The Miami Heat are on a brief break after finishing a six-game road trip that had more swings than a nursery school playground.
So, when it comes to evaluating the results of their trip, what we have here is a classic example of is the glass half full or is it half empty?
The case for half full:
-- The Heat played good defense throughout the entire stretch.
The six opponents shot a combined 40.5 percent from the field. Three of them shot in the 30s, three in the 40 percent bracket. The low was 36.3 percent (Pacers and Warriors), the high 47.4 (Jazz).
Only one of the teams topped the 100-point mark, the Jazz in a 104-97 win.
Their opponents averaged 92.2 points a game, and two (Pacers and Warriors) were held under 90. In fact, the Warriors didn’t even break 80 in being held to a season-low 75 points.
-- The scoring was there.
Despite managing only 77 points against the Pacers in the first game, the Heat averaged 97.2 points per outing with a season high 128 in the rout of the Kings.
-- The shooting was, too.
The Heat shot 47.4 percent in the six games, twice going over 50 percent (56.3 vs. the Kings, 54.2 vs. the Jazz). Their low was 40 percent against the Warriors, but that included a 4-of-16 performance in the fourth quarter when the issue had long been decided.
The Heat entered the final period with an 80-50 lead and none of the starters even got on the floor in the last 12 minutes.
-- The trip ended well.
After losing at to the Jazz at Salt Lake City, the Heat bounced back with wins on back-to-back nights for the second time in a less than a month.
What adds weight to the significance of that is that both were on the road. The last time the Heat won games on consecutive nights (Dec. 25-26), one (the win over Oklahoma City on Christmas Day) was at home, the other (at Charlotte) on the road.
In addition, the rout of the Warriors made up for a two-point loss to the same team back in Miami on Dec. 12.
-- Dwyane Wade rallied.
After scoring just 11 points at Utah, when he didn’t even get off the bench in the fourth quarter of the seven-point loss, Wade bounced back with 15 in three quarters against the Warriors (no starter played for the Heat in the fourth quarter) and 27 in the win over the Lakers.
He was a combined 17-of-32 from the field in the two games and also had a dozen assists.
The glass is half empty:
-- One big problem persists: rebounding.
Opponents outrebounded the Heat in five of the six games by an average of eight a game (45.7 for the opponents, 37.7 for the Heat).
The Pacers were able to win despite shooting only 36.3 percent from the field to the Heat’s 41.2 because the Pacers’ 55-36 advantage on the boards got them 91 field goal attempts to the 68 of the Heat, who hit 41.2 percent.
-- This wasn’t a journey through hell for the Heat. One shouldn’t get too carried away with routs of overmatched opponents.
With the exception of the Pacers, it’s not likely the Heat will be facing any of these opponents in the playoffs.
Through Thursday night’s games, the Pacers at 24-16 were third in the Eastern Conference and the Warriors at 23-14 (but only 5-5 in their last 10) fifth in the Western.
But the Jazz were just two games over .500, the Trail Blazers just one, and the Lakers and Kings were both well under the break-even mark.
The Western swing did not feature any meetings against the best in the opposite conference (Thunder, Clippers, Spurs, and Grizzlies).
-- End-game situations didn’t really go well.
The Heat led the Trail Blazers by 12 points at the eight-minute mark of the fourth quarter, by 10 with 6:27 left in the game and by three entering the final minute.
After taking a 90-88 lead with 43.9 seconds remaining, they didn’t score again. Portland took a two-point lead with 10.9 seconds left, and Mario Chalmers missed an open 3-pointer at the the buzzer that would have won it for the Heat.
The story was just the opposite at Salt Lake City.
The final seven-point margin would seem to indicate a closely contested game, but it took a huge surge by the Heat to make it that close. They trailed 84-65 entering the final quarter.
The Heat got that down to four points at 95-91 with 3:13 remaining and had an opportunity to get closer, but LeBron James was called for an offensive foul with under three minutes left.
It was still a five-point game (98-93) after James’ jumper with 1:15 remaining, but the Heat couldn’t come up with the rebound on Jamaal Tinsley’s miss, and the Jazz cashed in on the second chance with Gordon Hayward hitting a 14-foote to make it a seven-point game with just 40.4 remaining.
So there you have it.
Glass half full? Glass half empty?
Coming up: The Heat are host to Toronto Wednesday night for the first of three meetings. The Heat swept last season's three games and have won eight in a row over the Raptors. The next two meetings are Feb. 3 and March 17, both in Toronto.