So, what happened to the Warriors in Miami?
They were undone by a combination of factors, from the locale to the challenge of playing on consecutive nights to their tendency to saunter through the first half before unleashing the full force of their talents in the second.
From the poor long-distance shooting to the thrashing they took on the glass.
There also was the absence of Andre Iguodala, sitting on a rest night, and perhaps most of all, Heat guard Dion Waiters performing as if he were Superman.
Each of these was a factor, and the combination of challenges was too much for the Warriors to overcome in a 105-102 loss at American Airlines Arena.
“Tonight was an NBA loss on a Monday, nothing to panic over,” Kevin Durant told reporters in Miami.
“We were just a step slow.”
That they were, at both ends. The offense too often trudged about as if jogging in mud, and the defense lagged along as if affected by fatigue or disinterest.
“Give Miami credit: They played harder,” Klay Thompson said.
The Warriors (38-7) through the first three quarters were outrebounded 37-29 and outshot from 3-point distance -- their specialty -- 37.5 percent to 18.2 percent. If go into the fourth quarter shooting their average (38.7 percent) from deep, they have an eight-point lead.
Instead, they were down four, 77-73, and in need of a comeback on a night when Waiters was a force field against that possibility. He scored a career-high-tying 33 points on 13-of-20 shooting, including 6-of-8 from deep.
“You have to tip your hat to him,” Durant said of his former teammate in Oklahoma City. “He made big shots all night. He was aggressive. He had his jumper going. He didn’t hit the rim tonight; everything went straight in.”
The Warriors were down, 98-88, with less than four minutes to play before embarking on a stirring comeback to tie the game, 102-102, on a Durant dunk with 11.7 seconds left. They came alive, suddenly playing with their hair on fire.
And Waiters, who scored 24 points in the second half, poured water right on top of their heads, draining a 3-pointer with 0.6 seconds to win the game.
“We didn’t have a good effort just trying to execute the first 3[1/2] quarters,” said Stephen Curry, whose 10 rebounds were more than Draymond Green and Durant combined. “You feel like you still have a shot down seven to 10 with six minutes left.
“But when you get down like that on the road and a guy hits some tough shots like Dion did, you have to take that pill and understand we put ourselves in that position to allow those shots to effect the game. He played well, but we didn’t do anything to help ourselves the first 3[1/2] quarters.”
So ended the seven-game win streak during which the Warriors were utterly dominating, beating opponents by an average of 19.4 points per game. The usual culprit, death by turnover, is not to be blamed.
The Warriors committed 14 turnovers, off which the Heat scored 8 points, while scoring 18 points of 15 Miami giveaways.
“It was more a case of not being fully engaged defensively and on edge like we need to be,” coach Steve Kerr said.
In Miami, of all places, the Warriors strayed from their normal routine. They arrived late Sunday afternoon and did not have a shootaround Monday morning. They rested Iguodala. They missed eight free throws and 22 triples.
They found no real rhythm until the final, futile minutes.
“We just have to play from the beginning,” Draymond Green said. “I don’t think we really ever established ourselves in that game. Other than a little at the end, that was it.”
And, still, that might have been enough, if not for Waiters.
Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors remain in the top spots on the NBA’s Most Popular Jersey and Team Merchandise lists, respectively, the NBA announced on Tuesday morning.
Results are based on NBAStore.com sales from October 2016 through December 2016.
Rounding out the top five are the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James (No. 2), the Warriors’ Kevin Durant (No. 3), the Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving (No. 4) and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook (No. 5).
The Warriors hold on as the top-selling team, followed by the Cavaliers at No. 2, the Los Angeles Lakers at No. 3, the Chicago Bulls at No. 4 and the New York Knicks at No. 5.
Top 15 Most Popular NBA Jerseys
1. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
2. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
3. Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors
4. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
5. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
6. Dwyane Wade, Chicago Bulls
7. Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks
8. Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
9. Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls
10. Derrick Rose, New York Knicks
11. Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors
12. James Harden, Houston Rockets
13. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
14. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
15. Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
Top 10 Most Popular Team Merchandise
1. Golden State Warriors
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
3. Los Angeles Lakers
4. Chicago Bulls
5. New York Knicks
6. San Antonio Spurs
7. Oklahoma City Thunder
8. Boston Celtics
9. Philadelphia 76ers
10. Toronto Raptors
NBA media services