Miami Heat: Five Things We Know After Two Games
The big three era got off to a rough start Tuesday night in Boston. Rajon Rondo gashed the Heat defense (look familiar LeBron) en route to a 17-assist night. On the other end of the floor, LeBron blew up for 31 points but the rest of this three man band struggled. It was clear that the team was not perfectly attuned to one another. The result? An opening night loss.
On Wednesday, the Heat looked a little better against an inferior opponent. Wade imposed his will and scored 30 while Bosh and LeBron chipped in 15 and 16 respectively. The other big scorer was James Jones, who hit six of his nine three point attempts.
Despite staying close to Boston, and opening up a 28-point lead over the 76ers before winning by 10, the Heat have yet to truly impress.
Let's look at five things that we've noticed about the Miami Heat through two games.
Interior Defense: It Will Be an Issue
This particular flaw hasn't really been exposed in the first two games, but there have been hints that it will be a problem. Despite only giving up 12 points to opposing 76ers power forward Elton Brand, and a combined 32 to Shaq, KG and Big Baby, its clear that size is a problem.
In an abbreviated 18-minute appearance, an aging Shaq scored nine points and had seven rebounds. If you look at that kind of efficiency for 40 minutes the Heat will be giving up a 20-10 scoring and rebounding night consistently. A guy like Dwight Howard (who they play tonight) could be dominant inside.
Thankfully for the Heat, most of the teams in the Eastern conference do not have a dominant big man. Howard, Bogut, Boston's big-man by committee and a healthy Carlos Boozer are probably the only players capable of really exploiting this weakness. Unfortunately, all of those guys play on likely playoff teams (maybe not Bogut).
This weakness won't kill the Heat early in the season, but it certainly could doom them come playoff time. If they want to reach the Finals, they'll have to contain interior scoring and clean the defensive glass.
Bosh Needs to Get Involved
Last year's ninth leading scorer has only put up 23 points in two games. This can't all be blamed on offensive inefficiency, Bosh is shooting 39 percent after going 9-23 from the floor, a full 10 percentage points lower than his career average.
He is, however, a distant third on the team in shot attempts behind Wade and James and needs to be more heavily involved in the offense. Bosh's main weapon is his ability to face up and hit mid-range shots. The Heat need to use him more effectively on the "pick and pop" and try to get him the ball at the elbow. If he can get the ball there, he can pass or score, and is more efficient than playing in the low block.
James and Wade, on the "pick and pop" need to move the ball more quickly. James, in particular, tends to take a few seconds off the pick to make a decision. In Cleveland, that worked, but in Miami, ball movement will be key. If they can swing the ball and find Bosh open, they can really maximize the potential of their stars.
Cut Down on The Turnovers
Though Miami played a defensive stalwart in their opener, their turnover problems persisted in the second game against the 76ers. The Heat have turned the ball over 33 times and LeBron James has committed 17 of these.
First of all, this is part of the process. They have yet to develop enough chemistry to avoid making errant passes. But, in the first two games, it looks like these players, especially James, is rushing things.
"Be quick, but don't hurry"
John Wooden's famous quote certainly applies to this Heat team. If they are able to get out into transition, or take shots early in the clock, they can speed the game up to a tempo of their liking. Neither James nor Wade are great jump-shooters and it's generally easier to get into the paint before a defense is set. The Heat need to look at trying to produce offense in the the first 10 seconds of the shot clock.
If they get moving in transition, and on the secondary break, defending teams will have difficultly locating both Wade and James, not to mention shooters on the outside. Once Mike Miller gets back, and if James Jones can become a consistent shooter, the Heat will be able to hit these guys trailing the break for three-pointers.
The most encouraging thing about the Heat's start is their defensive efficiency. The Heat have only given up 175 points on 194 possessions. If they were able to keep up that level of defensive efficiency they would likely be one of the top defensive teams in the league.
James and Wade can make their lives easier by using their length and speed to play passing lanes, which they've done so far. They can also mask their lack of size on the interior by making entry passes more difficult.
Everyone expects the offense to come around, but in the meantime, hustle and effort on the defensive end can help this team notch wins.
The Chemistry Isn't There Yet
The Heat are only averaging 15 assists after their first two games of the season. Now, admittedly, they played the Celtics who were able to stifle them offensively. That said, you'd expect a team with the kind of offensive horsepower the Heat can mobilize to manage more assists.
Especially with an unselfish player like LeBron. In Cleveland, everyone assumed that he was capable of averaging double-digit assist numbers if his teammates could just knock down shots. Now he has the All-Star teammates he lacked, but his assists numbers are low.
Wade and James are not yet on the same page. A play in the first half of the Celtics-Heat game was emblematic of their lack of chemistry. James was driving in transition with Wade on the wing. Wade cut hard to the basket as a pass was fired behind him. James expected Wade to stay on the wing while Wade went to cut.
These guys only played together for a few minutes in the preseason, so the lack of chemistry is to be expected. Additionally, these guys are having to fundamentally alter their games. For the past several years, Bosh, Wade, and James have always been the go-to-guy. Learning to step back from time to time is not easy and will take a little while. Clearly, however, they are committed to it, otherwise they wouldn't have come together to play.
LeBron Needs a Post Game
I'm an unapologetic LeBron supporter. I love his game and watching him play. He does, however, need to develop a post game.
He does go into the post from time to time, but usually takes a few powerful dribbles to create space and then takes a contested shot. He doesn't have the finesse post game of a guy like Kobe. To really make himself an unstoppable scorer, LeBron should rely less on his strength in the post, and more on moves.
If he can develop a nice repertoire of fade-aways and turn-around jump shots to complement his power moves, he will be virtually unguardable.
This would pay huge dividends for his teammates as well. Because of his size, and (I'm assuming) effectiveness, teams would be forced to double. His vision would allow him to pass out of double-teams to find open shooters or slashers. Wade, Bosh, and Mike Miller would be the primary beneficiaries of James post-game.