Fans, players, and coaches of the Miami Heat all had to have woken up this morning in a state of agony.
Fresh off losing their third consecutive game to the irritable and underrated Charlotte Hornets should have that effect. We had the brooms out a week ago but what a difference five days make.
Many fans think Erik Spoelstra is the problem.
Sucks LeBron isn't there to bail out Spo's inept coaching.
— Josef Mamba Out (@SportsNoBS) April 28, 2016
Gabrielle Union should b more mad at Spoelstra and his wack offense n wack rotations
— Steph Currency (@D1Balluh) April 28, 2016
— Mike Mike (@SirMikeCrayton) April 28, 2016
Yet if we take a closer look at the facts instead of playing the overly simplistic game of Scapegoat Wars, you’ll notice the loss might actually not fall on one man’s shoulders — the Heat was a mere play or two away from an entirely different result and narrative.
Keep in mind, I honed in on the final seven-minute chunk and pulled out an array of plays that went wrong for Miami for vastly different reasons.
Keep the Official Heat Fan Reaction Flow Chart handy, as you might need it for reference.
Exhibit 1: Jeremy Lin drives baseline and kicks to the corner for an open three. A few powers at work here: the help defender in Justise Winslow can’t get back to the corner quickly enough, partly because he doesn’t feel comfortable leaving the strong-side big because Hassan Whiteside is not between his man and the basket.
Not Spo’s fault…
Exhibit 2: Either Luol Deng has a seizure mid-drive or — the more likely scenario — Courtney Lee makes an excellent and risky defensive play by deflecting the ball off Deng and into the seats for a Miami turnover.
Not Spo’s fault…
Exhibit 3: Wade attacks left but his penetration is halted by a double-team and kicks to Josh Richardson for a 28-foot air ball.
Wade could’ve made the pass a second earlier for a cleaner Richardson three much closer in…
… or the rookie could’ve decided that with four seconds still on the shot clock maybe a 28-footer wasn’t the wisest action.
Not Spo’s fault…
Exhibit 4: Joe Johnson is ONE step away from a critical rebound that would’ve given the Heat a one-point lead and possession with 25 to 28 seconds remaining.
Instead, Lee beats him to the ball on a pure hustle play.
Spo, “MAKE JOE WANT IT MORE!”
Exhibit 5: Wade penetrates and Goran Dragic receives what seems like a quality look in the corner for a three but it’s blocked. Wade recovers and goes up strong inside, hoping for a foul but coming up empty.
Judging from this angle, it’s clear it was a horrendous no-call and he might’ve been fouled twice.
— Josh Baumgard (@joshbaumgard) April 28, 2016
It’s not because Spo drew up some horrid play.
And it’s not because the refs are out to get Miami.
The Hornets hit 50 percent of their threes despite it being the very element Miami has prioritized to take away. Call it the vicissitudes of 3-point shooting.
That’s not to say it’s unjust to be critical of Spo’s rotations or adjustments but to single him out as the source of Miami’s issues is — to use a Spoism — for the theater of the absurd.
Sometimes things don’t go your way in this beautiful but whacky game of ours. Often times there are many reasons why the W slipped away.
As Miami heads to Charlotte on the wrong side of an elimination game, take a step back and realize the Heat’s predicament is not Spoelstra’s fault.