Fresh off a challenging 13-game stretch that included 10 road games, the Heat will be home for a while.
Miami begins a six-game homestand that spans 11 days on Monday. It comes at a good time for the struggling Heat (7-17).
Here are three things to watch this week:
Is a long homestand what the Heat need? We’re about to see. The Heat begin a six-game homestand, their longest of the season, with a game against the Wizards on Monday. The string of games at AmericanAirlines Arena comes at a good time, as Miami is hoping to snap a five-game losing streak. But the homestand isn’t necessarily easy. Every opponent Miami will face during the six-game stretch currently owns a better record than the Heat. The homestand includes games against winning teams like the Clippers and Celtics.
Heat health: This has really been one of the biggest stories of the season so far for Miami. Twelve Heat players (including Chris Bosh) have combined to miss 100 games due to injuries over the first 24 games of the season. It’s so bad that Miami had just eight players available for Friday’s loss to the Cavaliers. Luke Babbitt (hip flexor), James Johnson (rotator cuff strain), Justise Winslow (sprained wrist) and Dion Waiters (torn groin muscle) even missed the Heat’s recently completed three-game road trip to continue treatment and rehab work in Miami. The Heat are hopeful at least one of those injured players will be able to return this week.
Can defensive issues be fixed?: What used to be a strength has turned into a weakness for the Heat. Over the past 13 games, the Heat rank 25th in defensive rating with 109.9 points allowed per 100 possessions and have the seventh-worst field-goal percentage defense in the NBA at 47.1 percent while posting a 4-9 record. That’s not good for a team that’s also ranked 24th in offensive rating. The defense has to get back on track for Miami to start winning again. Will the Heat’s dominant defense return this week?