Last month, Erik Spoelstra established an air-tight rotation for the Heat that was plowing through the league. Injuries to key players have forced his hand. Just look at the Tetris-like game flow from last night at Popcorn Machine and the lineups Spoelstra had to resort to, particularly down the stretch. Also take note of the long yellow stripe beside Carlos Arroyo's name after the first quarter, when he never re-entered the game.
Couper Moorhead on the Heat's defensive failings during the game's closing minutes: "[T]he HEAT were losing their designated assignments in transition. Rather than finding a man and sticking with him, players were running to spots. More often than not, this left a Hawk open on the wing or in the corner. That was the case in overtime, when Maurice Evans (11 points off the bench) opened up the extra period with an uncovered wing three, and Jamal Crawford (19) followed that up minutes later to break an 84-84 tie with an open triple of his own."
Has there been a more unfortunate matchup between two quality teams in recent years than the Hawks and Heat? The two squads delivered another in a long series of stinkbombs last night, prompting Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don't Lie to comment, "Because this was awful. A terrible game styled in the long history of Heat/Hawks games gone completely awful, in the image of the worst seven-game series we can remember -- the Miami and Atlanta pairing from 2009. Worse, the thing went into overtime. 53 minutes of gross."
Israel Gutierrez of the Miami Herald: "If the team is still experimenting with rotations, though, it would've been nice to see Mike Miller play more than 10 minutes. Granted, he didn't score in the first half (he hasn't scored a single point at home this season), but it wasn't as if he was awful out there when he was playing."
J.E. Skeets and Tas Melas of The Basketball Jones were not entertained last night.
Justin Kubatko at Basketball Reference pegs the Heat's chance to secure the No. 1 seed in the East at only 23.2 percent. He factors the Heat's projected record as 58-24.
Chris Perkins of Fox Sports Florida wonders if the Heat are elite and have the depth to achieve that status: "The Heat can't replace that with their current roster. If Miller returns to his expected level of productivity and Haslem returns in time to be a factor in the playoffs, the mid-February addition might not be needed. But right now, Miami has to plan as though Miller won't improve and Haslem won't return. Miami isn't in denial about making an addition. Rather, it seems a bit overconfident."
A silver lining for the Heat in their loss to Atlanta last night: they broke up one of the prettier sets of the game by the Hawks, as documented with visual aids by Sebastian Pruiti.
Dwyane Wade on L'Affaire Melo: "He seems like now he's getting to the point where he's fed up with it, he's tired of hearing about it, he just wants to focus on basketball ... It's not really bothering him as much as it was at certain points although no matter what kind of game he has, people are going to say something if he doesn't score 30."
Basketbawful isn't so bullish on LeBron's upcoming animated series and points to a precedent: "This is where I bring up ProStars, a failed Saturday morning cartoon (back when kids watched cartoons on Saturday morning) that starred Michael Jordan, Bo Jackson and Wayne Gretzky at the height of their popularity. If a cartoon with Michael Jordan rescuing children from burning buildings with the help of his rocket shoes didn't make it, The LeBrons don't have a chance."