The Miami Heat already had a uphill climb ahead of them entering their Tuesday night contest against the Toronto Raptors. After all, the Raptors are no longer the struggling outfit they were earlier in the season, as the addition of Jakob Poeltl has helped them immensely. To make matters worse, Jimmy Butler went from probable, to questionable, to out in the span of a few hours, leaving the Heat with a much more difficult task of leaving Canada with a victory.
Butler’s absence meant that the Heat had little to no margin for error, execution-wise, especially if they were to overcome a well-coached Raptors team. In the end, however, the Heat fell short of their lofty execution standards — a harsh reality that head coach Erik Spoelstra can attest to following a 106-92 victory at Scotiabank Arena.
In particular, Spoelstra lamented the Heat’s inability to match the Raptors’ energy.
“We just did not respond well with their energy and a lot of it was just cuts, offensive rebounds, things at the basket. They were doing things with great force and we just did not meet them with the necessary force,” Spoelstra said, per Anthony Chiang of Miami Herald.
One point of contention for Spoelstra is the Heat’s inability to be more resolute on the interior. They allowed the Raptors to nab 15 offensive boards; moreover, they allowed them to outscore them by 26 points in the paint, which is simply a recipe for disaster.
“We just have to do a better job of it. We work at it, we drill it, we watch film on it, we talk about it. We just have to do it better and that’s the bottom line. It’s costing us opportunities to win. That’s painful enough. We’re capable of doing it. We’re one of the better rebounding teams in the league and we just have to get back to that,” Spoelstra added.
It has been a tough 2022-23 campaign for the Heat. The first seed in the Eastern Conference just 11 months ago, the Heat find themselves in a play-in tournament position at the moment. Their contest on Wednesday night against the New York Knicks will go a long way towards determining where they end up in the heated playoff race.
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