Or maybe the pre-game warmups. Or the player introductions.
All of these would be more ideal places for the Miami Heat to get jump-started rather than the actual game. The Heat have spent most of their time playing from behind this season, which has been the glaring stat in losing three of their past five games.
"We're playing from behind a lot," Allen said. "Being down, 8-10 points, regardless who the competition is, you have to at some point turn up your juices. That's layup lines, introductions, that's what all that's for. We have to start jumping into games and really putting teams that we're playing on their heels."
On Wednesday, Miami trailed the Golden State Warriors before regrouping in the fourth quarter. The Warriors withstood the charge to capture a 97-95 victory on a last-second shot by Draymond Green.
The issue, as is the case all season, was the Heat showing up late for the game. They have trailed entering the fourth quarter in 10 of their 20 games, including three of the past four. Miami was also down nine to the Brooklyn Nets at halftime before evening things with a strong third quarter.
Allen referred to the problems as "typical."
"We have to start games with a force," Allen said. "We let teams get comfortable on our own floor. That's what I see. That's the habits that I see. The losses that we've had are all about us easing our way into games. We can't do that. We have to play with that excitement that's going to keep throughout the whole game. We have to play a 48-minute basketball game. We haven't put it all together."
Record-wise, this is no time to sound the alarm. The Heat are still atop the Southeast Division and second to the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference. They have always gauged their play in April, May and June.
"We're not in a bad place right now," LeBron James said.
Still, there is reason for concern.
The Heat view the poor starts as giving "life" to the opposition. Teams such as Washington, Denver and Cleveland have gained confidence during games because of keeping the game close. The result is the Heat going just 4-6 when trailing after three quarters.
"You're getting in a hole that you don't want to be in," center Chris Bosh said. "Now, in the fourth quarter they [the opponents] have a little bit more confidence. They feel that they can make plays instead of hanging their heads a little bit."
Added guard Norris Cole: "If you give a team life, they'll continue that throughout the game. They get rolling. We can turn it on and off."
Bosh said the issue has lingered even in games they won.
"Really, the whole season, even the games that we've won, we've had to come back from behind," he said. "Even the games we played good second-half defense, like the last one against the Hawks, we gave up 56 points [in the first half]. It's all about the starts. It's going to be something every year. It takes practice. Every year is different. We're learning that now."
The disappointing aspect of the struggles is they are recurring during what was supposed to be a comfortable leg of the schedule. Miami is in the middle of a stretch where it plays 10 of 11 games at home. Coach Erik Spoelstra said the time at home was the perfect chance to correct the bad habits that have plagued the Heat.
Instead, the slow starts and defensive breakdowns, mainly at the 3-point line, are still evident.
"You have to deal with it," Spoelstra said. "It's an abnormal amount of time that we spend at home. We should be able to take advantage of that. We haven't done it quite the way we'd like to, so we'll move on to the next game."
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