Williams: Miami Heat acquire Terry Rozier in trade, embark on lengthy losing streak

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Terry Rozier to Miami Heat graphic. - Graphics Editor / Julia Quennessen

On Tuesday, Jan. 23, the Miami Heat decided to trade Kyle Lowry and a 2027 first-round pick to acquire Charlotte Hornets guard Terry Rozier. Prior to the trade, Rozier was averaging a career-high 23.2 points per game on 45.9 percent shooting from the field. Acquiring Rozier is considered a big-time upgrade at the point guard position for Miami, since Kyle Lowry was going through a rocky season as the Heat’s facilitator of the offense, only recording four assists per game, his lowest since 2009.

It was also clear that the Heat needed help offensively, with players cycling in and out of the rotation due to injuries, the team being ranked last in offensive rating throughout January, and undergoing a three-game losing streak before the trade.

Since the acquisition of Terry Rozier, things have not gotten any better. The day immediately following the move, the not-so-hot Heat were about to embark on a back-to-back against the injury-bugged Grizzlies, as well as the No. 1 seed and Eastern Conference powerhouse Boston Celtics. Both games ended with the Heat on the wrong side, extending their losing streak to five. Rozier played in both of those games (coming off the bench in the first and starting the second), as he combined for 16 points on 28.5 percent shooting from the field and 25 percent from three-point range. 

The struggles continued heading into New York on Jan. 27, as their losing streak reached six games after losing 125-109. The good news for the Heat was that everyone was healthy and available, however, they still couldn’t seem to get out of their funk. The offense was a little better this time around, with the team shooting 46.6 percent from the field and 37.8 percent from beyond the arc, but the defense was the big issue since the Knicks shot over 51 percent from the field and three.

The bad stretch had taken a toll on the morale of the team. Players and coaches were trying to find answers to why they were in a slump. Head coach Erik Spoelstra said many times in press conferences that he wanted “Terry to just be Terry,” and be one of the shining lights that this team needs to get kicked back into winning, since their last win was back on Jan. 15 vs. the Nets in overtime. That game was the start of the Heat’s offensive decline.

Rozier seemed to hear what Spoelstra was saying, since he had eight first-quarter points against the Suns on Jan. 29 and had Kevin Durant on skates for the Heat’s first points of the game. The hot streak in the first quarter didn’t hold though, because by halftime, the Heat were down by 13. The rest of the game was abysmal for the franchise, as they were down by 26 points at the end of the third quarter.

The Heat eventually lost that one 118-105, extending their losing streak to seven, which is the longest skid for the franchise since 2008, when Dwayne Wade, Alonzo Mourning, Shaq, and Udonis Haslem were players on the team. Rozier ended the game with an impressive 21 points on 57.1 percent shooting from the field and 66 percent from beyond the arc. Rozier and Butler were the only big bright spots in a game that Heat fans would rather forget about.

With 35 games left in the season, the Heat have to kick themselves into gear and figure out what’s happening before it’s too late. Since the Heat’s last win on Jan. 15, four out of the seven teams they’ve faced have been over .500.

The big problem, however, is that they also lost to the three teams that were under .500, which makes me believe that the Heat are in more trouble than the losing streak suggests. The trade addressed the obvious problem they had at point guard with Lowry under-performing and Dru Smith being ruled out for the season, but every game there seems to be a lack of a consistent scorer in the team can count on to be a crutch when things aren’t going right. Jimmy Butler is usually that guy, especially in the playoffs, but this season he has taken a step back when it comes to scoring.

Bam Adebayo would be next in line with him being captain, but since the trade, Adebayo has averaged just 13.5 points per game. He’s made up for it by being an anchor on the glass, as he’s averaged 11 rebounds per game in the four games since the trade. Tyler Herro would be third in line, but things with the Heat’s sharpshooter have become questionable with many wondering if he’s reached his ceiling. 

With Miami’s “big three” not being the possible anchor this team needs when things aren’t going right, Rozier comes to mind as the next possible candidate to be that guy for them. Already showing leadership qualities on the court in the scoring department, Rozier could be the advantage the team needs to get over the hump by having the ability to play iso basketball and getting buckets any way he can.

This part of Rozier’s game is one that the Heat hasn’t had this season, which is what differentiates them from most teams, but this type of gameplay might be what they need to subtract the empty possessions that seem to happen a little too often.

The struggling Heat are hoping to turn the tide and turn this forgettable season around, or have it be more of the same. If it’s the latter, there’s a big possibility that Miami could fall to the ninth or tenth seed and have to fight for a playoff spot in the play-in tournament for a second consecutive season.

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