A year ago this time, the Miami Heat couldn’t lose, as they were in the middle of their franchise-record 27-game winning streak. This March, the Heat can’t seem to win, with back-to-back losses at home for the first time this season and their worst stretch of play since losing five in a row overall from Feb. 27-March 8, 2011.
“We’ve been here before,” LeBron James told ESPN.com. “And this moment will either define our season or end our season. Obviously, it won’t end right now, but if it carries on into the playoffs it will. We always have one defining moment. This is it right here for us.”
The most recent loss was the most stunning, a 111-107 defeat at the hands of the Denver Nuggets, who came in with just four wins in their previous 17 games and who were winless on the road in five games against teams with winning records since Jan. 15.
The Heat are just 1-5 since James went for 61 points against Charlotte on March 3. They are shooting just 33.3 percent from 3-point range during that stretch—the Heat shoot it at 37 percent from deep for the season—and the problems are at the offensive end.
Miami leads the NBA with an offensive rating of 109.7 points per 100 possessions this season, but in the last six games, that number has shrunk to 101.8. Rebounding has also been a more glaring problem than usual—the Heat are next-to-last in the league with a 47.2 percent rebounding rate, but they have been getting only 44.4 percent of the available rebounds over their last six games.
And sometimes the problems are just simple and don’t need a lot of creativity to repair.
“We’re just not playing well,” James said. “And this is a league where it can turn to quicksand quick. We have to figure it out, continue to get better. And it doesn’t get any easier for us, having Houston come into our building Sunday. We have to right the ship.”
After a 1-3 week, Miami is 44-19, 3½ games in back of Indiana in the East and in second place in the conference. The Heat still lead the third-place Raptors by 7½ games and have an 10½-game cushion over Washington in the Southeast Division.
Here is the week that was, including game reviews, some news and notes, injury updates and rookie watch, and player of the week selection, as well as a look ahead to next week’s action (all statistical information from NBA.com/Stats):