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    09/07/2011 10:47 PM
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    06/23/2022 11:28 AM

2013/14 NBA Team Preview: Miami Heat

Season Review 2012/13:

Advanced Stats

4 Factors

Monthly Performance

The Heat had a fantastic season that ended with a back to back NBA championship. Even though Miami played extremely well throughout the season, they still needed a huge effort to beat the Spurs in one of the best NBA finals ever.

After having finally won a championship on the lockout season, Lebron James and the Heat didn’t have a big incentive to impress on the regular season, as after all their “real season” would only start in April. However, Miami set an extra gear in February and ended up having the second best winning streak in league history, while ending the season with a franchise best of 66-16 record and clearly the best record in the league.

Miami was by far the best shooting team in the league with an impressive mark of 55.2% eFG% and everything started with LeBron James playing the whole season in a different planet from everybody else. Defensively, Miami’s aggressive approach on the opposing ball handlers was notorious, with the Heat ending the season by being the #4 ranked best team on creating turnovers that would usually end on phenomenal transition plays. Due to the fact that they played constantly with undersized lineups with Chris Bosh at the Center position and LeBron James at Power Forward, the Heat weren’t naturally a good rebounding team during the season. The fact that they were just #26 on offensive rebounding is perfectly normal for a team that shot 56% eFG%! On the other hand, their defensive rebounding issues were clear against imponent frontcourt units. This is why Miami lost two games in the regular season against Indiana, one game against Memphis and had two losses against Chicago.

Even though they had a normal lazy approach against some lowly teams, the truth is that Miami had a 36-4 record against losing teams and an even more impressive 15-1 record in back to back games that are normally tough physical spots.

During their historical 27-games winning streak, Miami just toyed with their opponents by setting an extra gear only when it was needed. They were down by one point with four minutes to go at home against Portland, but they outscored the Blazers 16-2 in those four minutes. Then, they were down by 27 points in the third quarter in Cleveland, just to outscore the Cavs by 30 points in the last 19 minutes of the game!

Miami added Chris Andersen to the roster and Birdman was indeed a key player in several moments of the season. He was especially a huge upgrade on offense in comparison to Joel Anthony, who disappeared on the team’s depth chart as soon as Andersen joined the Heat.

Not even when Miami decided to rest their top players at the end of the regular season, they stopped winning. A team with a starting lineup formed by Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem, Rashard Lewis, Mike Miller and Norris Cole was good enough to win in San Antonio against the Spurs’ best team. In fact, the Heat won their last eight regular season games, while resting their key players a lot.

In the playoffs, Miami quickly dumped Milwaukee in four games, while resting Dwyane Wade in the last game of the series. Then, in the following round against Chicago, the Heat had much more problems of course, as they had already struggled against powerful frontcourts in the regular season, but after losing the Game 1 of the series at home, they won the four following games and went into the Conference final.

In the Eastern final against Indiana, Miami was unable to win back to back games, with the series being decided only on Game 7. Miami struggled on offense against the best perimeter defense in the league, while also having issue on rebounding against the powerful Pacers frontcourt. Indiana won the boards battle on the first six games of the series, with the Heat being outrebounded by 99-147 in the three games of the series where they played on the road! Roy Hibbert was a beast down low, but Miami’s aggressive defense in pressuring the ball handler managed to create 18, 21 and 21 turnovers in the last three games of the series. With Miami finally winning the boards battle against Indiana on the decisive Game 7, they were able to blowout the Pacers in that decisive game to win the Conference title.  

On the Finals against San Antonio, the whole series was a rollercoaster of emotions and adjustments made by both coaches. If Gregg Popovich is rightfully called an elite coach, then Erik Spoelstra needs to be recognized as elite as well for what he has done over the last two seasons with Miami.

Offseason Report:

With a team that won the last two NBA championships and that reached the Finals in the last three seasons, Pat Riley didn’t have a lot to do on the offseason. He just needed to make sure that the main core of the team would remain together.

For cap salary reasons, Mike Miller was amnestied, while Pat Riley convinced Ray Allen to play one more season after being the team’s hero in the decisive Game 6 in the Finals.

