If you're a Miami Heat fan who thought the team would just pick up where it left off after an incredible run to the NBA Finals last October, it's been a rough few days. This was not the encore you had in mind.
On Saturday, another unrecognizable Heat team — thanks to players being unavailable because of COVID-19 precautions — looked putrid in a 20-point loss to the Detroit Pistons, dropping the team to 4-7 on the year. The Heat has used a different starting lineup almost every game this season, and few have worked.
Summarized in fewer words: This season has been a huge bummer.
But the Heat's challenges through these 11 games have been a blessing in disguise. More importantly, there's no reason to hit the panic button just yet.
While not ideal, Jimmy Butler has had a much-needed extension to his offseason, thanks to an ankle injury and COVID-19 precautions. Butler's muscles were probably still sore on Halloween from the NBA Finals, yet the next season began on Christmas.
The short offseason never made any sense and was unfair to the Heat. Everyone expected the team to start the season slowly. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has made things even harder than anticipated. Assuming that the Heat is a broken team based on 11 weird games doesn't make any sense.
The Heat is a team that is figuring out who it is. Coach Erik Spoelstra is using the time to tinker with different starting lineups. Players like Precious Achiuwa, Gabe Vincent, and KZ Okpala have been thrown into the fire, getting more than expected experience, while Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic, and Bam Adebayo have missed time.
But in two months, there will be a payoff to KZ and Precious having to start games. No one will remember a Saturday-night loss in January to the Detroit Pistons. They'll see the results of young players who look like veterans on the court.
The Heat's veteran players are getting a much-needed mental break from the high-paced COVID-shortened NBA season. And the younger Heat players are getting time on the court to develop themselves.
In the end, nothing can be assumed from the Heat's first 11 games because the Miami Heat, as a whole, has yet to play a game this season. Don't jump ship yet.
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