Miami Heat Season Preview: Defending Champs Edition

Team Capsule

Last year was a magical year for the Heat and Heat fans. Lebron James had another wonderful season that resulted in him winning his third regular season MVP trophy to go along with a finals MVP and championship ring. Although he was always heavily criticized for not being “clutch” or coming up big in big moments, Lebron James certainly did come up big in last year’s playoffs. This year, him and the Miami Heat are looking to repeat as champions of the NBA.

The Heat are known as a very fast team that likes to run teams out of the gym, and while they do that from time to time, they ranked only 16th in pace (which is an estimate of the number of possessions per 48 minutes by a team) at 91.2 possessions a game.  This team is smothering defensively, which often causes many turnovers from the opposition, and when that happens they get out and run being led by Freight Train James in transition. Although certainly more star studded than the late 1990s Pat Riley teams, they still have a lot of the same philosophies as those teams: be great defensively and hustle hard. They were fourth in defensive rating last year (100.2) and 4th in defensive efficiency.

The Heat, as Erik Spoelstra refers to them, are a “position-less” team. That is because of the great versatility of the team. Lebron James can play all five positions, Chris Bosh is can play both PF and C. There are many wings on the team like Mike Miller, Shane Battier, and Ray Allen that can play multiple positions as well. Supposedly, a faster offense is being implemented, much like the one seen at the beginning of last year’s regular season. Last year’s wasn’t sustained partly because of a shortened season and lack of practice time.

Biggest Strength: Defense and Transition offense.

The Heat were fourth in defensive rating, fourth in defensive efficiency, eighth in opponent eFG%,  and third in OTOR (opponent turnover rate). All this led to them forcing turnovers and subsequently, being one of the best transition teams in the league.

Biggest Weakness: Defending the three point shot.

They were 25th in the league in O3P% (opponent three point percentage), with 36.3 % of all of their opponents’ three point shots going in. Despite being a great defensive team, their aggressive and gambling attitude while playing defense often leaves players wide open on the perimeter.

Player to Watch:  Dwyane Wade.

After playing all of the postseason with a bad knee, Dwyane Wade actually looked mortal. He didn’t have the same explosiveness that he usually has and generally didn’t look like himself. After getting knee surgery this off season, it will be interesting to see how the 6’4″ guard recovers from it. I believe the reports of his demise because of his postseason play last year are extremely overblown, and apparently, so does Dwyane http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/miami-heat/fl-miami-heat-main-dwyane-wade-1007-20121006,0,7842152.story.

Best Addition: Ray Allen.

They signed the sharpshooting shooting guard (say that 10 times fast) from Boston to a two year deal this off season. He shot 45.3% from long range last season, with just over five attempts per game. His true shooting percentage was really high as well, at 60.7%. He gives this team another shooter and a capable ball handler who can run point guard from time to time as seen in the Heat’s first preseason game against the Atlanta Hawks.

Key Subtractions: None, unless you think losing Ronnie Turiaf was a key loss.

Projected Record for 2012-13: 62-20

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