Under-the-Radar Miami Heat Are More Dangerous Than Ever

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistNovember 14, 2012

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 12:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat (L) waits alongside James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center on November 12, 2012 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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Somehow the Miami Heat continue to bolster what’s already the NBA’s most talented roster in years, and somehow the defending champs manage to do all of this under the radar.

Of course, anytime the Los Angeles Lakers can add players the caliber of Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Antawn Jamison the hoop world will take notice.

And when that star-studded roster stumbles to a 1-4 start, the basketball media erupt. When that 1-4 record costs a coach (Mike Brown) his job, the talk radio shows and the blogosphere follow suit.

But when the Lakers opted to sign Mike D'Antoni instead of Phil Jackson, well lets just say it's a surprise that Twitter is still working.

In 2011-12, Jeremy Lin’s emergence dominated the collective attention of the hoops world and Heat coach Erick Spoelstra was able to use this relative anonymity to focus on the development of his positionless basketball.

Without the unrelenting pressure to post a historically impressive regular season record, Spoelstra had the opportunity to mix-and-match his lineups during the regular season.

The end result of Spoelstra’s makeshift rotations was a Miami Heat team well positioned to steamroll its postseason competition, which it largely did en route to the organization’s second NBA championship.

Despite racing out to a 6-2 start, the Heat continue to avoid the front page in 2012-13.

Between the All-Star additions and coaching change in Los Angeles, the blistering start of the New York Knicks and the return of professional sports in Brooklyn, Miami and its franchise megastar, LeBron James, have become NBA afterthoughts.

Surely Spoelstra would welcome this lack of attention, but I’d be remiss to not point out just how impressive his team has looked.

His returning trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, along with newcomers Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, have all connected on at least 48.9 percent of their field-goal attempts. Of the 10 players that have appeared in at least seven of the team’s games, only Wade averages more than two turnovers (2.1).

The league’s highest scoring offense (105.5 points per game) also paces its peers in field-goal percentage (49.7).

And as for that megastar, James has been incredible.

With an increasingly effective post game, James is on pace to enjoy his best shooting performance from the field (55.0). His selective three-point trigger has allowed the career 33.2 percent three-point shooter to convert on 52.0 percent of his perimeter attempts.

James discussed the importance of getting back to his enjoyment of basketball with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols prior to the beginning of last season.

If James can perform at the level he showed in 2011-12 simply by ignoring the external pressures to perform, imagine where his game could go now that those outside voices have simply stopped talking.

But last season (like countless years before it) showed that in order for Miami to win a championship, it’ll take contributions from a slew of players.

This is where the lack of focus in South Florida could be dangerous for the rest of the league.

Miami’s roster, while extremely talented, has its flaws.

Its lack of an imposing interior presence has left it with a negative rebounding differential (-0.62) and the league’s 10th-fewest blocks per game (4.88).

It has also contributed to it allowing a very uncharacteristic 100.25 points per game (the league’s seventh-highest average).

Spoelstra will need to use this carefree regular season approach to find the right lineup combinations necessary for a Heat title defense.