Surya Fernandez writes about the Heat at Hot Hot Hoops, the Miami blog in the TrueHoop Network. Surya was kind enough to answer some questions about Miami on the eve of the playoffs. He gives us some great insight into the enemy and tips us off to some things we should look for as the series begins Saturday night. Thanks, Surya.
CelticsHub: The Heat have used a 2-3 zone recently. How well has it worked, and how often–and against what sorts of line-ups–do they use it?
HotHotHoops: The Heat won’t just come out with a 2-3 zone but will quickly utilize it if it’s obvious that change is needed and Erik Spoelstra is not afraid to freely switch back and forth through the course of the game to keep the other team guessing.
The Heat’s best defenders—Joel Anthony, Udonis Haslem, Jermaine O’Neal and even Dwyane Wade—all work near the rim and are very good at blocking or altering shots and taking charges. Quentin Richardson and Dorell Wright are capable at sticking with their man, but the Heat’s perimeter defense can be lackluster and penetrable. This, along with a shaky transition defense, is why the Heat have so much trouble with young, athletic teams like the Thunder or Bobcats who push the tempo.
I don’t see the Heat using the zone much on a half-court team like the Celtics although it will have to change it up if their shots are falling from long-range.
CH (Good guys): True or false: Dwayne Wade shoots too many three-pointers.
HHH (Bad guys): True. Especially at the end of games. Those pull-up threes at the beginning of the shot clock that Wade likes to do at times aren’t good for my blood pressure.
CH (Good guys): What has Carlos Arroyo done to supplant Mario Chalmers as the starting point guard? How much do the Heat play the two of them together?
HHH (Bad guys): Arroyo had not done much through a large part of the season but had already supplanted Mario Chalmers as the starter after 22 games. Then he was almost cut when the Heat tried out Rafer Alston instead so it wasn’t like they were too enamored with what they had.
In many games he was the third string PG off the bench or not even playing. With those three PGs the Heat’s record with each as a starter was about the same .500 record. Arroyo’s turnaround began when Alston went AWOL and the Heat’s schedule lightened up considerably. He’s been hitting his open midrange spots (the defense is a little more worried about the other Heat guard) and he finished second to Chris Paul as the NBA’s leader in assist/turnover ratio.
He’s only dishing a little over 3 assists and doesn’t play a ton of minutes so he’s not exactly the X-Factor for the Heat but he does keep a tidy offense and rarely is out of control. Chalmers meanwhile has settled into the role of combo guard for the second unit and the Heat has been effective with both in the backcourt when Wade needs a breather.
CH (Good guys): The KG-Beasley match-up at power forward might be the most intriguing of the series. How would you like to see Beasley attack KG on offense? What about guarding KG on the other end?
HHH (Bad guys): Beasley needs to back him down, spin and then blow by Garnett and take it to the rim with either hand. If KG these days prefers a fadeaway jumper to attacking the rim that’s one thing, but a 21-year-old Beasley needs to exploit this advantage. Beasley is prone to settling for his jumper since it’s usually effective, but his shot has been off so he may be more inclined to take it to the rim.
KG will still give him headaches at the other end using all the tricks a veteran like him is capable of doing. Beasley should keep his feet on the ground, concentrate on his footwork and not go for any fakesbecause that’s what Garnett can use against Beasley to free himself.
CH (Good guys): What one thing–or match-up–about Boston worries you the most?
HHH (Bad guys): Rondo. The Heat don’t have an answer for him with Chalmers and Arroyo. They just can’t keep up with him. The help defense needs to be solid and rotate to cover for this or else Spoelstra may try Richardson on him or even stick Wade on him in the fourth quarter (if he can afford to have Wade expend more energy on defense).
CH (Good guys): Be honest. You must recognize the vast superiority of the Celtics to the Heat and New England to Florida in general, right? *
HHH (Bad guys): (Weeping). You are exactly right. I’m not sure why the NBA is even bothering with this series. Boston in a sweep. *
* Exchange may not have happened.