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C’s-Heat and the Learning Curve

 

The party line for the Heat right now is that the team just needs time to build chemistry. You’ve heard this perhaps a million times: “The Big Three just need to learn how to play together! They only got three minutes in the preseason!” And so on.

Here’s the always annoying Chris Bosh from last night on that topic in the AP recap:

“We’re nine games into the season and we can’t play perfect basketball right off the bat. We’re up against a lot. We just have to keep working. … When it’s all said and done, I think we’ll be where we want to be.”

Thanks, Chris. Also, maybe you should have gotten “up against” Rondo when he dunked in your dinosaur-like grill last night.

It’s definitely possible that the Heat still have yet to unlock some mystical secret about how to win on a team with two of the league’s top four players. But after last night, I’m not sure if things aren’t going to get worse for the Heat, or at least not much better. Because while the Heat are learning about each other, teams are going to start seeing them for the second and third time and learning how to exploit their holes. And as the C’s proved last night, this is a team that can be learned.

Why have the Heat suffered against great point guards this year? Because great point guards, Rajon Rondo perhaps foremost among them in this respect, find teammates with favorable matchups in situations where they can score quickly. And you might as well call this Heat team eHarmony.com because they offer some favorable matchups. (Sorry. I promise not to do anything like that ever again).

According to Basketball Prospectus, The Heat are going with the worst starting point guard and the worst starting center in the NBA this year in terms of overall win value. Okay: Nenad Krstic projects a lot worse than Joel Anthony does, but the Thunder have three true centers who are better than Krstic so I’m not counting him as a starter. I’m not doing it.

So this is a team with two spots on the floor that are thin from the starters on down. That’s the kind of team that great point guards like Rondo have erotic dreams about. The C’s can just set screens off the ball until somebody gets a good matchup on a Carlos Arroyo or a Udonis Haslem or, gulp, a Chris Bosh, and then Rondo gets them the damn ball. And he got it to them all over the place last night: 3 assists at the rim, 3 inside 10 feet, 1 from 10 to 15, 3 from 16 to 23, and 6 from outside the arc. Dayum. Get really excited for when Mike Miller rejoins the team, because he will immediately become the worst defender in the Heat rotation.

Meanwhile, back on defense, the C’s can exploit the Heat’s lack of depth by smothering the top three options (this is possible with KG’s spidery help defense) and forcing them to go to one of the creaking veterans standing just inside the arc. That plan worked crazily well last night: the Heat took 26 shots from 16 to 23 feet last night, 11 more than they took from anywhere else on the floor.

Uninformed Person: “But they made 65% of their long twos last night! Haslem was 7 for 7! That strategy failed!!!”

That’s not going to happen every time, Uninformed Person. The Heat average 42.5% from that area. Any game where you can make Udonis Haslem use up ten possessions is a great game.

Here’s Rondo articulating the same thing to Jackie MacMullan using like 600 fewer words than I did:

“If they put LeBron on me, who guards Paul? Who guards Ray?”

I wish WordPress could make that sentence glow and shoot little fireworks. So awesome. Because the answer to Rondo’s hypothetical is Carlos Arroyo, a man who the people at Converse tried valiantly to edit out of that Dr. J commercial, or Eddie House, who Ray can barely even see as he shoots over Eddie’s tiny arms.

This quote demonstrates that Rondo and the C’s basically skipped the learning curve with the Heat. They get what very few NBA media people got before this season began: when you spend virtually all of your team’s resources on three players, that leaves two players on the floor at all times who opposing teams can A) go after on defense and B) force you to use on offense.

So I wouldn’t rule out the league’s mediocre point guards watching the top guys and gradually learning how to pick apart the Heat defense as they get more experience with it. Yeah, some NBA point guards aren’t good enough to ever figure it out, but most of those guys already play for the Heat anyway. Ya burnt!

  • mike

    hey girls,

    you're 9 games in…that's 11% of the season….this should be the point where you have it figured out….

    here's the REAL issue….they are soft, mentally and physically…..

  • http://twitter.com/M_DeVelaine @M_DeVelaine

    I was making a bit of a joke about having our own Bill Simmons, and then I read this. All I have to say is "Wow." Excellent read, and outstanding use of humor.

  • JTKJ

    Haha lovin the new article Hayes. Will be lookin forward to readin more stuff from you. Theres a hint of Bill Simmons in you.

    Pity Chris Bosh didnt try stand up to rondo better because I still think Rondo gets the dunk but I get a better poster..maybe the same way Kobe "baptized" Dwight. Crotch in the face type posterization!

    Funny how Heat fans are consoling themselves and saying it was only a 5 point loss when if they actually bothered to watch, they'd know there was never any doubt who would win. Same reason those bandwagon Heat fans left for the exits early.

  • Urbeltic

    What about Karate Kid Coach Eric Spolastaroli saying at half time "you gotta check your egos guys" to the Heat players. Kinda weird, and not exactly the party line for the Heat organization.

    Also, which was better…Rondo's dunk over the skinny guy or last year when PP dunked on him and kicked him in the ballz.

    • hdavenport

      "Check your egos"–Really weird, and not what they should be doing at all. LeBron used 15 more possessions than any other player in the game and might have been better off using more. Guess Spoelstra is subtly asking Wade to give all his shots to LeBron there.

  • I_Love_Green

    The funny thing is, when the Heat do get their chemistry together, we'll have the baddest dude in the league, and the biggest G in the league back playing for us. Thats Perkins, and Delonte for Uninformed Person.

    Imagine the Perkdog going up against this Miami frontline. He'll be getting 10+ points, 12+ boards, and 5+ blocks. Its gonna be a massacre when WE are fully together.

