Injuries, inefficient offense continue to hurt Heat: ‘There are a lot of moving parts’

Injuries and inefficient offense continue to be the Miami Heat’s biggest issues this season.

The Heat entered Thursday with the fifth most missed games in the NBA this season because of injuries at 269 games, according to Spotrac’s injury tracker. The only teams with more missed games because of injuries this season are the Memphis Grizzlies (526 missed games), Portland Trail Blazers (324 games), Charlotte Hornets (300 games) and Atlanta Hawks (295 games). The Heat is the only team in that bottom five with a winning record this season.

The Heat also entered Thursday with the NBA’s 21st-ranked offensive rating this season. The Heat is one of only two teams with a bottom-10 offensive rating that also holds a winning record this season, along with the Orlando Magic.

Both were again issues in Wednesday night’s 111-92 loss to the Dallas Mavericks at Kaseya Center, as the Heat remains on the unfortunate track to be in the NBA’s play-in tournament for the second straight season.

Can Heat still avoid play-in? Can Heat host No. 7 vs. No. 8 play-in game? Breaking it all down

While missing three rotation players in Wednesday’s loss — Josh Richardson (season-ending right shoulder surgery), Duncan Robinson (left facet syndrome), Terry Rozier (neck spasms) — the Heat scored fewer than 100 points in a game for the 18th time this season. The Heat is 2-16 in those games.

Only the struggling Hornets (28 such games), Trail Blazers (22 such games) and Grizzlies (22 such games) have been held to less than 100 points in more games than the Heat this season.

Heat guard Tyler Herro, who has missed 40 games this season, believes the Heat’s injury problem is a driving force behind the team’s offensive issues.

“Ultimately, we have to figure out a way that we can try to play somewhat the same identity on the offensive end game to game,” Herro said, with the Heat closing the regular season with back-to-back games against the Toronto Raptors on Friday (8 p.m., Bally Sports Sun) and Sunday (1 p.m., Bally Sports Sun) at Kaseya Center. “I feel like right now, it’s kind of just changing game to game and it doesn’t help that we don’t have all of our guys. I’m obviously a big part of that. I was out for two months almost. It’s not easy for us and it definitely isn’t easy on our coaching staff because half the time they don’t even know who’s playing.”

With more opposing defenses packing the paint against the Heat and sending extra defenders at Miami’s leading duo of Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler, it has left Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and players searching for answers.

Adebayo and Butler combined for just 20 points in Wednesday’s loss to the Mavericks. They also combined to shoot 4 of 11 (36.4 percent) from inside the paint in the defeat.

“It takes everybody connected, working together to be able to do that,” Spoelstra said of solving paint-packing defenses. “They’re not as easy of reads as they were at the beginning of the year and you can’t expect them to be. But there has to be intention. Every single possession, there has to be intention, there has to be a motor, there has to be things done with pace and detail and then moving the ball.

“It’s gotten a little sticky of late, where I think the competitive nature of our group, guys really want to will it and we’re holding it a little bit longer than what is appropriate for our team and we’re missing some moments. But we’re going to fix that. We’ll get this right.”

Butler’s finishing around the rim has been especially concerning recently. In the past five games, he has shot just 12 of 27 (44.4 percent) from within the restricted area and had five of those 27 shots (18.5 percent) blocked.

During last season’s playoff run to the NBA Finals, Butler shot 83 of 139 (59.7 percent) from within the restricted area and had 13 of those 139 shots (9.4 percent) blocked in 22 games.

“We all understand how important it is to get Jimmy going,” Spoelstra said. “Our team understands, Jimmy understands it, the head coach understands it.”

But as players continue to move in and out of the rotation because of injuries, the Heat’s challenge is to find a consistent offensive formula that works despite constant changes in available personnel.

“There are a lot of moving parts, so there’s no way we can get to an identity if we don’t have our team,” Herro said.


The Heat will remain without Richardson (shoulder) and Robinson (back) for Friday’s game against the Raptors. Rozier (neck) is listed as questionable. The rest of the Heat’s roster is expected to be available.

The Raptors will be without Scottie Barnes, Chris Boucher, D.J. Carton, Jakob Poeltl and Jontay Porter for Friday’s game in Miami because of injuries. Bruce Brown and Gary Trent Jr. are listed as questionable.