Originally posted on Fox Sports Midwest  |  Last updated 3/27/12
Teaching moments to coaches are like wide-open 3-pointers to players; they often prove too tempting to resist. Sometimes, though, the thing to do is pass. Coming off a frustrating 103-87 loss in Oklahoma City Sunday, facing another road game Monday in Indianapolis, Miami Coach Erik Spoelstra opted to spend much of the team's preparation time going over the mistakes made in the loss to the Thunder -- which he referred to as "a boiling point" -- in hopes of putting an end to his team's road funk. Instead, he got more of the same. Miami never led in the second half in a 105-90 loss to the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Spoelstra can't wait to take his team's talents to South Beach. Miami has dropped six of eight on the road. What might be the most talented team in the NBA currently possesses its third-best record at 35-13, trailing both Chicago (40-11) and Oklahoma City (37-12). At the moment, Spoelstra and the Heat are less concerned with the tangible goal than the performance level. Without the latter, the former becomes moot. "It has more to do about how we're playing," he said. "And we're not pleased with how we've been playing on a consistent or inconsistent level the last three weeks. Until we change that, we can't even really focus on that top record. We're not there yet. Chicago's able to still create some separation. But we feel we can win anywhere when we're on top of our game and we're not doing that right now." On each of the last three road trips, the Heat has gone 1-2. There are recurring problems at both ends of the floor. On offense, ball movement and protection; on defense, well, everything. After yielding 103 points, getting outrebounded 36-31 and producing more turnovers (21) than assists (17) in Oklahoma City, guess what happened Monday night? Miami yielded 105 points (on 46 percent shooting) was outrebounded 49-33 and produced more turnovers (17) than assists (11). Where to start? Try the top: James was outscored by Danny Granger 25-24 and committed six turnovers. "Turnovers, for sure, are our Achilles heel right now," James said. "We turned the ball over. And when we dont rebound, it doesnt result in wins for us. Some of the turnovers you can live with. Were attacking and guys are trying to make a winning play. But some of the ones when youre just careless, you dont like those turnovers. I know I had a few careless ones tonight." The statistics quantify the issues; the play illustrates it. Opponents know Miami is a team capable of wiping out any lead in an instant, which puts added pressure on every possession. This is true for Indiana in particular. When last these teams met, the Pacers had the ball and a four-point lead in the final 90 seconds of regulation and couldn't protect it. They had a five-point lead with less than two minutes to go in overtime and couldn't protect it. Miami won the game 93-91 on a shot Wade wasn't even trying to make. Tightly guarded with time running out, Wade pump-faked young Paul George off his feet and leaned in to draw contact -- only the official didn't bite. With no whistle, Wade simply flipped up an off-balance, heave that naturally found the hole as time expired, and the Pacers' spirits were crushed -- this one worse than the previous two, which were Miami blowouts. And so when James followed Mario Chalmers' bucket by stealing the inbounds pass with less than five minutes remaining and the Heat trailing 96-87 Monday, it was time to put the quiver in Indiana's knees. Except for this: the ball caromed around pointlessly from player to player until Wade tossed up an airball from the baseline. He had no other reaction than to walk upcourt wearing a sardonic grin. "Sometimes you go through these spells in an NBA season and it's a struggle," Spoelstra said. "The last two for us were a struggle. Tonight was a little bit different than last night. The guys were out there competing, but we just couldnt get over the hump. We just have to stay the course." The situation is not exactly desperate. This still is one of the most feared teams in the NBA, but the aura of invincibility is wavering. Orlando looms just four games back in the Southeast Division, meaning the rear-view mirror offers a target almost as big as that in the windshield; Chicago's conference lead is 3 games. "We hit a little pothole in the road here," Wade said. "But we'll make adjustments before we get back out on the court." The key is to make them stick before they get back out on the road.
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