The Miami Heat entered the fourth quarter of Saturday night’s game in Minnesota within striking distance to steal a victory without Jimmy Butler. After Tyler Herro hit a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to three, Minnesota reeled off a 16-1 run to blow the game open and hand Miami a 106-90 loss.
“We just couldn’t get shots to fall, even if they were open, then we had some poor execution that led to some turnovers or some tough shots,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after the game.
The Heat have been outscored in the fourth quarter in each of their three games to start the season, with the Pistons, Celtics, and Timberwolves combining to outscore Miami 85-60. A major reason why the Heat have yet to win a fourth quarter this season is due to their offense hitting a wall.
In this instance, after Bam Adebayo’s mid-range jumper at the 9:59 mark of the fourth, the next field goal made was a Dru Smith 3-pointer with 3:09 left in the game, making it over six minutes without a make from the floor.
Butler’s absence on the second night of a back-to-back put a lot of scoring responsibility on Herro and Adebayo. Before the game, Spoelstra said that Butler could continue to miss back-to-backs this season for rest purposes but that the team will take it “week to week.”
While both Adebayo and Herro had their moments, they were unable to put together another scoring clinic like the one on Friday in Boston.
Although Herro did score 22 points and led the team with four made 3-pointers, he wasn’t the most efficient from the floor, shooting 8-for-23 to finish the night.
Adebayo was able to get to the free-throw line and led the team in attempts with 10. The problem was that Adebayo, a career 75.6% free throw shooter, only made half of them.
With Herro and Abedayo struggling with their consistency, Miami relied on the 3 ball to get them back in the game. They took a season-high 38 shots from deep, but missed their first five attempts in the final quarter.
The Heat have executed well enough in the first three quarters of each game to give themselves a chance to win, and carried leads into the fourth quarter against the Celtics and Pistons and trailed by only seven entering the final frame Friday in Minnesota. But the Heat have been unable to put together a productive fourth quarter. And while Miami was able to escape with a victory against Detroit, they were buried by Boston and Minnesota in the fourth.
On Friday, the Heat shot 50% in the first quarter, 47.4% in the second, 41.2% in the third and 24% in the fourth. The Heat have shot 27.3% in their three fourth quarters this season.
While it is only three games into the season, these end-of-game issues are worth monitoring. Especially considering that Miami had the fourth-best point differential in fourth quarters last season. Whatever the reason, the Heat need to work to solve an issue that has already cost them a pair of wins.