5 Simple Steps to Fix the Miami Heat
Despite owning the Eastern Conference's best record at 26-12, the Miami Heat have had a heap of criticism thrown their way this season.
From their inability to rebound to their lackluster defensive efforts, the Heat have had far from a perfect title defense in 2012-2013.
Still, Miami boasts arguably the best trio of superstars in the league and has chemistry and experience on its side.
The Heat have plenty of time to fix their issues before the playoffs, and it shouldn't be difficult given the talent of their personnel.
All stats are accurate as of January 20, 2013.
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Play Udonis Haslem More
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Udonis Haslem is averaging a career low in playing time (19:23 minutes per game) this season despite being reinserted into the starting lineup back in December.
Outside of LeBron James, Haslem is the Miami Heat's best rebounder (yes, I'm saying he's a better overall rebounder than Chris Bosh), but he tends to get most of his minutes in the first and third quarters.
Coach Erik Spoelstra plays Haslem sparingly in the fourth quarter, and the Heat's co-captain finds himself on the bench for key stretches of the game.
However, Haslem averages 10 boards a contest per 36 minutes, according to Basketball Reference, which would give him the best rebounding numbers on the team.
Haslem may be relatively small, but he out-hustles and out-grinds many of his opponents, ensuring that he will win the battle on the boards.
When Haslem plays 23 minutes or more this season, he has averaged 8.3 rebounds per, which is nearly three more boards per contest than his current season average.
Miami's record when Haslem plays 23 minutes or more?
Let the Three-Point Ball Fly More
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The Miami Heat are an absolutely lethal team when they spread the ball around the floor and get their perimeter shooters open looks.
With LeBron James and Dwyane Wade's ability to penetrate and have opposing defenses collapse on them, the Heat's shooters are usually left wide open for smart basketball shots.
The drive and kick-out method has translated into quite a lot of success for Miami this season.
The Heat hold the third best three-point shooting percentage in the league at 38.7 percent and are No. 6 in the NBA in three-point shots made.
What's even more telling is that the Heat are 19-7 this year when they attempt 20 or more three-point field goals.
While it's not always smart to "live or die" by the three ball, the Heat have plenty of other weapons besides shooters that allow them to be bailed out by the long ball on occasion.
Remember, the Heat are blessed to have the No. 1 (Ray Allen), No. 9 (Rashard Lewis) and No. 23 (Mike Miller) best three-point shooters in NBA history, according to NBA.com.
Clamp Down on Defense
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After starting out the season in the bottom third of defensive efficiency and scoring defense, the Miami Heat have found a way to claw back into the top half of the league in defense.
At 96.6 points allowed per game, the Heat rank No. 12 in scoring defense and allow 101.4 points per 100 possessions, ranking them No. 11 in defensive efficiency.
They've been able to ascend in the defensive rankings by keeping 16 out of their last 21 opponents under 100 points.
While clamping down on D might seem like an obvious fix, it's deeper than just trying hard or staying engaged.
The Heat need to stay fully focused on one of Erik Spoelstra's buzz words—identity—on the defensive end.
That mean's doing what they do best—the Heat's vaunted pick-and-roll defense, which even apparently has Kobe Bryant dropping praise.
The Heat make up for their lack of size by effectively disabling the opposing point guard's ability to get the ball inside to the big men by having suffocating perimeter defense and great help defense if necessary.
When Miami stays fully committed to their half-court defensive identity, they are a very tough team to score on.
See How the Birdman Works out
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As reported by Yahoo Sports, the Miami Heat have signed center Chris Andersen to a 10-day contract.
Will Andersen fix all of the Heat's rebounding woes?
No, but he will certainly help and serve as a quick fix.
The Birdman is known for hustle, energy, defense and rebounding—all things the Heat could use a little more of currently.
Andersen is a very low risk-high reward deal. The former Nuggets big man is eager to get back on the court and is surely thrilled by the opportunity to play with a contender.
Coach Spoelstra is going to have to figure out how to work him into the rotation, but he can certainly shore up some of the Heat's rebounding problems if played properly.
The Heat have a very limited second unit when it comes to rebounders, and Andersen can be the guy that fills that role.
More Joel Anthony
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With Chris Andersen on board, the Miami Heat are going to be forced to cut someone's minutes.
My guess is that it will be Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony during the trial period.
However, Anderson's tenure on the Heat is completely up in the air—10 days might be all the Birdman gets in Miami.
With that being said, the Heat cannot forget about Joel Anthony, and what the undersized big man has done for Miami's defense since being reinserted into the rotation.
Anthony didn't sniff his first real minutes of the season until December 6 when he received just over 13 minutes off the bench, his first double-digit minutes of the season.
Since then, he's played 16 games in which he's racked up at least 10 minutes of PT.
And in 13 of those 16 games, the Heat have held opponents under 100 points.
The Heat allowed 100 points or more in 10 of their first 16 games of the season. Joel's average playing time during that span?
3.5 minutes per contest.
It's safe to say "The Warden" has given a significant boost to the Heat's defense.