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Getting to Know the Miami Heat

 

Over the next few days, we’ll be writing a lot about the Miami Heat, and you can read about them at Hot Hot Hoops and the Peninsula is Mightier. We all know about Dwyane Wade’s all-around game, Jermaine O’Neal’s bounce-back season and Michael Beasley’s maddening inconsistency. 

But here’s a brief, bullet point primer on the Heat as a team:

This is, on paper, a very even series. The Celtics’ average per game point differential is +3.6; Miami’s is +2.3, but the difference can be almost entirely explained away by Boston’s early-season 23-5 rampage. Since then, their point differentials have been about the same. 

Boston’s Pythagorean record (a Bill James-ian stat Basketball-Reference uses to predict record based on points scored and allowed): 52-30; Miami’s: 48-34. 

And remember: If not for that incredible Paul Pierce to Rajon Rondo inbounds lob that tied Miami at the buzzer on Jan. 6—a game the C’s went on to win in OT—Boston would have finished with 49 wins, Miami with 48. 

On paper—on paper—this is not a walkover. 

The Heat win with defense. The Heat allow just 104.3 points per 100 possessions, the 7th-lowest mark in the league. Their offense ranks just below the league average in points per possession.

Don’t expect to shoot well—especially from in close. Only the Magic hold opponents to a lower effective field-goal percentage, which is a version of traditional field-goal percentage that adjusts for the fact that a three-pointer is worth more than a regular basket. 

And the Heat are especially stingy around the rim. Only two teams allow a lower field-goal percentage on shots near the rim, according to Hoopdata. The C’s are only a couple of spots behind the Heat in this category. 

Whichever team can pierce the other’s interior D will have a major edge in this series.

Bad news: Miami always wins the turnover battle.

The Heat has been very careful with the ball for most of the D-Wade era, and they once again rank in the top 10 (#9) in fewest turnovers per possession. 

On defense, the Heat force a turnover on about 14 percent of their opponent’s possessions—the 8th-highest mark in the league. 

The C’s have cleaned up their turnover problem—dramatically, in fact—over the last quarter of the season, but they’ll have to be extra careful against Wade, Mario Chalmers and the other ball-hawking Heat(s). 

Don’t expect to grab a lot of offensive rebounds. Miami has pulled down 75 percent of available defensive rebounds, the 6th-highest mark in the league. 

Are you sensing a theme here? The Heat take care of the basketball, protect the defensive glass and contest every shot. This is a fundamentally sound team. Their talent level after Wade might be pedestrian—the Carlos Arroyo/Joel Anthony screen/roll isn’t scaring anyone—but the players they put on the floor understand how to play. The Heat are not going to beat themselves by playing lazy or stupid basketball. You are going to have to beat them. 

Respect the small forward’s three-point range. The Heat are an average three-point shooting team, and the guys you might reflexively fear from deep—Wade and the point guards—aren’t the ones you should really worry about. Instead, it’s the Heat small forwards that represent the only true deep threat on the team. James Jones (42 percent), Quentin Richardson (40 percent) and Dorell Wright (39 percent) can all stroke it from deep. 

Random Heat Facts:

Celtics Record Against Miami over last two seasons: 6-1 (3-0 this season)

Average Game Margin, last two seasons: Boston, +6

Records against Eastern Conference Playoff Teams:

               Miami (11-16)

               Boston (13-12)

Records against Eastern Conference Top 4:

                Miami (5-9)

                Boston (3-9)

Records against Western Conference Playoff Teams:

                Miami (5-11)

                Boston (8-8)

Record since Jan. 1, 2010:

                Miami (28-21)

                Boston (27-24)

  • I love Green

    Yeahhhh lets go Celts!!

  • http://www.livefromapt.blogspot.com w2

    This series is not a gimme by any stretch. I would have felt very differently about a series against the Bucks rather than this series against the Heat.

    Celts will need to move the ball and hit the glass and get there bigs into fould trouble as the Heat lack depth.

  • http://CelticsHub.com Zach Lowe

    @w2: Agree it’s not a gimme. The games, individually, will be tough. But the Celtics are better, and they should win this series. A seven-gamer wouldn’t shock me, nor would a 4-0 Boston sweep with each game being relatively close.

    Obviously, much more to come, including official predictions.

  • Jay P

    Agreed, absolutely nothing would surprise me in this series.

    And I literally mean nothing (not even a 4-0 Miami sweep…)

    There’s just no way to know what to expect because we have no idea what team is going to show up. The team that scorched the league till Christmas, or the barely .500 one since then? The team that dominated the Cavs for 3 quarters, or the one who nearly blew a 22 point lead in the fourth? The team who’s gotten big wins in LA, Dallas, Cleveland, or the one who’s put up stinkers with New Jersey, New York, and Washington.

    Who the hell knows, but no outcome in this series will surprise me.

  • Sami

    yeah it’s not a gimme this series… Wade could potentially wn one game buy himself. he almost did that in the regular season if you take away the Rondo-lob and Rondo outscoring the Heat overall in

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  • slam

    The other thing that scares me about this matchup is the officials. Wouldn’t David Stern love a Lebron/Wade matchup in round two…. yikes for us.

  • Jay P

    Please don’t start with conspiracy theories, last thing we need to be thinking about.

  • Jay P

    By the way, if you’re going for story lines, as much fun as watching Wade/Bron, or Kobe/Bron, or whatever other upper stratosphere freak of nature basketball players there are square off; there really is no better match up for basketball than the Celtics/Lakers.

