Breaking Down the Best Crunch-Time Lineup for Miami Heat

Brendan Bowers@@BowersCLEContributor IIMarch 23, 2013

The best crunch-time lineup for the Miami Heat is a positionless unit that does not include a traditional point guard, power forward or center.

It is also a group that is not overly concerned with rebounding the basketball. 

On Wednesday, for example, the Cleveland Cavaliers out-rebounded the Heat 27-12 in the first half. Led by a front line of Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller, Cleveland went on to collect 42 rebounds on the night as compared to 34 from Miami.

Despite that, the Heat still managed to erase a 27-point deficit and make enough plays in the clutch to win 98-95. They followed that performance up on Friday by beating the Detroit Pistons 103-89 while being out-rebounded 47-33.

During the 2012-13 campaign in total—even while riding a 25-game winning streak into the weekend—Miami's non-conventional lineup ranks last in the NBA overall at 38.3 rebounds per game.

But when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are all posting career-high field-goal percentages at the same time, rebounding and traditional positions become less concerning.  

In the clutch specifically—while either ahead or behind by five points or less—the Heat's positionless lineup is leading the league in field-goal percentage at 49.1.

This crunch-time success is made possible by a collective effort from James, Wade, Bosh, Ray Allen and Shane Battier, while leaving two of the Heat's most productive rebounders on the sidelines (Mario Chalmers, Udonis Haslem). 


LeBron James Continues to Lead the Heat in Crunch Time

LeBron James has played 160 clutch minutes for the Miami Heat in 2012-13.

During that time he's totaled 130 points on 44.2 percent shooting, according to—a higher rate than the 40.2 percent that Kevin Durant has used to lead the league in crunch-time scoring.

In place of a traditional point guard, the Heat are at their best when James is assuming the ball-handling duties down the stretch.

The 50 assists that James has dished out in crunch time lead the league in that category, and his teammates have become only more dangerous as a result. 


If It's Not James on the Attack, It's Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade provides an elite scoring option alongside James that makes the Heat impossible to defend at the point of attack.

If defenses shift their alignment to stopping James on the drive, they only enable Wade to become that much more effective in crunch time.

The 80 points that Wade has scored in the clutch this season rank 19th in the league overall.

More importantly, however, Wade has also knocked down 50 percent of the 60 field goals he's attempted in the clutch—a number that exceeds his team's league-best crunch-time percentage of 49.1.


Spotting Ray Allen Up on the Three-Point Line Adds a Deadly Dynamic in Crunch Time

Ray Allen has connected on a series of clutch three-pointers like this one against the San Antonio Spurs ever since joining the Miami Heat. 

While scoring 75 points on 48.9 percent shooting in the clutch overall, Allen has made 14 three-pointers in crunch time this season specifically. 

With the attention paid to James and Wade—along with Chris Bosh—defenses have no choice but to leave Allen more open than he has ever been in his career.

His ability to consistently make teams pay for this decision is why it is critical that Allen remains on the floor in crunch time.


Chris Bosh is a Third Option Who is Shooting Nearly 80 Percent in the Clutch

The extremely efficient work that Chris Bosh is putting in during the 2012-13 campaign has been drastically overlooked. 

In addition to the career-best field-goal percentage of 54 he's posted on the year, Bosh has elevated his game to a staggering 78.8 percent shooting in crunch time.

He's converted only four less shots than the 50-percent-shooting Wade (26) on 27 less attempts (33). Along with the 73 points he's scored in total, Bosh has also collected 38 rebounds.

Positioned in the painted area—with James and Wade probing the defense as Allen is flanked on the perimeter—Bosh's near-perfect production will continue to help Miami's crunch-time lineup much more than people realize in the postseason. 


Shane Battier Provides an Optimal Fit for Miami's Best Crunch-Time Lineup

Shane Battier is the best fifth option for the Miami Heat to have on the floor in crunch time.

His versatility as a defender, rebounder and spot-up shooter is why Battier wins out on this spot over the better rebounding Udonis Haslem or Chris Andersen.

With Wade and James assuming the primary ball-handling duties down the stretch, this also provides less need for Mario Chalmers.

Thus far, Battier has played more crunch-time minutes than any Heat player outside of the four mentioned above in 2012-13. For the Heat to have their best chance in the clutch moving forward, Battier's presence is essential.

Though he's only scored 15 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out three assists in 80 clutch minutes, the Heat are a plus-86 with Battier on the floor in crunch time.


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