It being early January, it’s no time for the Miami Heat to push the panic button.
But they may have come to a point where they are going to have to do something rather than rely on their seeming ability to turn on their offensive power at will to crush opponents.
It’s not just the fact that the Heat have lost four of their last seven games that is cause for concern, a point guard Dwyane Wade made after Tuesday night’s 87-77 loss to the Pacers in Indianapolis.
“We’re going to lose some games,” Wade said. “We’ve got to understand.
“But it’s the way you lose games. We don’t want to continue to lose games by getting pounded on the glass, by getting outhustled.
“We’ve got to figure that out.”
Wade could have said much the same thing a few nights earlier after the 96-89 loss to the Chicago Bulls in Miami.
In both games, the Heat were beaten badly on the boards.
The Pacers outrebounded the Heat 55-36 with 22 coming on their offensive end. That allowed the Pacers to get the 10-point victory despite shooting only 36.3 percent from the field.
The Bulls dominated the boards 48-28 in a 96-89 victory.
In those two games combined, their opponents outscored the Heat 43-13 in second-chance points, getting off 38 more field goal attempts in the process.
In between, the Heat dominated the Washington Wizards 99-71, but a rout of the team with the worst record in the NBA doesn’t carry much weight overall, must less when put up against the losses to two Eastern Conference teams the Heat could be facing in the playoffs.
After the loss to the Bulls, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra pointedly noted that the root of the Heat’s problem isn’t in personnel, that the guys handling the board work this season are the same ones who did it last season.
The Heat outrebounded opponents by nearly two a game (41.6 to 39.8) in 2011-12, but the numbers are reversed this time around. Through 33 games, they are averaging 38.97 rebounds a game, their opponents 41.79.
“It’s got to stop,” Spoelstra said of the rebounding deficiencies. “At some point we’ll get pushed to the brink where enough will be enough.”
That point would seem to be already reached.
“We’re working, we’re working,” Shane Battier said. “It takes work. It takes work.
“Until we’re all ready to jump in the fray, we’re going to struggle.”
Battier thinks the Heat’s “competitive spirit” will turn things around.
“The good news is there are only two results here,” he said. “We either figure it out or we don’t. There’s no gray area here. We need to work to the end where we just figure it out.”
Wade is confident that will happen.
“This is our third year together,” he said, referring to the arrival of James and Chris Bosh for the 2010-11 campaign to form the team’s Big Three. “We always catch ourselves. I trust and believe that we will find a way.
“We always do.”
Heat signs forward: In taking a step toward bolstering their rebounding, the Heat today signed forward Jarvis Vanardo to a 10-day contract. A second-round choice by the Heat in the 2010 draft, the Mississippi State product who was known for his rebounding and shot-blocking was waived by the Heat in October after playing in the Heat’s 2012 Summer League team.
He was signed by Boston in December and played in five games with the Celtics, totaling six points, three rebounds, one assist and a steal in 18 minutes of action while shooting 2-of-4 from the field before being waived on Jan. 6.
He also played for the Heat’s Sioux Falls Skyforce team in the NBA Developmental League earlier this season, averaging 14.0 points, 8.9 rebounds, 4.38 blocks and 30.4 minutes in 14 games.
Tale of two halves: Wade had 23 points in the first half of the loss to the Pacers, but finished the game with only 30. He didn’t even take a shot in nearly nine minutes in the third quarter.
Spoelstra said it was just the flow of the game, that the Pacers “did a good job breaking up the first or second option of our sets” that made the difference.
Wade shrugged it off, but didn’t appear all that happy.
“I play team basketball and do what I can,” he said. “When the opportunities come, I take them.”
Another 20 for James: LeBron James had only eight points in the first half against the Pacers but added 14 in the final two quarters for a total of 22, extending his streak of 20-point games to open the season to 33 games.
Coming up: The Heat head west for games 2-5 of their six-game road swing with a game at Portland coming up on Thursday night. The Heat have beaten the Trailblazers three in a row in Portland. The last three games are against the Kings, Warriors, and Lakers, the last two on consecutive nights Jan. 16-17.