Miami Heat's Biggest Strengths and Weaknesses

Sam RichmondCorrespondent IApril 3, 2013

Miami Heat's Biggest Strengths and Weaknesses

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    The Miami Heat have a record of 58-16 and are almost certainly going to finish with the NBA's best record at the end of the 2012-13 season. So, needless to say, this team has plenty of strengths.

    These are strengths that greatly outweigh their weaknesses. However, make no mistake, the Heat absolutely do have weaknesses.

    The Heat are such a talented and smart team that even with their issues in some areas, they are still the heavy championship favorite. On top of that, a few of these problems can be corrected before the postseason.

    However, if the Heat are to leave the postseason without a title, be sure to check out the series stats and look at how the Heat fared in the weakness-areas mentioned.

    At the same time, the strengths in this piece will show you how the Heat can win the title, which at this point seems likelier than an early exit.

Strength: Dynamic Offense

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    The Heat’s offense is absolutely lethal, as it scores more points per 100 possessions than any other offense.

    The reason is because Miami converts supremely efficiently from just about everywhere on the court.

    They have two of the game’s best finishers at the rim in LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, who both convert north of 74 percent of their attempts at the rim, according to Hoopdata.

    Considering James and Wade are by far the two biggest shot-takers on the Heat, Miami as a team has shot an absurd 49.7 percent from the field (best in the league).

    The team also has elite long-distance shooters.

    The Heat have five players who shoot above 40 percent from the three-point line with Shane Battier leading the way at 42.9 percent. Impressively, Miami ranks second in the league in three-point shooting percentage at 39.4 percent.  

    Miami also has a player like Chris Bosh with a deadly mid-range shot. Bosh shoots better than any player in the league (minimum of one make per game) from 16-23 feet away from the basket, according to Hoopdata.

    With this ability and having so many scorers who can convert from a variety of areas, Miami is essentially unguardable. 

Weakness: Rebounding

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    By design, the Heat's biggest weakness is rebounding. 

    The team was put together with not much size inside, which has led to Miami getting destroyed on the glass.

    The Heat rank highly in almost every statistical category. In rebounds, though, the Heat's -2.1 per game rebound differential ranks 24th in the league.

    With its supreme talent, the Heat have been able to overcome this weakness often, winning games in which they've been out-rebounded by more than 20 on multiple occasions.

    However, it certainly has cost Miami at times against the league's better teams, such as in the Heat's two losses to the Chicago Bulls.

    At this point, with the roster the way it is, this problem is for the most part not fixable. And unfortunately, more than any other weakness, the battle on the glass can seriously hinder the Heat's title chances.

Strength: Forcing Turnovers

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    Miami plays a ferocious style of defense that involves swarming ball-handlers and bringing intense pressure at all times.

    Not only do they have athletic freaks capable of staying with anyone, such as Wade and James, but they also have some of the smarter defenders in the league, once again including Wade and James as well as Shane Battier.

    For the season, the Heat have forced the sixth-most turnovers in the league. But even that's a little deceiving of how stingy the Heat's defense is now.

    It's not much of a secret that Miami didn't give maximum effort at the start of the season fresh off last year's title. But as the playoffs have gotten closer and closer, Miami has ratcheted up the intensity.

    It should come as no surprise that the Heat forced 15.8 turnovers per game in February and 15.9 in March, which is a better mark than the Los Angeles Clippers league-best average of 15.7 turnovers forced per contest for the season.

    For the rest of the NBA, the scary part of all of this is that this defense will only bring more pressure once the postseason begins. 

Weakness: Point Guard

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    While Mario Chalmers, the Heat's starter at the position, has certainly picked up his game this season, point guard still represents the Heat's worst position.

    Again, give Chalmers credit—he's cut down on his turnovers (.7 fewer per game than last season) and he's one of the five Miami players to be shooting above 40 percent from beyond the arc.

    However, he's not a great distributor and still occasionally makes a mistake that will leave you scratching your head. His assist to turnover ratio is 2.24, which ranks 34th for just point guards.

    But more than Chalmers, the real reason Miami's point guards get a low mark is because of 'Rio's backup, Norris Cole.

    Cole brings energy and great on-ball defense, but offensively he's for the most part abysmal. Cole isn't a very good shooter (32.9 percent on 3P), an atrocious distributor and prone to turnovers.

    Cole doesn't qualify on this leaderboard. But just to put his offensive troubles in perspective, the worst assist-to-turnover ratio for a qualifying point guard is 2.18 and Cole's is 1.65. 

    On top of that, Cole ranks 74 out of 77 qualifying point guards in PER.

    Still, when benches shorten in the postseason, Cole will likely see very few minutes.  

    Also, the Heat have non-point guards who are elite ball handlers such as James and Wade, so this issue certainly isn't as bad as it could be.

Strength: Ball Movement

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    As I mentioned earlier as a strength, the Heat can score well from everywhere on the court.

    What's responsible for that more than strictly just the players' shooting and finishing ability is that Miami moves the ball better than anyone is the league. This in turn leads to open shots.

    The main catalyst in this is James.

    Rightfully so, LeBron commands a great deal of defensive attention.

    Whether James is posting up or driving, extra defenders are required, which allows him, such an instinctive passer, to pass to an open man for an easy shot, often a three-pointer.

    Also, even when that Heat player doesn't shoot, James usually has broken down the defense so well that the recipient of James' pass is able to find a better look for another player, leading to a hockey assist for LeBron. 

    But the Heat's great movement is more than just when the ball goes through James. As Zach Lowe of Grantland pointed out in a recent piece, whether it's a go-to-play or a standard offensive possession, the Heat always move the ball exceptionally well.

    Better than every other team in the NBA, Miami doesn't settle for shots. The Heat's offense works and works to find the best shot they can get on every trip down the floor.  

Weakness: Playing Down to Competition

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    As their record indicates, the Heat are the best team in the NBA, which makes it so perplexing that the Heat have played really close games and faced huge deficits against the league's worst teams this season.

    During Miami's 27-game winning streak, the Heat faced double-digit deficits against teams such as the Charlotte Bobcats, Detroit Pistons and Cleveland Cavaliers

    In Miami's three victories against the Cavs this season, the Heat have won by a combined nine points. In the Heat's two games against the Orlando Magic that Nikola Vucevic played in, Miami won one by a point and the other by two points.

    Now, it does say something that Miami won all of the close games I've mentioned here. However, with the Heat's talent, there's little reason for these games to be close.

    While this is a weakness for the Heat, it's mostly a regular season weakness. Even in the first round against a greatly inferior opponent, the Heat are very unlikely to play these type of games in which they start out slow and need a huge comeback to win.

    Going even further, there is no way Miami is not going to start out a playoff games against the Indiana Pacers or New York Knicks without giving it maximum effort. The Heat are too hungry to repeat for that.

    However, this has been a season-long issue against poor teams  and it's something the Heat should address in the future.

    For more Heat talk and other sports news follow me on Twitter @srichmond93.