The team comes off a 117-112 overtime victory over the Charlotte Hornets Thursday night. In a game that featured the Heat forcing 20 turnovers, nine of them steals, the team just could not put away the Hornets in the regular period, even when their lead was as big as 15.
“Not where we need it to be,” Butler said on the state of the Heat’s defense, per Sports Illustrated. “It’s not all bad, but there are a lot of mistakes, miscommunication, not getting back easily correctable stuff. Hopefully, we start doing that pretty soon and stacking some Ws because we’re in dire need of some wins.”
Their 110.8 defensive rating puts the Heat near the middle of the pack across the League. It’s not a dramatic drop, but the team did have a 108.4 defensive rating last season, fourth-best behind the Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors, and Boston Celtics.
The Heat was defeated at the buzzer against the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday, a game where the Heat also had a chance to run away with a sizable victory.
Butler had 16 points to go along with six steals, but leaving Blazers guard Josh Hart open at the corner three-point line left the FTX Arena stunned as he knocked in the winning trey.
Though they’ve managed to give up close ones, the Heat seems to be finding their defensive approach to avoid living in those late-game circumstances, according to head coach Erik Spoelstra.
“It’s part of our identity that we really need to be disruptive and get teams out their comfort zone in a lot of different ways, which requires a big energy and focus commitment,” Spoelstra said. “To be able to be active, get our hands on balls, deny passes, play multiple schemes, that’s our lifeblood defensively.”
The Heat have a chance to prove they’re back to their pesky defensive habits again against the Hornets tomorrow night.