Miami Heat: 24 and done?



  • Teams: Detroit Pistons (23-46) at Miami Heat (53-14)
  • Date: March 22, 2013
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: FSD, NBATV

What to look for

The Miami Heat have turned themselves into one of the toughest teams to beat in NBA history.

Every time they seem headed for a loss, LeBron James or Dwyane Wade pull a rabbit out of their hats and end up laughing at those in the audience that temporarily doubted them.

Chris Bosh and company are currently in the midst of the second longest winning streak in NBA history. They’ve won 24 straight games and will be shooting for number 25 tonight against the Detroit Pistons.

Just how ridiculous has Miami been of late?

During the string of victories, they’ve actually been outrebounded on average. Indeed, not only are teams gathering more boards than the Heat, they are also generating more field goal attempts.

And yet, Erik Spoelstra’s men keep winning for two reasons: firstly, they consistently outshoot teams from the field. Secondly, their crunch time performance has been superior in comparison to their opponents’.

During the win streak, Miami is winning games by an average of 10.8 points. The instances where the contests have been tight have brought terrific defensive and offensive outputs by the Heat’s big three and the players surrounding them.

In the last 47 days or so, the Heat have scored 126.7 points per 100 possessions in the clutch (defined as the last five minutes of the game with the scoring margin within five points), the best figure in the league over that time.

Defensively, they’ve surrendered 80.8 points per 100 possessions in crunch time, which is the second best figure in the NBA since February 3rd (start of the streak).

Their play this week has been perfectly indicative of their excellent late game execution during their undefeated run. On Monday night in Boston, the team rallied from a 17-point deficit to make the game close late in the fourth quarter.

LeBron James was spectacular in that outing by virtue of his scoring and playmaking to end the game. The offense helped the Heat take the lead late, while the defense closed out the contest despite a career night by Jeff Green.

The following battle occurred two nights later at the Quicken Loans Arena where the Cleveland Cavaliers took a 27-point lead. It seemed as though the Cavs would be making history by ending the Heat’s run.

However, the defending champions bounced back late in the third quarter and made a game of it again. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, Ray Allen and LeBron James looked as though they had insulted Nas and Mobb Deep in their very own rendition of Jay-Z’s Takeover.

The Chosen One and Jesus Shuttlesworth combined for 21 points in the final period and helped Miami take the lead in crunch time. The defense closed out the head-to-head matchup and sent Miami to victory.

The Pistons will have a shot tonight at the champs.

As evidenced by the data, owning the boards won’t be enough. Lawrence Frank’s unit will desperately need a good shooting night if they plan on keeping the contest close and getting an opportunity for a road win tonight.

In addition, protecting the ball against a selective ball-hawking defense is mandatory against this Heat squad. They feed off miscues, which allow them to get out in transition and gain momentum.

If Detroit is successful in these key areas, it should afford them the possibility of stealing the contest late. Mind you, their execution in crunch time will have to be superior to that of Miami.

Sounds difficult? Well, no one said taking down the chest-beating champs would be easy…

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