Remember when the Miami Heat used to be bad at that whole scoring in late-game situations aspect part of the game?
Me, neither. Because now the Heat are the league's top team in those situations, equipped with a certain MVP who is plus-127 in clutch situations, defined by 82games.com as "4th quarter or overtime, less than five minutes left, neither team ahead by five or more points".
Over the course of this historic season, which has the Heat four wins away from setting the franchise mark for wins in a season, the Heat have put out some of the top lineups in the NBA, including a specific clutch lineup that has Miami dominating on both sides of the floor.
This lineup, featuring Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen, Shane Battier, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh, has played over 128 minutes together and is scoring 1.17 points per possession on offense, while yielding only 0.97 PPP on defense, according to 82games.com.
Out of the 20 top Heat lineups, it is the third most efficient in terms of points per possession given up on defense. The only lineups that top that are a defensive-minded lineup that features Chalmers, Wade, Battier, James, and Udonis Haslem, as well as one that is only giving up 0.89 PPP, but has only played 52 minutes together.
It doesn't have everything to do with the lineup. The defense ramps up in those final minutes. They're in a defensive system that requires effort to work, since it's a system that relies heavily on quick rotations and double-teams.
If there isn't effort being put out by each player on the floor, a rotation is missed and the defense collapses. However, when the Heat are putting heavy pressure on the ball-handler and keeping the offense beyond the perimeter, Miami is the best team in the league by miles.
And that's why the Heat are 58-16 and have a good shot at being the team with home-court through the playoffs.
Through this five-man core, Miami has established themselves as one of the toughest teams to stop on offense and one of the most stingy to score on defense.