Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Heat Is on Miami Team Needs to Go on Hot Run to Have Any Hope of Gaining Conference's No. 1 Seed

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Heat Is on Miami Team Needs to Go on Hot Run to Have Any Hope of Gaining Conference's No. 1 Seed

Article excerpt

MIAMI -- When Monday's film session and court work were completed on the Heat practice floor, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade huddled with coach Erik Spoelstra and assistant David Fizdale for a chat.

Everyone took a turn talking, everyone took a turn nodding.

"We'd be lying to ourselves," Wade said afterward, "if we said we were playing our best basketball right now."

Even if they did say that, no one would believe them. Not after seven losses in their past 10 road games, the past three of those defeats all by at least 15 points, capped by rock bottom for this season so far, a 19-point loss Sunday at Boston in which Miami set season-lows for points, field-goal percentage, free-throws made and free-throw percentage.

The Heat have won 15 in a row at home, the NBA's longest such streak this season, and start a five-game homestand today against Philadelphia. Oklahoma City -- which embarrassed the Heat last week - - comes in Wednesday, followed by games with Memphis on Friday, Detroit on Sunday and then the Celtics again next Tuesday.

If there's a time for the Heat to get rolling again, it might be now.

"It's not about talk. It's not about whatever the perceptions are out there," Spoelstra said Monday. "We're not a perfect team, like a lot of teams out there. [Sunday] was unacceptable and today we worked as a group to fix it and to make it better."

Spoelstra used that same word -- unacceptable -- after Sunday's loss.

By then, his mind was made up that even with another hectic week ahead, the Heat couldn't afford to use Monday as an off day. There's simply too much for them to address.

"It's not like we're hitting the panic button," James said. "He's saying it's unacceptable and we've got to own up to it. We've got a veteran ballclub and we know we can't play that way, offensively or defensively."

Miami entered Monday 31/2 games behind Chicago in the race for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls and Heat play twice more before the playoffs begin, and Miami is two games behind Chicago in the loss column. Oklahoma City came into Monday 21/2 games ahead of Miami in the race for the best overall record, with San Antonio just a half-game behind the Heat. …

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