But Riley’s main goal for this off-season was to find a big man that could help the team’s interior play and Greg Oden was picked for that job, even though he has several health concerns around him. As a gamble without any risk for the team, Michael Beasley was also added to the roster on an unguaranteed contract.

Season Preview:

We are currently in an era on the NBA where as long as LeBron James is on his prime, the team where he is playing will be the #1 contender to win the title. Looking at the past two championships, Miami is obviously the main contender to win the title once again.

LeBron James is coming from a career season, where he had an incredible offensive efficiency with 56.5% FG and 41% 3pts! He even shot 46% FG from 16-23 feet, after shooting just 39% FG from that area in the previous season. His all-around game is just phenomenal and note that James was the team leader on points, rebounds, assists and steals per game. On a regular season game in Utah, James even guarded Al Jefferson down the stretch just to rotate and defend the Jazz’ guards in the following possessions! This kind of versatility is unique in the league and very few players in league history had this ability. He is building his own legacy and we’re glad to be able to enjoy the show.

Miami’s main potential problem for the new season will be the natural tiredness after reaching the Finals three years in a row. The Lakers with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol reached the finals three seasons in a row. The Lakers with Kobe and Shaq won three titles in a row, but then couldn’t reach the Finals in the following season. The same happened with the Bulls in the 90’s, who had two three-peats, but never managed to get into the Finals four years in a row. In fact, the last two teams that achieved this feat were the Lakers and the Celtics back in the 80’s!

A healthy Dwayne Wade might be the extra factor that can give the proper boost for the Heat in this season’s playoffs, as Wade was banged up in the playoffs over the last two seasons. Wade had just two months where he was 100% healthy last season, while playing 36 minutes per game in February and March. Guess what happened during that span of games? Miami’s 27-games winning streak! During that streak, Wade played very well, something that shows how unstoppable the team can be with a healthy Wade. He seems to be fine for now on the preseason. He rehired trainer Tim Grove and it looks like that he has dropped significant weight as well.

From all the players that are currently in Miami, Chris Bosh is the one who is sacrificing his individual numbers in order to help the team more. He is coming from a season where he shot a career high 54% FG, but he had never taken such a low amount of shots since his rookie season. The fact that he is primarily playing at the Center position forces him to defend the opposing centers more often and that requires a huge physical effort from Bosh. During the playoffs, he struggled badly against Roy Hibbert, who dominated him in both ends of the floor, with Bosh shooting 37.7% FG in the series, with a combined of 8-34 FG over the last four games. On the finals against the Spurs, Bosh improved but he still shot 0-5 FG on Game 7, something that shows how much he struggles against good centers and how important it will be for him and for the team to have Greg Oden stay injury-free the whole season. If Oden manages to get a solid 15/20 minutes per game, this will be extremely important to give Bosh some much needed rest during the games.

The backcourt’s structure will be basically the same as last season, with Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole and Ray Allen joining forces with Dwyane Wade. All these three guards are coming from efficient season and the same is expected for the new season. Shane Battier will continue offering some great versatility on defense, but it’s clear that he can’t guard a powerful PF for an entire series like it happened last season against Indiana’s David West. Chris Andersen, Udonis Haslem, Greg Oden and possibly Michael Beasley will also be part of the frontcourt’s rotation and they will have as their main task to stop their opponents from outrebounding the Heat.

In theory, Chicago and Indiana seem to be Miami’s main opponents for this season, as both teams have the right ingredients to cause some serious problems to the Heat, with an excellent perimeter defense and strong interior play. Like it was seen last season, it will be very hard for Miami to face these two teams in consecutive series, given the physical marks that will leave on them. And even if they get through all of this, they will still need to face the best Western team on the Finals to grab the title. Still, nobody would bet against Michael Jordan and the Bulls in the 90’s and the same thing can be applied with LeBron James and the Heat right now.

My name is André Gomes, I’m from Portugal and I am a Professional Handicapper. My sole purpose is to constantly beat the sportsbooks by taking advantage of the evaluation errors they make. It is most... Read more

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