MIAMI – Originally envisioned as a relatively short day at the office, the Miami Heat ended Thursday's practice 90 minutes later than expected.
Even at 30-13, the Heat still seek some answers.
"A recalibration day for us," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
With good reason.
Miami has dropped four straight games, and practiced Thursday without Chris Bosh — who was in the building getting additional treatment on his sprained left ankle, casting some doubt on whether he'll play when the Heat host his former Toronto club on Saturday. Dwyane Wade sat out again as well, his sore and swollen left knee needing some down time.
Playing without Bosh for the first time this season on Tuesday in a loss to Atlanta left the Heat trying some unusual lineups and rotations. Miami shot a season-worst 36.4 percent, had its second-lowest scoring total at home even with the extra five minutes of overtime, and managed only 8 points in the first 11:59.
So on Thursday, a long video session was followed by the on-court work, trying to find a mix that works.
"When you don't understand why you're losing, now you're in trouble," Wade said. "We understand why. This is about us correcting it. The biggest thing is for us to continue to get healthy and now knowing that we might have to play with different lineups is to try to learn how to play with these lineups and learn how to win with this different teams. That's what the good teams have done."
Officially, Bosh is listed as day-to-day. Spoelstra did not rule out that he may be able to do some work on Friday, and cautioned that it's too early to rule him out for Saturday's game with the Raptors.
But given that Miami's first game post-Toronto isn't until next Thursday in New York, there may not be an urgency to rush Bosh back.
"We don't want to look at it as a concern, because we understand that we want him to get healthy," Heat forward LeBron James said. "Every team goes through it. When he's ready, and he feels like 100 percent or close to 100 percent and he's ready to come back, we'll be there. We're going to try to hold it down until he gets back. Guys will have to step up."
For now, the starting lineup remains the same: Carlos Arroyo at point guard, Zydrunas Ilgauskas at center, with Wade, James and Joel Anthony, who had 16 rebounds as Bosh's replacement against the Hawks.
Spoelstra said he'll evaluate the lineup before Saturday, so changes may happen. Ilgauskas had two stints after halftime against the Hawks, both lasting less than 2 minutes. Arroyo played the first 8 minutes of the game and never returned.
"It wasn't an indictment on them," Spoelstra said. "It was a scoreboard thing. Just looking for some kind of combination to spark a change in the game."
That search continued Thursday.
When the Heat arrived for work, their lead in the Southeast Division was just two games over the Hawks, 2½ over the Orlando Magic. And the four-game slide sent Miami three games behind Boston for the Eastern Conference lead.
Still, there isn't a major sense of worry. Spoelstra says Miami is one of the league's most-improved teams overall since the season began, and sees no reason why that trend cannot continue throughout the second half of the schedule.
"We may have to take a quarter of a step back in order to gain some of this continuity to take two steps forward," Spoelstra said. "I'm willing to do that now. There's plenty of time left in the season and since we've had the injuries we've had to do some of this anyway."