MIAMI — The Heat scored 109 points in Wednesday’s season opener against the Magic. But Miami didn’t score enough to win.
Coach Erik Spoelstra doesn’t see it like that, though. In Spoelstra’s eyes, the Heat’s defense let them down as it allowed the Magic to score 116 points on 47.8 percent shooting.
“Too many to even list off right now,” Spoelstra said when asked after Friday’s practice about where the defensive breakdowns occurred in Wednesday’s loss. “We went through all of them on the practice court and in the film. We just have to understand how tough it is in this league not only to defend, but to do it on a high level. To get everybody on the same page playing with intensity and focus of mind. It’s a very good reminder of how hard it is to win in this league. It’s extremely difficult. You have to really compete on a high level and a coherent level, then to be able to do it on the road it becomes even more intensified. We certainly didn’t bring our best disposition or defensive mentality to that type of game in front of their home fans, excited, everything. 116 points is not the type of game we want to give up.
“Was it a perfect offensive game? No. But it was good enough to win on the road. A lot of our strengths were hit during that game. Both teams scored 56 in the paint. Both teams were able to get to their strength zones. We got to our strength zones, 37 layup attempts was one of our franchise records. We just weren’t able to defend and stop the bleeding.”
Even with center Hassan Whiteside out for Saturday’s home opener against the Pacers with a bone bruise in his left knee, Spoelstra expects a better defensive performance in Miami’s second game of the season. Indiana has already proven they can score a lot of points, though, after putting up 140 in a win over Brooklyn to open the season Wednesday.
“It was one of our poorer defensive games overall, particularly on pick and rolls. We’re much, much better than that,” Spoelstra said as he looked back at the Heat’s loss to the Magic. “We’ve shown that already in the preseason. We’ll just have to make sure we improve on it [Saturday]. That’s another team that scored a bunch of points in their opener. Maybe we don’t hold them to 90, but certainly hold them to under 100.”
Then Spoelstra quickly revised that statement, emphasizing that the Heat will not lower their defensive standards just because the Pacers scored 140 points in their opener and scoring is up across the league a few days into the season with 11 teams averaging more than 110 points entering Friday’s slate of games.
“Look, I don’t even what to go there,” Spoelstra said. “I’m not going to start setting our standards lower just because other teams are scoring. We can still impose and dictate what we want to or we believe is right, and continue on the other side of the ball to make our offense more impressive.”
The statistic Spoelstra kept returning to was the 56 paint points Orlando scored against the Heat. Miami allowed 44.5 paint points per game last season.
“56 points in the paint, that’s just not a winning formula for us, especially how we’re built,” Spoelstra said. “We believe we’re a team that is built to take away opportunities in the paint, opportunities at the rim, make it tough on those easy ones and then be able to build our defense out to the 3-point line.”