  • Urbeltic

    Its definitely going to take one more season for the Heat to pull this off…too many wholes right now. The thing is…next season is gonna be a lockout so they are going to have to wait another year. Of all the teams that are going to get screwed by the Lockout…the Heat have to be top on the list.

  • roundo

    This is right on, Hayes we are looking forward to reading more, welcome

  • hdavenport

    Thanks for the welcome, everyone.

    So true abut Perk and Delonte. They must be pumped for the first Miami game.

    Speaking of crotches/balls: take some time to browse these game photos and note the percentage that are of LeBron grabbing his crotch/balls. The sideline photographers must know there's a market for those. http://scores.espn.go.com/nba/photos?gameId=30111

    • Jay P

      I enjoy you're writing, excellent blend of humor and real insight. Welcome aboard, and looking forward to more.

  • Berkcelt

    It's hard to imagine how Mike Miller could be worse at anything on the basketball court than James Jones. But I agree the Heat are going to have a hard time "learning" how to have better big guys and point guards.

  • VenturaCelticFan…FTL

    Already stoked on the new writers! I live in so cal and last night I had no less than 6 of my laker fan buddies text me to say how good we looked. I gave them all the same response”wait til we get healthy.” On a side note, while shaq doesn’t make a numeric impact, the spacing we get on the floor when he is in is very very tangible…18, get ready for us!

    • TedL

      Shaq's offense wasn't strong, but don't forget his other contributions – (1) 7 boards in 20 minutes; (2) drawing fouls that put us in the bonus.

      • hdavenport

        Paul talks a lot how much he loves looking up six minutes into the quarter and realizing Shaq already got them into the bonus. He set some nice screens for Ray tonight too.

      • Devin_in_Maine

        And it was nice to see a true "box-out" offensive rebound instead of just getting offensive boards off wild caroms and right-place-right-time situations. Shaq gives you that.

  • Batman

    What is with these "sports experts" claiming that the Heat will not lose to the Celtics again because they'll be 100% then
    Well we're not 100% either, and yet they fail to mention that

    • JCP

      Not to mention that they already said that once since season. The C's were "warned" by the sports experts about this game because the Heat would have themselves better put together now.

  • WestCoastCeltic

    off to a good start Hayes.

  • Morpheus

    You certainly bring a different tone to the Hub HD which is good,in fact somewhat pleasant.

    If there's one thing that's come out of all this that a lot of fans knew ,it's the fact that Wade and Bron don't compliment each other,well not in the offense Spoelstra has them running now anyway,which funnily enough, is very identical to the offense they ran in Cleveland.I guess Riley thought that spending all their money on 3 all stars would magically get them 70 wins.WRONG.

    Miami ain't getting any rings without a point guard.

    • JCP

      Do you think that if Bron decided agreed to play point guard that they'd do better?

  • Morpheus

    This team has another 2-3 elite years left in them if they can remain healthy,of which i'm well aware of that being a long shot of possibility.The Big 3,KG,Ray and Pierce have games based on skill not athleticism.In fact this is probably one of the least athletic teams in the league besides Nate,Rondo and the rookie Avery Bradley.

    Pierce could easily have another 3-4 more years playing at this level in him KG about another 2-3 and Ray about another 2.Players like Bron and Wade,their games will diminsh or become less and less effective because their effectiveness on the court is based on athleticism.

    Look at players like Nowitzki,he's still able to play at an elite level because his effectiveness is based on skill.

    • hdavenport

      It'll be fascinating to see how LeBron deals with age. Also looking forward to when he hits 40 and all his muscle immediately turns to 450 pounds of fat.

      I believe Ryan is putting up a post later about how exactly the (original) Big Three are still managing to play so young.

      • Morpheus

        That would be something

  • Morpheus

    I'll take skill over freaky athleticism 7 days of the week

  • Morpheus

    Tim Duncan – skill
    Baby – skill and brute strength
    Kaman – skill
    MJ was able to play into his 40s because of his skill level
    Kobe – skill
    Personally i think Wade has a better skill set than Bron offensively because he doesn't just rely on barging his way into the paint but, he doesn't have that killer mid range game that Mamba has

    So Miami better "get it" fast because Bron and Wade won't be able to play at this level well into their 30s,like Pierce,Ray and KG.

    • Devin_in_Maine

      A really interesting take! Case in point: Larry Legend…In "When the game was ours" he says that towards the end of his career he could barely move his back was so bad, yet he still managed to average 20 points, 9+ boards and 6+ assists per game. That was skill. If LBJ hurt his back that bad he'd be in a ridiculous $10,000 suit on the sidelines…

  • J Atlas

    good article hayes…i just wanted to comment that already just nine games into the Heat's new 3 era and there are already talks of who miami can deal chris bosh's contract to and what pgs and centers they could pick to compliment wade and james better smh…riley didn't realize that you can't just buy a championship you actually need to play the game…i guess miami isn't going to challenge bulls record for single season wins

  • Tom W

    Great article Hayes! You are the Rondo of Celticshub, I'm now excited for the future.

    I just want the record to show…when the Celtics reinvented their team in 2007-2008 they started of the season 8-1 in their first nine games. Admittedly, the Heat have a bigger target on their back than the C's did, but if Bosh wants to play the "we are still coming together as a team card", he might not want to look at the statistics of other teams doing the same thing.

  • Chris O

    Hayes you're awesome. Love the Chris Bosh Dinosaur comment, or how you just promised never to do again that I am sure you will. There are some Bill Simmons like characteristics in you but really you are more than just that. I love it, ya burnt!!!

    P.S. I think all your articles need fireworks.

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