For the Miami Heat, the Camp Focus Is Defense First
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Paradise Island, Bahamas — The Miami Heat held six practices in four days on makeshift courts in a Bahamas ballroom.
The majority of that work was on the defensive end of those floors.
"We've really focused on our defense, finishing our defense, the toughness plays in the paint, blocking out, group rebounding," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "I would probably say 70 percent of our camp was defense, other than player development."
Spoelstra acknowledged that the percentage makes him "a little uneasy," and that he'll zero in on offense more next week after the Heat's Sunday scrimmage and Monday preseason opener.
Still, it makes sense.
For all of the progress that Miami made with its offensive efficiency last season—finishing first in the NBA in field-goal percentage—it took some time to start stopping people.
By the end of the season, and especially during its 27-game winning streak, it did manage to become a bit stingier. Miami finished the season fifth in points per game against, sixth in field-goal percentage against and ninth in defensive rating.
"We focused a little bit more last year and the year before on offense, because in 2010 our offensive package wasn't as open as we would have liked it to be," Dwyane Wade said. "We were able to be a high-scoring [team]. Now we want to put it all together."
This isn't about learning new principles. Those have stayed roughly the same, not just since last season, but since Pat Riley arrived in 1994, and certainly since Wade and Udonis Haslem were rookies in 2003-04.
"Probably will never change," Wade said. "We've made adjustments to personnel, but pretty much what we do is what we do."
All of the top nine players, plus Rashard Lewis, James Jones, Joel Anthony and the returning Michael Beasley, are exceedingly familiar with what that is.
Keep a foot in the paint.
Scramble out to shooters.
But stay, collectively, on a string.
"Trust," LeBron James said. "We didn't trust each other defensively last year at the beginning of the season. It's kind of strange to say that, but we didn't. We hit a switch at some point, we knew that we could trust each other defensively. Hopefully, we don't have to hit that switch. Hopefully, it's already turned on when the season starts."
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