    If anything, David Stern would want that match up again, as it’s the rivalry (in no small part Bird/Johnson too though) which revived the NBA, and is one of the most storied rivalries in sports history. Not too mention two of the biggest markets for basketball there are.

    As far as revenue producing showdowns, it doesn’t get better than Celtics/Lakers in the finals. Just saying, if we’re talking conspiracy theories, Stern would be better off making sure the Celtics and Lakers see each other in the finals.

  • Cptn Bubbles

    I’m not expecting Ray Ray or TA to do something miraculous vs Wade. I just want to see Wade scoring his points from JUMP SHOTS. If Ray & TA will just #1 keep Wade out of the lane=play off him #2 block out Wade with a BODY so he can’t offensive rebound then I’ll be happy. Give Wade the deep 2s & live with whatever happens.

    Ray is extremely bad at not blocking his man out (even if his man is not near the basket). You see Ray leaning or running down the court when the ball has not been secured! If Ray just face guards Wade after shots & obstructs him with his body it will give a couple of seconds for someone else to rebound.

    I think Rajon is going to have to be EXTREMELY AGGRESSIVE REBOUNDING the ball, especially jumping down to get defensive boards. Other teams do not have answers for Rondo actively rebounding. Rondo goes toward the ball (unlike our bigs who just stand there straight up waiting for the ball to come to them). We really need Rondo to have a double double in assists & rebounds more than we need him scoring.

  • I love Green

    I’m excited to see Ray Allen hit some clutch shots again. I think he hit like 3 or 4 game tying/winning shots against the Bulls. I think he’ll have plenty this postseason

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    Will be a treat to get to watch Dwade in his prime in a tight series. Looking forward to this series!!!

    And yes, I believe the Cs still have a shot at the title….
    http://nba.fanhouse.com/2010/04/15/four-decades-later-aging-celtics-hope-history-repeats/

  • http://CelticsHub.com Zach Lowe

    Oh, god, another ’69 C’s post. Really, it’s enough with this. Just because an aging C’s team won three post-season series in 1969–as opposed to the four they have to win now–and beat a totally dysfunctional Laker team in the Finals, when Jerry West got injured and the C’s won two games on incredibly lucky shots…doesn’t mean it has any relevance now.

  • Dan

    The one thing to point out in the comparisons above, is that as of the late the Celtics’ have been playing their worst basketball of the season, and the Heat their best. That’s the only reason these two teams have similar records.

    That said, I agree that there’s no reason to assume the Celtics will play up to their potential in the playoffs.

    As crazy as it sounds, I think DWade isn’t respected enough in the league. Whereas Kobe and LeBron both have supporting crews, Wade IS the Heat. The amount which defenses key in on him is ridiculous – throw in another scorer like an Amare, and the Heat will be scary good.

  • KOD

    Would love to see the Celts take care of business in 5, while the Cavs take 6 games to get by that pesky Bulls team that took the C’s to a classic 7 games last Spring. Any added rest for the Big 3 and Perk would be beneficial heading into a 2nd round matchup with the Cavs.

    That being said, do any of us really believe the Heat won’t push us to 7 games just like the Hawks and Bulls did the last 2 years in Rd 1?

  • http://ufrsports.com Midas

    This is going to be a tough series for the Celtics. Miami can be just as scrappy as the Cs.

    Perkins will need to step up, and help out KG.

    Ultimately I believe the Celtics will win this one with D-Fense.

  • http://www.hotmail.com Josh

    koolaid great article, and Zach, its completely relevant. Luck, timing, and determination all factor into the playoffs! Can’t wait, Go Celtics!

  • Cptn Bubbles

    Zach, Oliver Lafayette is one mad ant. Oliver is just like Krakatoa, ready to explode with potential….

  • Cptn Bubbles

    One harsh lesson Nature has taught us all. You can’t stop a mad ant.

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    LOL. agree that sports reporting is way too melodramatic and nostalgic come playoff time. no idea about the 68/69 team. but i really think this team has a chance.

    i gave up on them about 20 games ago, but the guys (individually) have looked a lot better lately. the record has been terrible as they didn’t play as a team, but everyone looked like they were doing what they needed to do to get themselves prepped. if they lose their confidence they could be done quick, but i still think the cavs do not want to play them. i fear the hawks and magic for the Cs more than anyone in the west.

    as they say, thats why they play the games….

  • I love Green

    Hey hey! I just simulated the playoffs and we have a 72-28 Cavs win. Our chances have improved by 16%

  • Brandon-3

    Let’s go heat—- dwayne wade 3

  • Brandon-3

    MIAMI HEAT

  • J-Bad

    Key things in this series to know.. Celtics get 2 days off after some of the games and is always a positive for a veteran team. The Miami Heat are not fully healthy and Boston is! Miami beat only 2 teams with records above .500 record or higher in their 12-1 stretch. The Celtics are ready for the playoffs and realize that they need to step it up. Lastly, Celtics win due to more depth, more urgency when it comes to the playoffs, and guys stepping up. Also, schedule works in favor of Boston and D-Wade is a one man show.

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  • http://www.waterfountainsdirect.com water features

    serves him right for selling out the calvs the way he did. Sorry wade but I’m no longer on the bad wagon

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    Very nice blog, really enjoyed reading your articles!

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