MIAMI — Through both the best and toughest times, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra stresses the need to maintain perspective.
But at moments such as this, with the Heat 1-4 entering Friday night’s game against the Washington Wizards at Kaseya Center, perspective on the 82-game grind can be lost.
So three months from the NBA trading deadline, center Bam Adebayo already found himself speaking of worst-case, roster-altering scenarios.
“We don’t want to dig this hole too deep,” Adebayo said after the Heat blew a 15-point second-half lead in Wednesday night’s loss to a shorthanded Brooklyn Nets roster that featured a variety of G League players. “So that’s the concern, because the season starts going like this, then obviously you get to the deadline, and you don’t know what’s going to happen.
“So, that’s the concern, because we got a great group of guys. We just got to figure it out.”
The NBA trading deadline is Feb. 8.
Not only did the Heat exit the loss to the Nets on a four-game losing streak and with an Eastern Conference-high four losses, but their lone victory came on opening night, when a fourth-quarter meltdown saw them blow almost all of a 19-point lead to the Detroit Pistons in a one-point decision.
“We got to put a full game together,” said guard Tyler Herro, who had 35- and 30-point performances the past two games. “I think all four losses, at points throughout the games, you’ve seen flashes of what we are and what we can be. But sustain or consistency is the same thing. We have to do that.
“We’ll win some games, but we’re going to lose most of the games if we can’t come up with solutions and put a full 48 minutes together.”
The last time the Heat had as many losses through four games was when they opened the 2007-08 season 0-5. The Heat closed that season 15-67, emerging with No. 2 pick Michael Beasley in the lottery.
Yes, the Heat own their draft pick in June. No, that’s not what they are thinking about at the moment.
“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves at this point of the year,” Herro said. “It’s still early, obviously. But at some point, this has to matter to us. We can’t keep losing games and think it’s OK.”
Last season, a rough start to the season left the seventh-place Heat precariously placed in the play-in round, surviving that added burden as a No. 8 playoff seed only with a fourth-quarter comeback against the Chicago Bulls in a win-or-go-home game.
“We’re 1-4 right now,” Adebayo said. “We don’t want to dig this hole too deep so we’re fighting at the end of the season, thinking about, ‘If we would have won this game or that game, it would be a different factor now.’ The biggest thing for us is to handle it now and figure it out later.”
Typically, Spoelstra speaks more about the process than the results, particularly early in the season. But this seems to have a different feel after an offseason when the Heat lost out on upgrades such as Damian Lillard and Jrue Holiday, while also losing playoff contributors Max Strus and Gabe Vincent.
“It’s a right-now situation, you know what I’m saying?” forward Jimmy Butler said. “Like, you don’t want to ever lose games at home or away. So we got to figure it out now.
“At the end of the day, yeah, we need to correct it. And we will. But it’s all about right now, winning now.”
Or, as Herro said, this cannot become habitual.
“The more losses you have now, that becomes the habit,” he said, “and this will be a losing team if we don’t turn it around.”
Spoelstra said after Thursday’s practice that he had no issue with his players’ raw emotion amid such struggles.
“All of those emotions are fine,” Spoelstra said. “Like whatever guys feel competitively after a game, you should feel a certain way about it. And that’s what I love about this locker room. Nobody’s happy about that. You sit in those emotions for a night, and then you just start getting to work. And that’s all this is.
“This league, in an 82-game season, gives you so many opportunities to grow as individuals and as a team to be able to face adversity, to be able to collectively find solutions.”
The Heat’s injury report for Friday night lists Adebayo (hip), Kevin Love (shoulder) and Haywood Highsmith (knee) as available, Butler (knee) as probable and forward Caleb Martin (knee) out. Love sat out Wednesday night’s loss. Martin has yet to play during the regular season . . . Former Heat captain Udonis Haslem again practiced with the team Thursday.