Erik Spoelstra: Defensive breakdowns cost Heat against Portland, not 3-point shooting

 

Portland’s’ Jusuf Nurkic dunks as Miami’s Goran Dragic, James Johnson and Hassan Whiteside look on during the Trail Blazers victory Sunday. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

MIAMI – Erik Spoelstra did not want to hear about his team shooting 29 percent on 3 pointers or anything else about the offense following the Heat’s 115-104 loss to Portland on Sunday.

Spoelstra knew exactly where this game was lost.

“I mean, how many do we have to score? We have to score 116 now to be able to win? That’s never been our formula,” he said. “It’s never been about the threes. We got good looks. We could never get the appropriate stops. They shot 51 percent and scored 115 points. We don’t simply win games like that. We haven’t all year. We have to hold teams under 100 and somewhere under 40 percent for us to have a chance.”

Spoelstra has never been about offensive numbers and attempts to steer virtually every question about the offense to defense. But a look at the numbers support his claim.

The Trail Blazers – who entered as the league’s sixth-highest scoring team with 108.2 points per game – shot 50.6 percent, the best shooting night against the Heat since Minnesota nailed 53.8 percent of their shots on Feb. 6, and just the third time the opponent has shot better than 50 percent during Miami streak of 23 wins in 29 games.

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Coupled with Minnesota shooting .500 from the floor Friday, the Heat have allowed their opponents to make at least half their shots in back-to-back games for the first time since early January.

Of course, it doesn’t help when you give up 49 points to one player, Damian Lillard, while allowing him to make 14-of-21 shots.

Portland also made 13-of-26 threes (Lillard was 9-of-12), equaling the second best shooting night by an opponent from long distance during Miami’s run.

Miami entered the game fifth in the league in points allowed (101.9) and seventh in defensive field goal percentage (.448).

“We would have had enough offensive possessions,” Spoelstra said. “We scored 104 and guys were able to put some points up there. But we were playing uphill the majority of the night because we couldn’t get the consecutive three or four stops in a row like we’re normally used to.”

Even while the Heat were going just 11-30 during the first half of the season, they still competed defensively holding opponents to 102.8 points on 45 percent shooting from the field, 35.7 percent on threes.

In the 29 games since, those numbers have improved slightly with the opposition averaging 101.0 points while shooting 44.7 percent from the field and 33.4 on threes.

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