The Miami Heat are 9-1 in the playoffs, which would imply that there isn’t much room for criticism. But in order to remain on top, they must always seek ways to improve.
And in the Heat’s case, that improvement would be to not be behind going into the final period of play.
There’s no questioning that Miami’s fourth-quarter closing line-up has been extremely effective throughout the playoffs. But picture a scenario where those guys have a lead to defend rather than having to fight their way back to the game.
The defenders in that line-up will make it very difficult for other teams to repeat the Heat’s comeback efforts against them if they had a lead going into the fourth.
Miami’s play in the third quarter has been underwhelming this postseason, having been outscored 279-257 over their 10 playoff games. They have lost the third quarter six times during their postseason run. And in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Boston Celtics won the period 28-16.
Luckily for the Heat, they have outscored their opponents nine out of 10 times in the final quarter to hide the fact that they haven’t been great in the first 12 minutes of play after halftime.
Another way to prevent this is to start stronger. In Game 1, Miami was down by double digits within the first eight minutes of the match. The Heat get a pass on this one as they bailed themselves out, but shouldn’t expect a repeat of that against the team that gave up the second-fewest points in the league this season.
While it’s nice to know that Miami is always in games due to their relentless play in the final period, it would be easier on the nerves if they could come out of the locker room stronger to start the game and in the second half in Game 2 to establish that they don’t need a miracle to win this one.