So far in the season, we have not witnessed the Miami Heat at their best. They currently sit at 8-4 after a three-game losing streak, but they do not seem like the same team as last year.
A lot has to be a new offensive philosophy of pushing the pace early and often in games. While Miami is putting up a league leading 106.2 points a night, this is not the recipe that helped them make a NBA Finals appearance in the 2010-11 season.
Miami was poised last year on shutting down an opposing offense and run the floor based of the results of a play. While they are creating an impressive 19.4 turnovers a game, they are still giving up 99.3 points a night, one of the NBA's worst.
That being said, it's clear that the Heat may have different plans for success this year. However, there are plenty of problems with this offensive pace.
For one, consider three injuries to your two best players. Dwyane Wade once again went down Friday night in Denver, but this time based on a different ankle. Then of course you have the sprained ankle LeBron James suffered on a fast break against Indiana.
Injuries like these often happen in the NBA, but playing at the fast pace Miami has thus far only increases opportunities and likelihood of these occurrences.
Another glaring issue is the high number of turnovers the Heat are coughing up. Miami leads the league in turnovers this year with a brutal 17.8 a game, but do not seem to be on the trend of cutting those down.
This high-speed offense is supposed to be aimed for James and Wade to do what they do best, but the problem is they are combining for 7.1 of the team's turnovers. If they want to run the floor, they must realize when to slow things down when they are not going as planned.
This could also be a huge factor in why Miami is struggling so hard to get fourth quarter production. For those that stayed up to watch the game Friday night, it was noted that LeBron asked for a break toward the end of the third quarter. For one of the best conditioned athletes around to do such, it really proves the physical toll that the pace can bring.
Other teams that play a steady speed throughout the game seem much more poised to succeed against Miami in the fourth quarter.
Another issue that has to be talked about is Miami's triple-overtime win against Atlanta, a team that beat them earlier in the season. Without Wade and James, it was Chris Bosh who led the the Heat to an extremely important win for the season.
They didn't push the floor as much, but actually showed just how well the role players can play in a half court set. In fact, it showed that Miami doesn't have to slam on the gas pedal to have success in a game.
Miami has some great surrounding talent that is often underutilized while racing down the floor. While it is what is best for James and Wade, it isn't always ideal for the team in general.
This pace makes Bosh ineffective at times most importantly. He is someone who can shoot from mid-range as well as put the ball on the floor and beat slower defenders off the dribble.
Along with that, it will also hamper Miami's ability to space the floor at a desired liking. Players like James Jones or Shane Battier are often lagging behind, but also become irrelevant in helping set up an offense.
On the flip side, you have Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole who can also push the ball, but they aren't proven finishers at the rim. While they can run, they must focus on becoming facilitators and spot-up shooters in a half court set.
With all of this said, Miami can win games at this pace, but it doesn't have long-term success written all over it.
Miami will pile up the injuries and fatigue, but it could also have them looking sluggish coming into the playoffs. However, this is a team with plenty of options based off talent.
If anything, the Heat must work on setting up a fluent half court set. Set picks, spread the floor and continue to attack the basket while drawing fouls. Miami can push the pace here or there, but forcing the issue only creates more liabilities in the end.
Mix it up. Call plays for other players. Let Bosh create plays around the free-throw line.
Plenty of options.
However, it's still early in the season so look for Miami to work on this. Getting back to a defensive mindset will help the South Beach club get back to the same formula that made them successful last season.
Push the pace off turnovers and other opportunities that present themselves, but don't live and die off the fast break.
Miami is the best team in the NBA when at full force, but they aren't looking strong as of late. They must regain their composure with a solid San Antonio team coming into town.
Focus for now, but also keep health in mind going forward. The Heat cannot risk losing Wade or James for a significant time frame, but this offense isn't helping their case.
They are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. However, they are not letting it show by fundamental defense. Slowing things down and pushing at the right time is the perfect idea for Miami to win a championship in the 2011-12 season.
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