Opening night in the NBA is tomorrow, showcasing the possible changing of the guard between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat. The Old Big Three meets the New Big Three.
With all the talk and hype coming into the season about the Miami Heat potentially ripping through the regular season, leaving a path of destruction in their wake, opposing teams will have to become creative in order to win against the NBA’s new Dream Team.
Miami’s loss of Mike Miller (thumb, January return) is a real shot in the arm to the Heat, who were going to rely on Miller to be the motor oil that kept the well oiled machine in top form. His three-point shooting, passing skills and size will surely be missed as the Heat work to solidify their chemistry with one another.
Enter a combination of James Jones, Eddie House, Mario Chalmers, Carlos Arroyo and newly-acquired Jerry Stackhouse to the mix. None of those names stirs up and fear, already allowing teams to gain more confidence in their defensive presence.
But still there are LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to think about, so how else does a team shut down the Heat from a defensive standpoint and keep themselves in the game? There are a few ways:
If there’s one negative you can find in the game of LeBron and D-Wade at the same time, it’s their jump shooting.
LeBron had an effective field goal percentage (see below) of only .436 last season, while Wade lagged behind at a meager .393.
These are less than impressive numbers if you compare them against the Celtic’s outside threats of Paul Pierce (.488) and Ray Allen (.514).
Forcing the duo of Wade and James to shoot more, outside of the key, greatly improves the probability for opponents to maintain a close game.
EFG% = (FG + 0.5 * 3P)/FGA
Chris Bosh may have averaged 10.8 rebounds per game last season, but the numbers are slightly inflated considering the Toronto Raptors finished 23rd in the league in boards, and Toronto lacked another interior standout.
Starting center Joel Anthony puts zero fear into any opposing big men looking to clean up on the glass, but Udonis Haslem will need to be contained.
Haslem is an quality rebounder, underrated on the offensive glass, and easy to overlook which could lead to him becoming an even greater force on the boards.
Controlling the glass is a universal state of mind for defenses, but it means so much more considering that the Heat will more than likely be able to capitalize if and when second-chance points arise.
The whole purpose of the 2010-11 Miami Heat was to create one of the best NBA teams of all-time. Putting the "I" back in team would be a deceptively useful tactic for defending Miami.
Additionally, if defenses can maintain the tempo of the game against the Heat, they stand a better chance at success.
Don’t let James, Bosh and Wade move away from the ball or work the rock around. Put them into a situation where they have to rely solely on themselves to score points, thereby limiting the team’s overall efficiency.
Opposing defenses are going to have to mix things up against the Heat this season.
You cannot go out onto the court with the same set every time up and down the floor if you expect to win games.
Game-planning and coaching will become a large factor against the Heat, as teams need to spend more trying adding fresh looks and new wrinkles.