Short break welcomed
Heat finish 13-day trip .500; 3 of next 4 games at home
MIAMI — Heat center Hassan Whiteside compared it to the first day of a punishment being lifted when he was a child.
That’s the euphoric feeling the Heat have about a short but much needed break after their six-game, 13-day road trip. The Heat were off Monday and have another day of practice before taking the court again Wednesday against the Washington Wizards at AmericanAirlines Arena.
It gives them a rare breather from the constant grind of the NBA season.
“I think we got better on this road trip,” Whiteside said. “It feels like we’ve been on the road for two months now. It’s going to be good to sleep in your own bed and get to see your house and get back in front of Heat fans.”
The Heat ended the recent road trip at 3-3 but believed they could have finished stronger. They let games slip away at Denver and Detroit, including blowing an 11-point, second-half lead Sunday against the Pistons. The Heat opened the trip with a 95-94 loss to the Nuggets.
“Yeah, we finished 3-3,” guard Goran Dragic said. “If you look at the first one in Denver, we could have finished 4-2. It’s a tough one to swallow, but it was a good road trip.”
The brief down time gives opportunity to correct some of the mistakes they have made. The Heat got a little too comfortable against the Pistons after making 11 first-half 3-pointers, only to shoot 2 of 14 in the second half.
“We grew,” guard Dion Waiters said. “We took steps forward. We got better as a team. It’s early. We’ve got a chance to make corrections right now. Like I said, just keep moving forward. We went 3 for 3 on the road, which is a tough environment. We’re getting better. We’re moving in the right direction.”
Added guard Josh Richardson: “We finally get to go back home for a little bit. We’ll definitely take advantage of these two days to relax and rest and get ready to go.”
Aside from the two days between games, the Heat will have extended time in South Florida. They play three of their next four at home before embarking on another four-game trip.
“We feel like we’ve been on the road for a month,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It’s OK to have those feelings. Thinking about home, thinking about the end of the trip, that just makes you human. We all live such great lives at home.”
The trip did allow the Heat a chance to continue the adjustment process. They are still getting acclimated to new acquisitions and trying to solve identity issues.
Still, Spoelstra said he liked the direction the team is headed after the trip.
“I mean we grew, certainly,” Spoelstra said. “When we went out on this road trip 13 days ago I think we’re a better ball club now. Ultimately, that’s what you want. Of course right now, we feel like we could have finished the road trip a little bit better. We’ll be able to maintain the proper perspective on this as long as we’re continuing to get better, and like I said, we know pretty clearly what our identity is now and what a successful formula is for us, and what type of pace we need to play at.”
Center Hassan Whiteside is glad the Heat’s road trip is over. “It feels like we’ve been on the road for two months now. It’s going to be good to sleep in your own bed,” he said.