Given that the Heat have now lost four games in a row, and just got swept in their season series with the Bulls, I think it is appropriate to shed some light on the issue. Let me start out by saying that I’m not a Heat fan, but I have watched more Heat games than any other team this year, so I do think I am unbiased in this discussion. There are three things I want to discuss; whether the Heat will succeed in the playoffs, whether crying was warranted after the rough stretch, and whether we are all making too much of this.
So, will the Heat succeed in the playoffs? I’m going to post some numbers and let you decide for yourself. Their average scoring margin is +6.71, which is second in the league. Their offensive rating is 110.5 which is 6th in the NBA. Their defensive rating is 103.2 which is 5th in the NBA. Their field goal percentage is 47.5% while opponents are scoring on 43% shooting. They have LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, three players who were undisputed number one options on their teams last season. Yet, they have struggled against good teams. Does that mean anything? The main problem with the Heat is lack of depth. In the playoffs rotations tighten, which means more minutes for stars.
More minutes for star players means that you have LeBron, Wade and Bosh on the court longer, and have poor players playing less time. Last year LeBron played 39 minutes per game in the regular season. In the playoffs he played 41.8 minutes. Almost three minutes more for LeBron and three minutes taken away from a poor player. Last year Wade played 36.3 minutes per game in the regular season, and played 42 minutes per game in the playoffs. So you can see, as rotations tighten, more time will be given to LeBron and Wade. What does this mean? The Heat’s biggest problem this year is winning close games. So I ask you this, if LeBron and Wade, and even Bosh, are all playing 40 minutes per game or more, and players like Big Z or Eddie House are pushed out of the rotation, would the games even be close?
So for instance, if the Heat go with a starting five of Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Erick Dampier, with Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem (assuming he’s healthy by playoffs), James Jones and Mike Bibby off the bench, how good can this team be? The bench, and players outside of the Big Three, are clearly not producing, so by making the rotation smaller and giving more minutes to the star players how good can this team be? I don’t think these recent losses are anything to worry about, considering that most of them (outside of the San Antonio game) were close games.
Next topic I wanted to cover was the Heat crying after yesterdays game. By now everyone has probably heard that many members of the team cried after yesterdays loss to the Bulls. Of course, this is funny to all of us who aren’t Heat fans, and Heat fans are either making excuses for this or laughing at them with everyone else. Honestly though, who cares? If the Heat are getting emotional, who cares? It doesn’t say anything about their character, or anything else, it’s not like teams have gotten into their head or anything like that. I think they are just overwhelmed by the expectations that the media has given them. Coach Erik Spoelstra and the players probably shouldn’t have leaked this information to the press, but what can you do? The media loves ripping on the Heat, and this is just another example of that. Should we rip the players for crying? Sure, if you want to. At the same time though, I know it doesn’t really mean much. It’s nothing to get excited about, and doesn’t mean much about anything regarding the Heat.
Now, are we making too much of these losses? Yes we are! Easy answer, yes. Every team goes through a rough stretch, and as I have already discussed, this team is still among the top teams in the league in many statistical categories. Look at the makeup of this team. It’s basically two great players (future Hall of Fame players James and Wade) one very good player (Bosh), two good bench guys (Miller and Haslem, who has been injured). The rest of the team is basically the NBA equivalent of the Island of Misfit Toys. This team doesn’t really have much depth, are we really surprised that they aren’t the best team in the NBA? Look at teams like Boston, Chicago and Orlando. They all have one thing in common; depth. Miami needs depth to be considered among the elites. I still think they can do well in the playoffs, but with no depth, nothing is for certain.
So let’s all take a step back, examine the situation, before we bash the Heat. Is this really surprising? Are they as good as we thought they were? As good as the media portrayed them? They are a very good team, but a team with the make up of the Heat is bound to hit some rough patches, and they have only had two rough stretches this season; the beginning of the year when they were still figuring stuff out, and now. So let’s relax and ease off the Heat, because if they succeed in the playoffs, who’s going to be around to say I told you so?
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