The NBA season has been great so far watching players, coaches and ultimately NBA franchises get ready for what we call the stretch run of the NBA season. As teams fight for a spot in the NBA playoffs there is one common denominator, one purpose and that is winning the NBA Championship. The trade deadline has passed and the blockbuster trades never materialized. Therefore the DNA of your favorite team is already set; remember the phrase "They are who we Thought they were". Well its true barring major injuries or dramatic increase in player level the type of dramatic increase that turns Joe Johnson into Reggie Miller NBA teams are set.
Like the great Ric Flair once said "In order to be the man you have to be the man" and the 2011-2012 NBA Champion Miami Heat are currently storming the NBA on a 12 game winning streak. Dwayne Wade "W.O.W" or Way Of Wade is taking over 4th quarters and the Miami Heat look primed to defend their NBA Championship. So it’s not a matter of who will make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, it’s who has the better shot of defeating the Miami Heat in the postseason. In the end it comes down to matching strengths versus weaknesses.
Deep analysis of the Miami Heat shows glaring holes in several categories 46.6 is the number of rebounds the Heat average per game ranking 30th in the NBA. Miami's Offensive rebounding percentage 22.5% allows opposing NBA teams to grab at least 77.5% of Miami's missed shots on the boards. Heat average a total of 8.5 offensive rebounds tied 28th with the Boston Celtics in the NBA worst in the Eastern Conference. Miami is able to combat these stats with an Effective 54.9% FG best in the NBA and low turnover rate of 12.9%. Miami's perfect storm would be a team that can apply pressure on defense forcing turnovers while controlling the glass. Perimeter and Paint defensive oriented teams with an effective offensive system. Reasons why the Boston Celtics with Rajon Rondo normally give the Miami Heat great intense battles.
Contrary to belief the Miami Heat only excel greatly in three out of eighteen major/sub stat categories Points per Game 103.9, Turnover % 12.9 and Steals 8.7. Heats moderately perform in two major stat categories Point Differential +7.1 and Effective FG% 54.9. Miami is great at making up their flaws in the post offensively with great perimeter play as well last season the Heat shot 35.9% from three point range this number drastically increased in the NBA playoffs against the OKC Thunder when Mike Miller and Shane Battier got "White Heat Hot" from downtown. During the 2012-2013 NBA season the additions of Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen has increased the Heat's three point percentage to a scorching 39.1%
While the Miami Heat has several flaws mostly in the post/ paint it would take a multi-faceted team in order to dethrone the NBA Champions. List of Eastern Conference playoff teams with the ability to create havoc in the playoffs and strip the Heat of another NBA Finals appearance is slim. Here's a list of playoff teams with the ability to control the post defensively and offensively Indiana Pacers, Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks fit the bill here. Defensively the Heat could struggle against a defensive and aggressive Indiana team Pacers lead the NBA in PPG Allowed 89.6 other notable Eastern Conference playoff teams include Chicago Bulls 91.6, Brooklyn Nets 94.8, Boston Celtics 96.1 and Atlanta Hawks 96.2. Only three playoff bound teams hold opponents to a worst FG% Indiana Pacers 41.3%, Chicago Bulls 43.4% and Boston Celtics 44.1%. Once we look at the overall Adjusted FG% which shows the effectiveness of the opponents offense versus the defense only the Pacers 44.5%, Bulls 46.7%, Bucks (8th seed) 48.2%, Celtics 48.2%, Hawks 49.2% are same or better than Miami Heat. Once again the Heat combats these issues with effective offense and unmatched intangibles in LeBron James and Dwayne Wade.
Eastern Conference playoff teams prove that defense is the call Miami Heat’s offense sets them apart and beyond the rest of the pack. Heat average 103.9 ppg , 49.7 fg% and effective 54.9% fg rate. New York Knicks average 100.1 ppg but the offensive system is only generating a 44.3 fg% and Miami's defense is more effective due to lack of perimeter pressure. Atlanta Hawks DNA proves they have a good offensive system with Jeff Teague at the point and Josh Smith and Al Horford controlling the post generating a 46.3 fg% and Effective/ Adjusted 51.9 fg%. Issue for Hawks terrible home court more Heat fans in Philips Arena than Hawks fans you can actually hear the "Let's Go Heat Chants" drain out the announcer saying "Defense" when Heat have the ball, secondly Josh Smith and Al Horford always look overwhelmed by James and Wade being on the same basketball court. Injuries to Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose eliminates the Celtics and Bulls, I wonder what the Bulls offense would look like versus the Heat with a healthy Rose in uniform. Brooklyn Nets offense despite Deron Williams at point guard are terrible 95.2 ppg, 44.1 fg% and 49.1 effective fg%. Brook Lopez and Reggie Evans undoubtedly have the ability to control the post offensive/ defensive but where is Williams and Johnson?
Indiana Pacers represent the Miami Heat’s greatest defensive threat but lag far behind in all offensive categories 94.0 ppg, 43.4 fg% and 47.6 Adjusted/ Effective fg%. Middle to end of the pack NBA free throw and three point team. Since the All-Star break the Indiana has outpaced their offensive season averages posting 125pts v. Knicks, 114pts v. Pistons, 90pts v. Pistons and 108pts v. Warriors opening up to a 4-0 start after the break. Former All-Star Danny Granger is back from injury and the Pacers seemed posed with all the potential to threaten the Miami Heat if the offensive explosion continues. Most of all the Pacers don't seem fazed by the intangibles LeBron James and Dwayne Wade.
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