Miami Heat Home Stretch: Five Things Needed Before Playoff Time

Danny DolphinAnalyst IFebruary 10, 2011

With just 30 games remaining, the Heat’s most exciting NBA regular season to date is nearing the final stretch.

It’s amazing how time flies when your team is relevant. Miami hasn’t had a relevant sports team since 2006, when the Heat brought home their first ever NBA Championship.

Here are five things I’d like to see happen over the course of the final 30 games.


1. Arroyo in, Chalmers out

Of course, I write this right before Chalmers has one of his better games last night. I’m going to assume it was an aberration.

Let’s take a look at what each player brings to the table. Keep in mind the two most important skills Miami needs from the point guard position is defense and shooting.

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade dominate the ball, as they should.

First off, they are both average defensively, in fact a case can be made that Chalmers is below average because of his consistent failure to determine what’s considered a good steal attempt. Too often, he leaves Miami’s interior defense vulnerable after wrongfully gambling for a steal.

As far as shooting is concerned, Arroyo is a better three-point shooter (44% to Chalmer’s 35%), mid-range shooter and he shoots much better overall from the field (46% to Chalmer’s 39%).

Both are good free throw shooters, with Chalmers (94%) surpassing Arroyo (80%) in this area.

Chalmers also turns the ball over at a higher rate and has more “what were you thinking” moments than Charlie Sheen.

So, why is Chalmers in the rotation while Arroyo is riding pine? Who the heck knows, but come playoff time, coach Erik Spoelstra isn’t going to put up with Chalmers’ inconsistent output, especially if he’s not shooting the ball well.

Arroyo may not be a star by any means, but he provides the safer, more consistent option at a position where Miami can’t afford to have seesaw production.

Arroyo is never going to hurt the team while Chalmers has proven otherwise.


2. Haslem’s return

The expected return for Udonis Haslem is late march, early April. As I said months ago when Udonis was injured, never count this man out—he’s a fighter.

The Heat won’t have to suffer growing pains reincorporating him into the lineup like they did with Mike Miller. Udonis isn’t a player who needs offense run through him. You can simply plug in his toughness, defense and mid-range jumper and go from there.

It will be a seamless transition and he will likely steal some minutes from Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Juwan Howard and a maybe a few from Chris Bosh, as they need that ankle as close to full strength as possible for the playoffs.

3. Recall Dexter Pittman and activate him

Is he going to play major minutes in the playoffs for this contender? Nope.

However, the Heat blow teams out every other night. Why not activate him against  inferior opponents and get him some tread against NBA competition.

Why not build for the future while maintaining the present?

It will pay dividends down the line when Ilgauskas, Howard, and the rest of the Heat’s prehistoric big men expire.


4. Continue to play team ball

The Heat are thriving right now because they’re getting consistent production of late from guys not named Wade, Bosh or James.

The Heat’s shooters including Eddie House, Mike Miller and James Jones are playing at a high level. Joel Anthony is providing a consistent defensive force on the block.

For the Heat to have a prayer against the Celtics in a series, they need to thrive as a team, as Boston has done.


5. Take out the best

Over the final 30 games, Miami plays Boston twice, San Antonio twice and Chicago twice.

I’d like to see them at least beat each of those teams once.

Even if they went 0-6 against those opponents, it doesn’t mean much, as individual regular season match-ups don’t dictate championships. However, it would be a nice confidence boost for when/if they play any of those teams in the playoffs.

The first of those tests is this Sunday at Boston.

Expect some elbows to be thrown.


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