As the Miami Heat have steamrolled through the NBA this season, there are very few weaknesses an opponent can exploit. In fact, one of the only recipes for success against them is to make a high volume of three pointers. That sounds good on paper, but certainly not a strategy an opposing coach can rely on.
But separate the noise from the raw data, and a pattern slowly begins to emerge. There is a key to beating the Miami Heat. Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with how their opponent prepares. In this case, the old adage holds true: The only team that can beat the Miami Heat is the Miami Heat.
Much has been made of LeBron James’ improved post up game this year, yet it’s astonishing that his efficiency numbers are almost identical to last season.
LEBRON’S POST UP GAME:
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PPP = Points Per Possession, measuring offensive efficiency. Stats provided by Synergy Sports
The biggest difference is in the number of possessions he has posted up. Last season, he posted up 8.7% of the time, while this year, he has nearly doubled that to 16%. The result?
LeBron James has been enjoying one of the most statistically dominating seasons the NBA has ever seen.
And as LeBron goes, so does the rest of his team. Out of all their possessions, the Heat post up 11.3% of the time, 7th highest in the league, making them the 2nd most efficient team from the pivot at .903 PPP. By shooting less threes and getting better position near the basket, the Heat have been an offensive juggernaut, leading the league in overall offense.
In their losses, however, their post game almost vanishes, removing a vital cog in the Heat Offensive Machine. And it’s not only their shooting percentage and efficiency that go down – it’s the number of times they post up. In 5 of their 7 losses, they’ve posted up significantly less than their average.
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There is no game plan to stop the Heat from posting up, since that is the beauty of the play. Erik Spoelstra can always call a play at any time that gets the player of his choice to the spot of his choice. However, during the flow of these losses, the Heat appear to forget one of their main strengths, giving their opponents a fighting chance.
What’s even more astonishing is how few hard double teams the Heat face when they do post up. If LeBron posts up, doubling off of Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh would almost be conceding the score. But given their cold blooded efficiency from the low block, it boggles the mind why opposing coaches wouldn’t at least try to disrupt the flow of their offense a little bit more.
While teams can prepare by shooting more in practice, with hopes of hitting a high volume of three’s, it is clear that that strategy is merely an illusion. Until a coach can figure out a way to stop Coach Spoelstra from calling out a post play more than 11.3% of the time, the Heat look unbeatable.
Written By: Coach Nick