LeBron James has done everything he can do to keep this Heat team near the top of the Eastern Conference. But he’s battling some obstacles that might leave the Heat short of their goal of even one title. Erik Spoelstra is still tinkering with his lineups from game to game, and hasn’t been able to settle into an offensive rhythm. What you may not understand is that at this level, with the sophistication of NBA defenses, there needs to be an offensive consistency to ensure good shots. Imagine working at a job where you have to separate mail according to zip code one day, city another, and last name on yet another. And then imagine that those criteria rotate randomly. This is what the Heat offense look like most nights, and why they have trouble getting good shots.
What saves the Heat is their vaunted defense, which forces turnovers and run outs at a very high rate. In fact, the team relies on these turnovers and run outs to generate a significant part of their offense. According to Synergy Sports, transition is the 2nd most offensive play they execute. Problem is, in the playoffs, as have time to prepare, they will certainly turn the ball over less and provide less opportunity for the Heat to get those easy shots.
The Heat defense has been exposed this week on two specific plays. Both the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls used down screens and curls to goad the defense to over extend. The curler would simply slip a pocket pass to the down screener for an easy 15 footer. Spoelstra never adjusted and the Heat lost both games. Had the screener’s man simply stayed a little closer to his man, they would’ve thwarted many of those Kevin Garnett jumpers.
The Knicks showed they can run a screen and roll with a weakside pin down, in order to take advantage of the Heat’s over pursuit of the ball. Time after time, the Knicks freed up 3 point shooters with a simple back screen on the weakside, and a skip pass got them wide open shots. I can guarantee teams playing the Knicks in the playoffs will run both of these sets ad nauseum and if they limit their turnovers, the Heat become vulnerable.