Tonight, the Miami Heat will take on the Los Angeles Lakers at home and attempt to end their five-game losing streak. This game will mark the 35th game this season for the Heat against a team with a .500 record or better.And if the past is any indication, the Heat are in trouble. So far this season, the Heat are 15-19 versus teams at .500 or better.
And if the game is within three points or less, the Heat are in even more trouble. On the season, the Heat are just 2-8 in close games.
If we look at recent champions in the NBA, we can see that it is not unheard of to win the title despite struggling in these two areas. But it is rare (data via ESPN.com)…
The 2003-04 Pistons and the 2006-07 Spurs are the only teams in the last decade to win a title despite a losing record in games decided by three points or less. And the 2005-06 is the only team to struggle against teams with a winning record.
If we look at the group as a whole, the last 10 champs posted a 70-56 (.556) record in close games and were 244-145 (.627) against winning teams. The Heat’s winning percentages in those same situations are .200 and .441 respectively.
And if we look at the last 10 teams to lose in the Finals, it doesn’t get much better. That group was actually better in close games with a 75-55 (.577) record. Only the 2002-03 Nets posted a losing record. And against teams with a winning record, runner-ups were 229-170 (.574) with no teams under .500.
At this point, it may be time for the Heat to chalk this season up to “growing pains” and hope it gets better next year.
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