Miami Heat have been on a tear lately, winning nine straight games. Most of their success has come thanks to the incredible play of LeBron James, who has truly been the catalyst for this team. However, there are a couple of things that the Heat have been doing collectively that have brought this wave of success over South Beach.
At the start of the season, the Heat came out of the gates with a new and improved offense featuring Ray Allen. Most thought that the defense would take a hit with the 37-year-old future hall of famer in the lineup, but no one expected Miami to momentarily become one of the worst defensive teams in the league.
Over the course of the first 10 games of the season, Miami ranked among the worst in the league in opponents points scored, allowing over 100 points per game. The Heat still went 7-3 in that stretch, but they did so by outscoring their opponents and not by employing the defense that we are all used to seeing.
Ever since the abysmal start on the defensive end, the Heat have made amends. To put things in perspective, Miami is allowing 92.7 points per game in this nine-game winning streak. That is a significant improvement.
Miami is among the league leaders when it comes to opponent 3-point field goal attempts, and early in the season the poor perimeter defense caused the Heat some suffering. However, lately the team has also done a better job guarding the perimeter, closing out on shooters and relying on swift rotations.
While the Heat no longer aim to simply outscore their opponents, the stats show that when Miami’s offense is clicking the team is nearly unstoppable. The Heat have scored 100 or more points in 32 games this season, holding a 30-2 record when the team collectively reaches triple digits.
The importance of good and solid defense is also reflected in the stats, assuring that the Heat cannot simply rely on offensive efficiency. When Miami allows over 100 points, the team is 12-10 this season.
Rebounding has undoubtedly been Miami’s Achilles’ heel. The NBA Champions rank dead last in the league in rebounding this season. The lack of size and a dominant presence in the paint has obviously hurt Miami, but when they put in the effort on the boards, the results generally reflect that. The Heat have only outrebounded the opposition 18 times this season, but are 16-2 when they win the battle on the boards.
Despite the glaring weaknesses, Miami is slowly but surely ironing out the issues. If the team continues on this path, it is hard seeing anyone stopping the Heat.
Vytis is a Miami Heat and NBA columnist for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter for the latest news on the Heat and the NBA: @VytisLasaitis