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Old 03-10-2011, 12:31 AM   #1 (permalink)
jeffb
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Heat SI: Miami has a BIG problem

Quote:
The Heatís level of play has declined. Theyíve dropped to sixth in both points scored per possession and points allowed per possession after threatening for most of the season to join a small group of clubs to finish in the top three in both.

Orlando, San Antonio and now Portland have shown that smart, patient teams can find good perimeter looks ó at least right now, in early March ó against Miamiís aggressive, rotating defense. The Heat arenít forcing turnovers at nearly the rate we may have expected early in the season, and that of course limits their ability to get out in transition, where they are the second most efficient scoring team in the league, according to the stat-tracking service Synergy Sports.

The Heat are on pace to win 55 games, just eight more than they won last season with Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem, a mildly effective Jermaine OíNeal and spare parts.

Miami has problems. Chris Bosh says he wants the ball down low more. Wade wants the ball more late in games and took issue with coach Erik Spoelstraís rotations after Tuesdayís home loss to the Blazers.

Those rotations reveal the fundamental problem in Miami: the lack of a second big man Spoelstra feels he can trust. Parse the data all you want, but I keep coming back to that particular roster limitation. Miamiís best backups (Mike Miller and James Jones) play the same positions as their two best players, and the Heat have been unable to get consistent minutes from six big men who sit on their bench every game.

That problem has crystallized in the last week. Before about a week ago, Miamiís small lineups, featuring LeBron James as the power forward, were a change-of-pace thing Spoelstra broke out in small doses ó typically at the end of the first and third quarters, when James plays alongside several bench guys while Wade and Bosh rest.


But over the last week, this has been Miamiís go-to lineup for long and crucial stretches. Some of that is likely due to recent opponents; the Spurs and Blazers love to use smallish lineups, inviting the Heat to do the same. But Miami used James at power forward for nearly the entire fourth quarter Sunday against the Bulls, even as Chicago kept two true big men on the floor for all but the final 15 seconds of that period. The lack of size came back to bite Miami in small ways. Luol Deng hit a runner over Wade when the guy who would normally defend Deng (James) was guarding Joakim Noah, and the Bulls snagged a few key offensive rebounds against the Heatís shorter personnel.
Quote:
The Heat clearly did not envision playing this way when they signed center Joel Anthony to a five-year, $18.25 million contract and picked up seemingly every thirtysomething big man willing to work on the cheap. What started as a five-minutes-per-game gimmick has become much more, and when Miami is finishing games with a three-guard lineup that includes Mike Bibby and Mario Chalmers, you know Spoelstra is flailing.

Quote:
But itís hard to imagine the Heatís winning the title over teams like Boston, Chicago and the Lakers if Bosh is the only big man they can count on.

The Point Forward Posts Flailing Heat have one very big problem
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