Erik Spoelstra issues confident message about Miami Heat’s defense despite major struggles'
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Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra addressed the team’s struggles on the defensive end since coming back from the All-Star break.

“We’re going to shore this all up,” he said. “That’s it. We’re going to shore it up. We’re capable of being much better defensively and that will happen tomorrow.”

The Heat, who still rank eighth in the NBA in defensive rating, have taken a step back since the break. The team entered the All-Star break fifth in the league in defensive rating, allowing 111.2 points per 100 possessions.

However, that has completely flipped over the team’s last 13 games since returning from the break. Miami is just 25th in the league in defensive rating in that stretch, allowing 117.8 points per 100 possessions.

The Heat have had some pretty ugly games on defense recently, with four of the team’s six worst games in terms of defensive rating this season coming after the break. Miami’s loss to the Chicago Bulls ranks as the sixth-worst defensive effort for the team all season.

Miami allowed 113 points to the Bulls on Saturday night, losing the game by 14 points. The loss dropped the Heat to just 38-34 on the season, and they are now two games back of the Brooklyn Nets for the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Heat are back in action on Sunday against one of the league’s worst teams, the Detroit Pistons. They are a perfect team for Miami to turn things around against, something it desperately needs if it is wants any shot at getting out of the play-in tournament field in the East.

While the Heat still have a two-game cushion on the No. 8 seed Atlanta Hawks, they’d likely be looking at a matchup with one of the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks or Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the postseason based on their current standing.

None of those matchups would be easy, and the Heat have certainly taken a step back from where they were at this time last season.

Miami has a ton of great defensive players in Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Gabe Vincent, Caleb Martin and others, but the team has lost its edge on that end of the floor since the break.

As a result, the Heat are just 6-7 over their last 13 games, which has stopped them from making any sort of leap in the standings.

Hopefully Spoelstra can get his team refocused on the defensive end with such a crucial stretch of the season coming up before the playoffs.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.