Dwyane Wade on mindset for Heat going into road trip.
Between Hassan Whiteside’s upset stomach and the Miami Heat unable to build momentum during their homestand entering a six-game Western Conference swing, the team is going to need to find a way to get going on the upcoming road trip.
Off to a 9-14 start this season after Miami came up empty on a chance to notch a third consecutive victory on Tuesday night against the Orlando Magic, it won’t get easier.
Over the next week and a half, the Heat will not only be away from home, but far from home. Phoenix on Friday night, Los Angeles the next night aganist the Clippers, followed by the Lakers on Monday, and then Utah, Memphis and New Orleans on the way back home.
These are the times when a team looks to a 16-year, future Hall of Fame veteran to lead them. And Dwyane Wade has spoken to the team.
“It’s been addressed,” Wade said on Wednesday. “You just got to go perform, and understand where we’re at in the season. We’re going on the road for six games. We’ve got to play good basketball.”
Wade has noticed the team getting complacent after any small bit of success, and it hasn’t allowed the Heat to reel off any kind of winning streak to get back over .500.
“It didn’t feel like the last two games where we needed wins because we were struggling,” Wade said following Tuesday night’s loss to the Magic. “I think winning two, we just relaxed — for some reason, like we got enough wins around here.
“We got to go. You know, it’s go time. You don’t want to get too far behind because this league is a good league, and you [may] never be able to catch up.”
The loss put the Heat at 1-7 in games against Southeast Division opponents — a division which entering Wednesday has no team above .500. Miami is losing to teams it should be better than, a notion to which Wade offers a sharp counterpoint based on the results.
“Are we better?,” he asked. “Orlando was better than us coming into [Tuesday night]. We’re not better. They’re beating us, so we’re not better.”
The Heat can’t afford to look at the 4-20 Suns in that regard either.
“It’s not looking at Phoenix and saying, ‘Oh, we should get that game.’ We’re not one of the best teams in the league,” said Wade, offering a dose of reality. “We’re one of those teams where people look at us like, ‘We should get that game’ — because of our record.”
Making things more difficult, point guard Goran Dragic has missed eight consecutive games with a swollen right knee that has taken longer to heal than the team originally hoped.
“Goran’s continuing to work,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, adding his absence shouldn’t make or break this team. “It doesn’t matter. This is who we have, and we have enough. And we’ve proven that we’ve had enough. I love Goran and I really want him back more than anybody, but that’s where we are right now.”
Added Wade: “You can’t look to what you don’t have. Right now, we have what we have.”
Ankle felt fine for McGruder
Dealing with a sprained right ankle, wing Rodney McGruder was able to keep his starter streak alive on Tuesday, now starting in all 23 of the Heat’s games this season. He was questionable going in.
“I feel like the training staff did a good job of just getting me as comfortable as I possibly could,” said McGruder, who ended up with seven points, seven rebounds and two assists in nearly 27 minutes.
It came down to proving to the training staff his movements weren’t affected by the ailing ankle after stepping on Jazz point guard Ricky Rubio’s foot to make an early exit on Sunday.
“I wanted to go back, but doc didn’t think it was a good idea to go back, so that’s why I didn’t,” said McGruder, adding it’s best to side with the medical staff’s take. “Have to because they’ve seen these situations so many times.”