Offensive offense has Heat coming up short during uneven start to season

Offensive offense has Heat coming up short during uneven start to season

MIAMI — That the offense is offensive is nothing new for the Miami Heat.

Last season, on the way to making the NBA Finals, the Heat ranked 25th among the league’s 30 teams in offensive rating. Entering Friday night’s game at the Kaseya Center against the Washington Wizards, Erik Spoelstra’s team ranked 26th.

While the priority long has been on the defensive end, what particularly hampered the Heat during a 1-4 opening week of the season were a lack of attempts at the rim. That had the Heat entering Friday’s game with the NBA’s fourth-worst shooting percentage.

“We want to put more points on the board,” Spoelstra said ahead of Friday night’s game. “We’re capable of doing that, getting on the same page and bringing out the strengths of each other. We’re going to get there and we’ll be better than what we have right now.”

It starts, Spoelstra said, with Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro.

“Hopefully we can fast track it,” Spoelstra said. “All of us are really impatient through this process right now. But the thing I do need is we need Jimmy, Bam and Tyler all playing at a high level, at an efficient level, bringing the best out of each other, and then ultimately raising the level of everybody else on the roster, which they’re all capable of doing. We just haven’t gotten to that point.”

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The Heat went into Friday’s game tied with the Dallas Mavericks for fewest shots per game within five feet, at 23, and second-to-last (to the New York Knicks) in only 14.4 conversion per game within five feet.

“We do know we have to attack,” Spoelstra said. “We have to put pressure on the rim. We have not done that consistently enough. We have been able to do that at times. We haven’t been able to sustain that.

“And then developing this collective IQ of our identity, and the context of the game does matter. So these are not absolute decisions. These are reading-the-game decisions that we have to show improvement on.”

Instead, the Heat went into Friday leading the league at 11.4 shots per game between 10 and 14 feet, and second in the league at 8.2 shots per game between 15 and 19 feet, both the type of mid-range attempts that stand counter to successful offensive in this NBA 3-point era.

“If we’re not doing aggressive things, then oftentimes the only thing we’re left with is the shot we don’t want a heavy diet of,” Spoelstra said.

“Right now we have to get to a higher level, we have to get our offense to a high level. We have to get our overall game to a higher level.”

Tunnel vision

Among the unique aspects of the NBA’s In-Season Tournament are the tiebreakers during pool play, which include total margin of victory and then total points.

That makes it the rare NBA time when more than victory is in play.

Or not.

As his team prepared to open play in the first-annual event Friday night, Spoelstra said he had greater concerns than working the tournament’s tiebreakers.

“We haven’t given that a ton of thought right now,” Spoelstra said. “I want to win some games, that’s our priority. Playing well. I have to prioritize these things right now. When we get to that level, thinking about that, that’s probably a good thing.”

No homecoming

There will be no homecoming game for former Heat guard Gabe Vincent this season, unless his Los Angeles Lakers and the Heat meet in the NBA Finals.

Vincent, who departed in free agency in the offseason, has been ruled out for at least two weeks by the Lakers with a left knee effusion.

The Lakers’ lone visit of the season to Kaseya Center is Monday night. The Heat’s other game against the Lakers this season is Jan. 3 in Los Angeles.