It's almost panic time for Heat

Heats' Chris Bosh goes for a loose ball against Paul Pierce (34) and Ray Allen of the Celtics...

Heats' Chris Bosh goes for a loose ball against Paul Pierce (34) and Ray Allen of the Celtics during Boston's huge win Monday night in Miami. (GETTY IMAGES)

Frank Zicarelli, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:14 PM ET

Chris Bosh hasn’t done much of anything recently, his game stuck in neutral, unable to get enough touches to find a rhythm, incapable of impacting an outcome when shots aren’t falling.

But the one-time face of the Raptors pretty much summed up his team’s plight in Miami following yet another crushing loss to the Celtics, a team no one wants to play with the playoffs looming.

“They were a step ahead of us the whole time,” Bosh admitted. “They kind of knew what our schemes were defensively.”

When Miami isn’t turning teams over and igniting a fast break no team can handle, when opponents are getting looks any mediocre shooter can bury, when rebounds aren’t being controlled, the Heat is as vulnerable as any.

With 10 games left before the real NBA season begins, a time when the Heat will ultimately be judged, Miami is a wounded side, a team that suddenly faces a must-win proposition heading into Thursday night’s tip in Chicago.

All season long, Miami has shown no ability to put together an extended stretch of dominance, replaced by periods of indifference and moments when it plays down to its opponent’s level.

Suddenly, there’s a sense of urgency with the clock ticking and concerns that have yet to be dispelled.

A loss to the Bulls Thursday night pretty much assures Chicago of first in the East and home court, while Miami knows it will one day have to meet Boston in a best-of-seven series.

The way the Celtics played Tuesday night in Miami and the way they shot the ball, no team could have beaten Boston, but it was Bosh’s comments that will resonate.

The way Miami has played in its last 10 games, it’s no surprise the Heat needs to pick up its game with 10 games remaining in the regular season, including two must-wins against the Bulls.

Heading into Thursday, Miami is 5-5, a stretch that has seen this once-dominant defensive team yield an average of 102.2 points in its losses.

In the five games Miami has lost, Bosh has averaged 13.6 points while shooting .409 from the field.

“We will get better,’’ Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra assures everyone. “Maybe this type of feeling that we’re having right now, it might be what this ballclub needs in these next two and a half weeks as we prepare for the playoffs and that run.”

It would be foolish for anyone to think Miami can’t mount a late-season push for the post-season, but it starts on Thursday in what is shaping up as the Heat’s biggest game of the season.

“We need a streak,’’ admitted Bosh. “We need a big-time streak. We need some tough road game wins.

“We have to put a streak of wins together. Winning always helps everything. We just have to make sure to stick together.”

But when a team allows a visitor to torch it for 115 points by shooting 60% from the field, it leads some to inch closer to the panic button.

“To give up 115 points on our home floor, that’s not our style,” Spoelstra said in a mild understatement. “We’re being made to feel uncomfortable right now. That’s the residual of the last three weeks or so.

“And when you feel uncomfortable, the one silver lining out of it is our group, staff and players, are getting to know each other now on the level that is needed for us to prepare for the playoffs. We all know we have to take a big step forward as a basketball team.”

On Thursday, the Heat plays a Bulls team that has simply dominated their opposition on the boards.

When Chicago avenged an overtime loss to the Knicks on Tuesday, Richard Hamilton finally had a game many envisioned when the Bulls acquired the veteran shooting guard this off-season, going off for a season-high 20 points, including 18 in the third quarter.

frank.zicarelli@sunmedia.ca

 


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