NBA Miami Heat

Five Players Who Need to Improve Their Games for the Miami Heat

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Five Players Who Need to Improve Their Games for the Miami Heat

Brett Davis- USA Today Sports

The Miami Heat, after losing 121-114 to the Atlanta Hawks, have now dropped four of their last six games with several of those losses coming at the hands of teams well under .500. The absence of Dwyane Wade has really hindered what this roster is truly capable of, robbing the defending champs of true cohesion within the starting lineup (Heat have gone 5-6 in his absence). Wade’s absence not only affects the starting lineup, but it also impacts the role players as well. By inserting a role player into the starting lineup you are essentially eliminating a vital spark off the bench and reducing your second unit’s impact on the game even further.

In the midst of all of these losses, the Heat are still the second best team in the East and fifth best in the NBA. Regardless of these standings, the Heat are held to a higher standard and the basketball they are playing as a group right now isn’t their finest. The Heat have dropped to the 25th ranked defense in the month of January, being passed by teams well below .500 such as the Sacramento Kings, New York Knicks and Utah Jazz. These are all troubling signs, but the trend that has been the most disturbing is the lack of production from several key players in the starting lineup and the second unit.

The Heat are only halfway through the NBA season with plenty of time to catch up to the Indiana Pacers in terms of grabbing that No. 1 seed in the East. Here are five players currently on the Heat roster who need to significantly improve their game in order the Heat to succeed in the playoffs and return the Larry O’Brien trophy back to Biscayne Bay.

Jared Doyle is a Miami Heat writer for Follow him on Twitter @outofboundsjay, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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5. Chris Bosh

Geoff Burke- USA Today Sports

Although Chris Bosh has scored over 20 points in the last three games (first in a Miami Heat uniform), his numbers on average are almost all down from last season. Bosh’s points per game averages dropped from 16.6-16.3, rebounding dropped from 6.8-6.7 and his blocks per game dropped from 1.4-1.1. The slight dip in numbers could be attributed to his decline in minutes per game, but the Heat are going to need more from Bosh in the paint than the measly six rebounds he is averaging this year. With his field goal percentage also taking a hit (53 percent to 52 percent), Bosh has to step his game up in order for the Heat to have a chance of winning a third straight title.

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4. Chris Andersen

Joe Camporeale- USA Today Sports

Chris Andersen is still considered one of the best players the Miami Heat have picked up mid-season since the formation of the Heat’s Big Three. Regardless, Andersen has had a topsy-turvy kind of season in terms of production. Andersen’s PER has only dropped 0.3 points to 17.10 this season from last, but due to injuries limiting his production he is only seeing a slight uptick in his statistics. As the backup center for the Heat, only averaging four rebounds in 18-19 minutes a game is not ideal. The Heat will need more aggression underneath the rim from the high-flying veteran going forward for the rest of the season.

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3. Shane Battier

Jeremy Brevard- USA Today Sports

Shane Battier is having arguably one of the worst seasons of his NBA career in a Miami Heat uniform. With a career-low average of 20 minutes a game this season (mostly due to injuries), Battier is averaging just 4.7 ppg, 1.9 rebounds and just shooting 37 percent from beyond the arc (a drop from 43 percent the season before). Battier is one of the Heat’s premier three-point shooters, so these low averages from beyond the arc are unacceptable. Erik Spolestra going forward needs to find an offensive system that will help Battier flourish from beyond the three-point line. Otherwise, Battier should be removed from the starting lineup and replaced with a frontcourt player who can actually rebound.

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2. Ray Allen

Steve Mitchell- USA Today Sports

Ray Allen is currently in one of the worst shooting slumps of his career. From beyond the arc, Allen is averaging just 34 percent for the season. The only season Allen shot anywhere close to this poor was during the 2002-03 season with the Sonics when he only played 29 games due to injury. Allen needs to get back his true game which is running off screens and getting open looks beyond the arc. The one bright side in Allen’s shooting slump is his aggression on the boards where he is averaging over five rebounds a game when he starts. What the Miami Heat need from Jesus Shuttlesworth more than anything right now is his shooting stroke to return.

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1. Udonis Haslem

Kelley L. Cox- USA Today Sports

Udonis Haslem, much like Shane Battier, is having one of the worst seasons of his career. Career-lows in many categories has forced Erik Spoelstra to delegate Haslem to the end of the bench where he is seeing little to no minutes. What the Miami Heat need from Haslem more than anything is his tough interior rebounding, and this has been the one thing Haslem hasn’t been able to provide. Haslem’s rebounding averages have hit a huge decline, dropping from 5.4 boards a game last season to just 2.9 boards a game this season. This is another major reason why Spoelstra has not elected to use Haslem more throughout the first half of the season. Even in his reduced role, Haslem can still make an impact on the court just by rebounding the ball more aggressively. This has to happen for Haslem in the second half of the season.