Wedneday's 98-90 loss to the Knicks was one of those rare instances this season when the Miami Heat wasn't within real striking distance of an opponent late.
I say that because of the Heat's 14 losses, nine have involved them either leading by no more than five points or trailing by no more than five points with under five minutes to play. The NBA refers to those scenarios as clutch situations or games decided late.
And the Heat, thus far, are 11-9 in clutch situations. That 55% win percentage ranks 12th in the league. That also means Miami is 10-5 when there is no real drama late in the fourth.
Last year, Miami was 23-17 in clutch situations (57.5 percent, 9th) and 14-28 otherwise. In LeBron James' last season in Miami, the Heat were 24-19 in clutch situations (55.8 percent, 9th) and 30-9 otherwise.
Unsurprisingly, the last three NBA champions -- Golden State (23-8), San Antonio (22-8) and Miami (32-8) -- had the best regular season winning percentages in clutch situations the seasons they won it all.
Now that I've gotten all that out of the way, it brings me to the point of this blog entry -- taking a closer look at what the Heat does in the fourth quarter and in winning time.
While powerhouses like the Spurs (12 games with clutch situations) and Warriors (13) and bottom-feeders like the 76ers (14) and Lakers (15) don't have many nail-biting finishes, the majority of games in the NBA for just about everyone do include some form of fourth quarter drama.
And the Heat almost always turn to their Big 2 -- Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade -- to guide them through those moments. Bosh usually handles the early part of the fourth quarter with the bulk of the bench on the court with him. Then, Wade comes in and gets the ball down the stretch.
While some may question coach Erik Spoelstra's decision-making in those situations, the numbers after 35 games suggest he's doing the right thing by going to Bosh and Wade. After all, the Heat as a team have the second-highest fourth quarter field goal percentage in the NBA (46.4%) behind only the Spurs (50.3%).
Bosh (48.7%) ranks seventh in the league among players averaging at least 3.5 shots in the fourth quarter (10 fourth quarters played minimum) and is tied for 12th in points scored (6.1). That fourth quarter shooting percentage is better than LeBron (48.2%), Kevin Durant (47.6%) and Paul George (46.4%). Wade, meanwhile, ranks 19th (42.4%) in fourth quarter field goal percentage and is 31st in fourth quarter points (5.0).
The only duos who rank higher than Bosh and Wade in shooting percentage when it comes to high volume shots in the fourth quarter are New Orleans' Anthony Davis (55.9%) and Tyreke Evans (50.8%) and Oklahoma City's (47.6%) and Russell Westbrook (43.2%).
Wade's real value is in clutch situations.
In terms of clutch shot attempts, he's taken the 10th most (46) of any player in the league. A total of 50 players have taken at least 25 shots of those clutch shots. Wade ranks 11th in that group in field goal percentage (45.7%) ahead of James (45.5%), Durant (44.0%), Stephen Curry (43.6%) and Westbrook (42.1%). Bosh, meanwhile, is tied for 42nd in that group at (29.0%).
Because of Bosh's struggles in those tight, late-game situations, the Heat's field goal percentage in the clutch (42.9%) ranks 12th.
And that's ultimately where things get interesting for the Heat in my eyes. If they don't have a sizable lead down the stretch of games and play great defense, it's usually Wade or bust.
That said, it's not like anybody else besides Bosh or Wade get much of a chance to do anything with the ball in the fourth quarter. In clutch situations this season, Wade and Bosh have combined take 64.7 percent (77 of 119 shot attempts) of the shots.
During the first three quarters of game, Wade and Bosh combine to take 35.6% of Miami's shots (755 of 2,119). In the fourth quarter and overtime, Bosh and Wade ramp it up to 41.2% of the team's shots.
But it's not just that those two ramp up their shot attempts. Fellow starters Goran Dragic, Luol Deng and Hassan Whiteside also disappear on the offensive end late in games.
Dragic, Whiteside and Deng combine to take 40 percent of the Heat's shots through the first three quarters. After that, they take only 15.5 percent of the shots combined (Dragic goes from 17.8 percent of the shots to 6 percent; Whiteside from 12.1 to 4.9; Deng from 10.1 to 4.6).
Part of that is because Gerald Green, Tyler Johnson and Justise Winslow play a lot more in the fourth quarter. And those three usually defer to Wade and Bosh.
But at some point, wouldn't it behoove Spoelstra and the Heat to try and develop a consistent, reliable third scoring option late in games? After all, that's essentially what Bosh was when LeBron was here. And that's why the Heat was so special.
Dragic, making $85 million, would seem the most logical option. He is shooting 45 percent from the field in the fourth quarter including 42.9 percent from three (6 of 14). But he's only attempted the sixth-most shots on the team (40) in the final period and he's only shot the ball four times total in the clutch.
Those are some eye-opening numbers.
Here are some more involving the Heat in the fourth quarter and in the clutch:
** Fourth quarter plus/minus: Deng ranks last on the Heat at minus 25. The other noteables: Bosh (+83), Winslow (+62), Johnson (+36), Beno Udrih (+30), Green (+24), Josh McRoberts (+22), Dragic (+22), Wade (+13), Whiteside (+8).
** Fourth quarter minutes: Bosh (301), Winslow (274), Green (248), Johnson (218), Wade (189), Dragic (187), Udrih (151), Whiteside (138), Deng (124), McRoberts (100).
** Fourth quarter shots taken and field goal percentage: Bosh (150, 48.7%), Wade (118, 42.4%), Green (87, 43.7%), Winslow (64, 42.2%), Johnson (62, 53.2%), Dragic (40, 45%), Whiteside (33, 81.8%), Udrih (29, 41.4%), Deng (27, 37.0%)
** Fourth quarter points per game: Bosh 6.1, Wade 5.0, Green 3.8, Johnson 3.5, Whiteside 2.7, Dragic 2.3, Winslow 2.3, Deng 1.5, McRoberts 1.4, Udrih 1.2.
** Clutch situations plus/minus: Green (+31), Wade (+27), Bosh (+21), Dragic (+18), Winslow (+4), Udrih (+4), Deng (+2), Johnson (0), Whiteside (-2).
** Clutch situations minutes: Wade (68), Bosh (64), Dragic (64), Green (41), Winslow (40), Whiteside (31), Deng (27), Johnson (24), Udrih (9)
** Clutch situation shots taken and field goal percentage: Wade (46, 45.7%), Bosh (31, 29.0%), Whiteside (9, 88.9%), Johnson (9, 44.4%), Green (8, 37.5%), Winslow (8, 37.5%), Dragic (4, 25%), Deng (4, 50%).
** Clutch situation points scored: Wade 56, Bosh 30, Whiteside 17, Green 17, Dragic 10, Johnson 9, Winslow 9, Deng 9.