Strus splashed a fast break triple in the left corner to give Miami a four-point advantage. Subsequently, in four minutes, the Heat missed its next seven shots as the 76ers jumped ahead by 13 points with over five minutes left in the half.

At the intermission, the visitors claimed an 18-point lead. That’s with Bam Adebayo and Butler combining for 24 points on nine out of 13 shots. The rest of the squad logged 32% of its tries.

The third quarter was a waste of time. Although the hosts recorded half of its attempts, it nearly gave up as much to Philly and was outscored by one. Tyrese Maxey, as he did two nights prior, extinguished the Heat in this period with 10 points on four out of six shots. James Harden also had five points with two dimes- an under-the-basket inbound to PJ Tucker and a lob to Tobias Harris on a three-on-one break against Gabe Vincent.

Hope faded within 90 seconds of play into the fourth quarter for Miami as it missed its first four field goals. The Heat ended the night with a loss and a 23-point difference on the scorecard.  The defeat concluded the sixth miniseries the Heat has played this season. Its record in those games is 9-3. Miami went 2-0 against Charlotte, Washington and Milwaukee and split both matches versus Toronto, Boston and Philadelphia.

After the smackdown, coach Erik Spoelstra said the team needs a mindset shift in order “to be able to sustain a game [it] can win.

“We’ve shown that we can be the best against anybody, anywhere,” said Spo. “And then we’ve also shown this…”

A meltdown of this proportion, this late in the season, should be enough for everyone to completely panic sell all stocks owned on the club. With five consecutive home games remaining before the next trip on tour, the Heat must rack up some dubs because it is only a game and a half out of the sixth seed. Brooklyn, currently holding that spot, has lost four in a row.

Although, the Heat has won a game out of four since its eight-day break. The surging New York Knicks come into Miami on Friday with seven straight victories since Feb.11.

There is not much time left for the Heat to salvage its season.

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