It was known that this would be issue, but it wasn’t thought it would be this big of an issue.
That is what the Miami Heat must be thinking right now as they look at the team’s rebounding statistics. Miami currently ranks last in total rebounds and 29th in rebounds per game in the NBA. The team has been able to remain atop the Eastern Conference despite this, but the last few games have shone a bright light to this flaw that can’t be ignored.
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra decided in training camp to stick with the undersized lineup that won the NBA Finals and dubbed it ‘positionless’ basketball. Spoelstra did this knowing that in exchange he would sacrifice some rebounding but believed in the benefits enough to implement the strategy. That has allowed Miami to be more fast paced but it has also changed the way most of the ‘Big 3’ have had to play this season. LeBron James is the Heat’s leading rebounder, but has been playing long minutes recently in order for the team to win. Chris Bosh shifted to the center position and has played well, yet he is currently having the worst rebounding year of his career since his rookie season.
The rebounding woes are not just limited to the ‘Big 3’ for Miami. The majority of the other big men on the roster have not done their part on the boards either. Josh Harrelson was brought in to add size, but has spent most of the season on the inactive list. Rashard Lewis was brought in for offense but did make attempts to play inside, however his lack of defensive play has taken him out of the rotation. The development of Dexter Pittman, who the Heat considered their center of the future, has been so slow that the team has sent him back down to the D-League. Udonis Haslem has been put in the starting lineup to help with rebounding, but his average per game this season is only slightly more than half of his career average.
Miami has taken steps to try to fix this problem like waiving guard Terrel Harris today to free up a roster spot. The market for available big men right now is pretty slim so the Heat will likely have to wait for other teams to put players on waivers to pick someone up. What Miami should not do is what they did last season in adding a big man in Ronny Turiaf and wind up hardly using him.
The Heat have time to fix this, that’s the beauty of a long season. There’s always time to correct your mistakes.