The Heat Is On



Most fans right now will point to the Heat and tell you that the apocalypse is coming for their team because their stars cannot seem to coexist. Although there is some truth to it, it’s not the reason this team is going through some tough times right now. Dwyane Wade has struggled with his shooting and shot selection, but Miami has still managed to stay relatively close in games given the amount of talent they have on their team. Believe or not, their issues lies within their commitment to defense.

If you watched Miami lose in Boston on opening night, you noticed that their rotations were on point and that every player completed their defensive assignment almost flawlessly. However, the rematch on November 11th was a completely different story. Arguably the best shooter in the game, Ray Allen kept getting wide open for uncontested three point shots. Indeed, the team’s attitude towards defense changed drastically after a week and half of basketball. Have a quick look at the Heat’s output from their first seven games this season:

Opponent
Heat Team
Opponent
Forced TOs
Boston
80
88
18
Philadelphia
97
87
16
Orlando
96
70
14
New Jersey
101
78
15
Minnesota
129
97
18
New Orleans
93
96
13
New Jersey
101
89
13
Average
99.6
86.4
15.3

Their defense did an exceptional job early on in the season of getting to the ball and contesting shots as a unit. Through those first seven games, Miami held its opposition to 40.4% field goal shooting.

What’s changed since? The team’s identity. No longer are Miami players focused on attention to detail and doing things the right way. Instead, the Heat are now cruising through games and are taking short cuts in hopes that their talent will eventually win them games late. Indeed, the Heat perimeter players (mostly Wade and James) are now switching a lot on defense instead of chasing their opponents through screens thus giving the opposition some intriguing match ups. It’s not a coincidence that teams keep putting them through a series of screens as of late, it’s because they know it will get them a favorable advantage.  Have a quick look at the Heat’s output in their past 10 games:

Opponent
Heat Team
Opponent
Forced TOs
Utah Jazz
114
116
12
Boston Celtics
107
112
10
Toronto Raptors
109
100
11
Phoenix Suns
123
96
17
Charlotte Bobcats
95
87
14
Memphis Grizzlies
95
97
12
Indiana Pacers
77
93
13
Orlando Magic
95
104
12
Philadelphia 76ers
99
90
14
Dallas Mavericks
95
106
11
Average
100.9
100.1
12.6

For all of Dwyane Wade’s struggles as of late, their offense has still generated points during this stretch. Their defense however has been abysmal as they’ve surrendered a sizzling 47.1% field goal shooting. Seriously, gunners such as Allen Iverson and Steve Francis are mad that no NBA team will sign them right now to play against the Heat. It would most certainly help boost their career field goal percentages (both are just about at 42%).

Word is the Miami players held a players only meeting yesterday after the loss to Dallas and unless the main topic of their collective conversation was to discuss their lack of defense, expect them to keep struggling.

Questions or comments? Feel free to leave them in the comments section or you can contact me by email at Shyne@Sbgorillas.com. You can also find me on Twitter with the handle name ShyneIV.

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