Dwyane Wade returning to the Miami Heat on Saturday night certainly gave the defending NBA Champions a bit of a boost over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Obviously, the Wolves not having Kevin Love available also greatly aided the Heat’s plight, but that shouldn’t totally discount the value of Wade being back on the floor for Miami.
However, in Wade’s absence one of the things that the Heat fell victim too wasn’t wholly related to not having their star shooting guard. In fact, their losses to the Detroit Pistons and the Chicago Bulls simply brought up an issue that they’ve had in past regular seasons as well. In those losses, the Heat were simply dominated in the frontcourt by big bodies.
On Sunday evening the Heat will travel to Detroit for their second game against one another in the past week. Though having Wade back will certainly make Miami’s attack a bit more fearsome all around and make things harder on the Pistons, those same issues with the frontcourt could still surface for the Heat.
Even regularly, Miami doesn’t have a slew of big bodies that they like to insert into their rotation. They derive most of their success with Chris Bosh playing as the de-facto center in small-ball lineups, but that also leaves them vulnerable in physical matchups in the post both defensively and on the glass. Throw in the fact that Chris “Birdman” Andersen is day-to-day and hasn’t played as of late and that problem only increases.
Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe both showed that they are the type of matchup that can cause them problems this past Tuesday when Drummond put up 10 points, 18 boards and a block while Monroe put up 16 points, six rebounds, five assists and two blocks. From two young frontcourt players, that’s pretty dominant production.
For the Heat to try and negate the Pistons’ physical advantage in the post on Sunday, they really need to try and control the pace. It’s no secret that the Heat are at their best offensively when they are out running, but that will also possibly force the Pistons into playing at a similar tempo which could wear down the big men a bit and not let them get set up in the post as often.
In terms of the big picture, though, you really can’t be concerned about the Heat’s struggles against big frontcourts like the Pistons. This is a problem that they’ve had in the regular season over the past three years and they have three Finals appearances and two rings to show over those three years. Though it feels like a cop-out at times, the Heat simply are cruising in third gear right now, waiting to shift it to fifth in the postseason like they always seem to do.