Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat qualified for the playoffs already and it looks like the team has already shut it down in the regular season with about two weeks left to go. The problem for the Heat is that with each loss, doubt continues to creep in about the team in the playoffs.
Thursday night, the Heat played the number one seeded Chicago Bulls close, but when it was crunch time, the Heat couldn’t close the deal in regulation and then were thumped in overtime.
The biggest problem for the Heat has been the overall shooting. During the Bulls game, granted against a very tough defense, the Heat shot 44 percent from the field, hitting 36-82 shots. Luckily for the Heat, the Bulls only shot 43 percent thanks to Derrick Rose shooting 1-13.
“This is one of the worst feelings in the regular season I’ve had this year,” James said after the loss.
Based on the Heat’s most recent games, head coach Erik Spoelstra hasn’t been able to put the right lineup on the court to do significant damage to opponents. Spoelstra has been trying a little bit of everything including inserting Udonis Haslem into the starting lineup at center against the Bulls.
Against the Celtics, Spoelstra at times used a lineup consisting of no player above 6’8” tall which was a vision of Heat President Pat Riley, but it didn’t work particularly well.
Part of what the Heat has started experimenting with is having All-Star forward LeBron James running the point. James is the squads best pure point guard. At 6’8” and roughly 260 pounds, he’s also almost unguardable by other teams.
While LeBron is running the point offensively, he can be moved to any position defensively to shut down the opponents’ best player. LeBron is the Heat’s best player and is likely the leading candidate for NBA MVP this season.
When it comes to the playoffs, Spoelstra may go back to the original big five lineup featuring LeBron, Wade, Mike Miller, Chris Bosh, and Udonis Haslem. That particular group was used extensively against the Chicago Bulls in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals.
Luckily for the Heat, a reprieve is coming in a big way Friday night. The Heat will welcome in arguably one of the worst teams in NBA history, the Charlotte Bobcats.
Charlotte has won just seven games this season and is 5-37 against teams in the Eastern Conference. The Bobcat’s sport a 12 percent winning percentage and are currently on a 14 game losing streak. In other words, it’s the perfect game to get back on track and quickly rest LeBron and Wade.
The record for fewest wins in a regular season is nine by the Philadelphia 76ers in the early 1970’s. Charlotte’s reprieve is the team didn’t play a full 82 game regular season this year. Still, if they finish with fewer than nine victories, they will go down as one of the most historically bad teams ever.
Tip-time for Friday night’s game is 7:30 p.m.