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A Q-and-A With a Heat Expert

 

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.

  • Perry

    Celtics sweep? Ha Ha!

    Enlightening stuff. Safe to say Wade will get his points, so it’s incumbent on the C’s defense not to let the Chalmers and Cooks of the world get out of hand. Keep an on Q. Rich who loves raining down threes. He and Pierce have a thing going on from his days as a Knick.

    These days Perk is getting the best of O’Neal. Haslem is always trouble. Beasley is the X factor though. Nice touch facing the basket. Not sure if he’s disciplined enough to exploit Kevin’s lateral weakness with a post up move. Would hate to see Bealsey wind up in another compromising photo this summer over the mind games KG will be playing on him.

    Celts overall expereince pays off here big time. If they can hold home court it’s a short series, but the pressure is really on them tomorrow night. After all, didn’t they tell us the switch gets flipped once the post season begins?

  • Sam

    The Celtics have a history of playing poorly when Rondo takes on the scoring burden, so it will be interesting to see how him as the X-factor plays out. He will abuse Chalmers and Arroyo on the defensive end, still it would have been nice to use his defensive prowess to guard a more prolific threat.

  • Jay P

    @Sam

    Well if Pierce and Ray play like they have been over the last few weeks of the season, Rondo wont need to do the scoring.

    Pierce really looked backed to old form in the last few games, and Ray has been excellent since the All-Star break.

    The offense has really looked good, but the losses came because of slips in defense. If they can pick up the defensive intensity (which should be expected given its the playoffs now) and the offense keeps moving the way it was, this wont be a series.

    I’ll go on record and say if the Celtics limit the Heat to to about 90. They will win in 5.

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    great stuff. like these posts with the ‘Bad Guys’.

    my favorite matchup of this series will be watching how the Cs defend wade. doc & tibs have to find a way to not exclusively play ray on him 1on1. will TA get a lot of burn on him? will ray be on the floor every second wade is not? will rondo or pierce spend some time on him? is quis officially out of this picture?

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    @JayP agree on pierce and allen looking on top form lately. the record has not reflected good team play but, individually, these guys look like they have primed the pump to hit the switch together.

    the Cs need game1 tomorrow

  • Jason

    After Wade, it’s actually Haslem that worries me. Baseline J after baseline J. I’m already prepared to scream “Would somebody f-ing guard him please?!?!”

    I guess if Jermaine feels motivated, he could be a problem, but how reliable is that?

  • Cptn Bubbles

    Surya is really good. Great questions Zach & interesting, thoughtful answers from Mr. Fernandez.

    ‘Arroyo keeps a tidy offense’… Looking forward to Rajon tracking mud, breaking, cluttering, littering, busting, bashing, battering, shattering, smashing, & generally rampaging & ransacking all this tidiness. I picture Rondo being the biker gang coming to Arroyo’s tidy house.

    Boston’s season long weakness has been turnovers (SELF destruction) & rebounding. I hope Rajon goes into the game in Rebound Rondo mode. We can’t play great defense & then give up that board. Point guards are not supposed to be your rebounders, but Rajon is not your typical, orthodox point guard, thank God. We need Rajon to be extremely aggressive rebounding on the defensive glass. We need to see him constantly flying into the picture down there in the paint to snag the ball. Rajon has to be a FINISHER on defensive possessions by rebounding the missed shot (perfect example is when he got tired of watching his bigs getting beat by Houston’s shorties & jumped down there in the paint to beat Scola to the ball….BUT Rajon needs to do that EARLY & OFTEN).

    We all know D Wade is a monster. He is going to get his. Just please make him get his points by shooting from the outside. If Wade is going to hit deep jumpers then so be it BUT KEEP WADE OUT OF THE LANE = PLAY OFF WADE. Please Ray & TA put your body on Wade AFTER the shot. Really, anybody put a body on Wade after shots go up from him or the rest of the Heat players to keep Wade off the glass. Just being an obstacle & getting in his way for 1 or 2 or 3 seconds could make ALL the difference. I love the way Scal just goes head first into people & goes amoeba on them to block them out. Scal is not going to get the rebound, but likewise his man is not going anywhere either. Wade is far too talented & dangerous to be wandering around the offensive boards. Refs will usually not call hugging fouls away from the basket after the shot has gone up. Somebody needs to be hugging on Wade when it comes to our defensive boards.

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  • dave

    BOS is better at every position except SG. miami plays tough D so if they when they keep it tight wade should be able to get them a couple games, but thats it. C’s win 4-2, but then get eviscerated by CLE.

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