There have been many of these games this season, arguably too many.
When the Miami Heat aren’t good enough because they don’t have enough.
Tuesday night’s 113-103 loss to the visiting Chicago Bulls was another example, a game that offered little insight into what the Heat can be, because this is not who the Heat are.
Not without Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry and Caleb Martin.
Not, of course, that the standings care, the Heat back down to .500 at 16-16, as they again seek to plug the holes by getting whole.
With Butler missing due to a gastrointestinal issue, Lowry with knee pain and Martin with an ankle sprain, the Heat found themselves short on bodies and points.
“Our guys competed. It wasn’t a matter of that. It was a matter of doing things with precision,” Spoelstra said. “In the second half, I think the misses impacted our resolve on the other end.”
Bam Adebayo tried to do his part, the Heat center closing with 27 points, 12 rebounds and six assists, but beyond Tyler Herro’s 19 points, there wasn’t much else from Spoelstra’s team.
“It felt like our disposition on the road was much higher than it was today,” Herro said, with the Heat coming off a 4-0 trip.
The Bulls, by contrast, got 29 points and 12 rebounds from Nikola Vucevic, 24 points from DeMar DeRozan and 21 from Zach LaVine.
“They weren’t burning a lot of calories to score,” Spoelstra said, with the Bulls closing at .548 from the field, .419 on 3-pointers.
Five Degrees of Heat from Tuesday’s game:
1. Closing time: The Heat trailed 31-21 at the end of the opening period and then moved to a 57-52 lead at halftime.
The Bulls then put together a 30-7 third-quarter run to move to an 82-67 lead, before taking an 88-77 edge into the fourth.
“I don’t even remember them missing at the beginning of that third quarter,” Spoelstra said. “They took it from there.”
Chicago then went up 14 early in the fourth, with the Heat unable to push back from there.
2. Oladipo from the start: With Butler, Lowry and Martin out, Victor Oladipo was in the Heat’s starting lineup for the first time during the regular season since scoring 40 points on April 10 in last season’s meaningless regular-season finale on the road against the Orlando Magic.
Also injected into the starting lineup were Haywood Highsmith and Max Strus.
It was the Heat’s 12th starting lineup of the season.
Oladipo struggled with his shot, closing 4 of 13 from the field, including 2 of 8 on 3-pointers, finishing with 14 points in 34:14.
“I love where Vic is right now,” Spoelstra said. “I really didn’t want to do that tonight. I wanted him progressing and gaining confidence in his role off the bench.”
Spoelstra said the Heat having two days off both before and after factored into the decision to start Oladipo.
“I had to go out there and do it to the best of my ability,” Oladipo said. “I’ve been through too much to have any excuses.”
3. Robinson regroups (somewhat): On a night the Heat needed perimeter alternatives, both Strus and Duncan Robinson opened 1 of 5 from beyond the arc.
Robinson then made his next three attempts to move to 4 of 8 for 12 points at halftime.
Strus, by contrast, eventually fell to 1 of 7, where his night ended.
Two of Robinson’s conversions came as part of a 20-4 Heat second-quarter run, before the misses resumed. He closed 4 of 12 from beyond the arc, his only attempts of the night.
The only sustained 3-point success came from Highsmith, who closed 4 of 4 from beyond the arc in scoring a career-high 18.
“We were just trying to do whatever we needed to get this win,” Spoelstra said. “So we ended up shooting a ton of threes.”
4. Men in the middle: Back in the Heat-Magic heyday of Hassan Whiteside vs. Viucevic, both big men routinely filled the box score.
Now with the Bulls, Vucevic conjured some of that by scoring Chicago’s first eight points. Adebayo, though, had his own response, up to 10 points by the close of the opening period and 16 by halftime.
Adebayo also showed the diversity of his game, with five second-quarter assists.
“I thought he made all the right decisions in the first half,” Spoelstra said.
Vucevic, ever the Heat pest regardless of uniform, closed 13 of 17 from the field, including 3 of 5 on 3-pointers.
5. Start of something better (or bitter): The Heat fell to 9-7 at home compared to their 7-9 their road record, with Spoelstra hoping for more at FTX Arena.
“Our homestands have not gone the way we’ve wanted ‘em to,” he said. “We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves in terms of looking at the four games in nine days. But it is important.”
Next up are the Indiana Pacers on Friday night, with the Heat now 5-6 at home against teams with losing records.