The ongoing narrative of the Big Three carrying the Miami Heat is a bit tired and lazy at this point. Yes, LeBron James is having a career year. And yes, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are playing as well as they have at any point over the past two-plus seasons. But there's far more to the success of the Miami Heat than the three men who decided to join forces in the summer of 2010.
As talented as James, Wade and Bosh are, they wouldn't have been able to clinch a playoff spot eight days into March without a strong supporting cast behind them. The contributions of Ray Allen, Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier and others are far too important to be summarily glossed over. And once you take a peek behind the curtain, it's clear that there are quite a few hidden factors behind the Heat's rise this year.
There haven't been too many comebacks by Heat opponents this year: Miami is allowing just 46.0 second-half points per game in 2012-13, tied for the fifth-best mark in the league. Keep in mind that number includes games in which Miami benched its stars early after putting the game away long before the final buzzer.
That figure alone is proof that Heat coach Erik Spoelstra makes the right adjustments at halftime while his charges make it a point to ratchet up the defensive intensity over the final two periods. And when the Heat are winning at the end of games, it usually means lights out for the other team: In 28 contests this season, Miami has led throughout the entire fourth quarter.
The Heat's woes on the glass this season have been blown completely out of proportion. Miami may be the worst team in the NBA when it comes to rebounding the basketball, but their opponents are grabbing just 40.0 boards per game, the fourth-lowest mark in the league.
Miami, just like any other team, would benefit from winning the battle on the boards more often. That said, the Heat have been outrebounded by the opposing team 31 times during the 2012-13 campaign, and they've won 23 of those games.
The recent addition of Chris Andersen will help Miami stay competitive in the paint, and as long as the Heat don't get completely outworked on the glass, they'll be able to hang with just about anyone.
Miami's Big Three may all have career-best shooting percentages, but thanks to some expert marksmanship—the Heat as a team are shooting nearly 39 percent for the year from three-point range—they also boast a league-best effective field-goal percentage of 54.7 percent.
It's no mystery that teams that shoot well win basketball games, and Miami is no exception to the rule. The Heat have won 29 out of the 31 games in which they've shot 50 percent or better from the field, and are 35-2 in games where they've scored 100 points or more.
It also helps that the Heat get a lot of clean looks at the basket. Miami allows just 3.3 opponent blocks per game, by far the lowest mark in the NBA.
Any team in the league that doesn't have a superstar can be competitive with any other team if they win the turnover battle on a given night. Add in three All-Star-caliber players, and you have the perfect recipe for success.
The Miami Heat are fourth in the NBA in turnovers per game with 13.6 per contest. Simply put, they don't give their opponents many chances at easy buckets, and they don't end many of their own possessions with ill-advised mistakes.
That combined with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.67-to-1 (third-best in the NBA), means that Miami does a fantastic job of not beating themselves. If you want to take down the Heat, it's a victory that has to be earned, because it's not freely given. The proof is in the numbers: Miami is 35-4 this season when they turn the ball over fewer times than their opponent.
James, Wade and Bosh have accounted for 63 percent of the team's points this year, but
the Heat—just like every other team in the NBA—are still reliant on their bench to have a strong showing every night.
Ray Allen, Shane Battier and the emerging Norris Cole have been crucial elements of the Miami attack this season, with Allen and Battier each knocking down more than 100 three-pointers. And when their respective shots are on, it usually leads to good things down in South Beach: The Heat are 19-1 when their bench outscores the opposing team's reserve unit.