Heat are playing in a lot of close games. Is this a good thing? Let Dwyane Wade explain

Miami Heat’s Goran Dragic (7) and James Johnson (16) react in the final moments of the team’s 124-123 loss in overtime to the New Orleans Pelicans in an NBA basketball game Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Veronica Dominach)

NEW ORLEANS — The Heat are on the verge of making history. But they’re not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

After Friday’s 124-123 overtime loss to New Orleans, Miami has played in a franchise-record 17 consecutive games decided by single digits and is just three away from the NBA record of 20 consecutive games decided by single digits set by the Pacers in the 1982-83 season. In addition to this remarkable 17-game streak, 23 of the Heat’s past 24 games have been won or lost by single digits.

Miami (30-29) could continue that trend Saturday, when it takes on the struggling Grizzlies (18-39) to open a five-game homestand. The Heat are in the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot.

“It’s going to be one of two things,” Dwyane Wade said when asked if the Heat’s knack for playing close games is a positive sign. “At the end of the season, you’re either going to look back and say, ‘We could have won a couple of those close ones.’ Or you’re going to look back and say because you’re in the playoffs, now you’re battle tested.”

The Heat hope it’s the latter, but lately most of the close games they have been involved in have resulted in losses. The Heat are 1-8 over their past nine single-digit games, and their past three losses have come by a combined six points.

“You have to forge ahead, regardless of what emotions you’re feeling, frustrating, all these moments can benefit us,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I truly believe they will. We’re so close to getting over this hump. It’s just not happening on our time right now. And I know time is important, but we’re playing better basketball.”

Considering how close the Heat are to making history with their run of close games, it’s not a surprise they have also played in an NBA-high 42 clutch games — defined by the NBA as a game that has a margin of five points or fewer inside the final five minutes of the fourth quarter.

Miami has posted a winning record of 23-19 in clutch games this season, but they’re 1-8 over their past nine games that fall into this category. The Heat began the season with a 22-11 clutch record.

Despite Miami’s recent struggles, it is still one of the league’s top teams in these situations. The Heat own the seventh-best net rating in clutch games this season, ahead of teams like Golden State, Boston and Washington.

“You know what, as a team you got to go through it,” Wade said. “It’s unfortunate that in this playoff race that we got to go through these tough moments. We got to learn from it and move on quickly and be able to make the adjustments so when we get back in that same position in another game, that we do something a little differently to come out with the win.”

[A look at the uniform patch the Miami Heat will wear to support Marjory Stoneman Douglas]

[Dwyane Wade has needed adjustment period to get used to Heat way: ’It’s been like training camp all over again’]

[Report: Heat rookie Bam Adebayo received $36,500 loan from agency before entering NBA]

[Want more Heat news sent directly to your Facebook feed? Make sure to like our Heat Facebook page]