Monday, January 7, 2013

Heat 6 game road trip: Addressing rebounds.

My previous post I went 2/4 calls correct. The Heat have an upcoming 6 game road trip. I'm calling the heat returning from this trip 4-2. Let's see how it goes. I am now 6/8 calls do far. This will be an opportunity to work on the rebounding woes that have been ailing the heat thus far.

Bosh has said in the post game interview that he will be counting his rebounds (since everyone is talking about it). We'll count the rebounding on the road and compare against team rebounding. If his numbers increase and the overall tram numbers don't, then they have not solved the issue.

An increase in effort on the glass from the starting center should impact the overall team rebounding.

With UD in the starting line up it will be a good reference to compare bosh to. I Think if he comes out with 8 per game that's a step in the right direction. If over the 6 games its in double figures, this would be a staggering number.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Miami Heat win Christmas Day Showdown: The Call

And what a game it was. In my previous post I called this game to be a Heat win making me 4/4 so far but parts of the details where incorrect. Firstly I was under the assumption that this game was going to be played at OKC but this was obviously incorrect. It did however not change many of the other facets of the game in regards to the call. My main concern was for the Heat to have enough space against Oklahoma City Thunder by at least the last 5 minutes to keep them away. They did. It was only a few points but this was enough to pull out the W. It was not enough though to push to that 8-15 points cushion by the final buzzer but it was a 6 point win 103-97.

Matchups

The LeBron James vs Kevin Durant matchup was on full display on this one, KD going for 33 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists on 11-21 from the field, whilst LeBron finished with 29 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists shooting 12-20 from the field. Durant was in early foul trouble, but after a slow first half he came alive as expected.
The second matchup was the Dwyane Wade vs Russell Westbrook where they both went for 21 points. Westbrook was inefficient in his outing though shooting 5-19 from the field totaling 11 boards and 3 assists along with 5 turnovers.Wade on the other hand was 8-17 from the field getting 5 boards and 5 assists, also with 5 turnovers. He had a untimely turnover in the final stages allowing the Thunder to get within 1 points with less than a minute to go.

Notable

Mario Chalmers went for 20 points today, scoring 3's and even burning Westbrook on an occasion or two for easy layups at the basket. Ray Allen was only 1-5 from the field only getting one 3 in this one and getting shaken up in the physical game, but boy is it a luxury to have a go to man in the clutch to keep another team playing the foul game against the clock. He was 4-4 to help close things out. Chris Bosh went for a quiet 16 points and 6 boards but only played 31 minutes because of early foul trouble.


Stats

This game was a physical one with so many collisions throughout. Both LeBron James and Kevin Durant had technical fouls in the first half. In the second half Dwyane Wade and Serge Ibaka both picked up technical fouls after a hard foul on Westbrook by Shane Battier (which had a flagrant-1 call removed after review). 51 Foul calls were made in the game. The physicality of the game did not leave a negative connotation with these two teams but more so a playoff defense type feel from both teams. The anticipated finals rematch was a must watch on Christmas and it definitely delivered with no team running away with it throughout.
The Heat now move to 19-6, sitting atop the East, while the Thunder are now 21-6 still leading the league. The Heat shot at 47.5% today and only 28.6% from three point land. They where though 19-19 from the line and assisted on 20 of the 38 field goals made.They lost the rebound game by 7 but this was not a big issue with the Heat getting 9 offensive boards, just 2 short of the Thunder on the offensive glass. Defensively the Heat held the Thunder to 42.3% shooting and 31.3% from three. The Thunder got significantly more free throw attempts in this one shooting 32-38 from the line.

The Call

The next 4 games on the Heat's roster include the Charlotte Bobcats tomorrow, and 2 days later a back-to-back against the Detroit Pistons and the Milwaukee Bucks and 2 days later against the Orlando Magic. These 4 games closing out the 2012 portion of the season are very winnable games for the Heat. It's hard to imagine the Heat going 3-1 in this stretch or less (in terms of wins) but I have to consider this as an outcome with the Heat so far prone to have a hiccup in a stretch that is very "winnable". Then again, the Heat look very different over the last 5 games and now on a 4 game win streak including this statement W over the Thunder, I don't see the Heat defense changing. They have  kept the last 5 teams under 100 points while maintaining the offense that was working early in the season.
This combination makes me feel at this point that the Heat will go 4-0 on this stretch with the Heat getting their highest win streak of the season and closing out the year strong. We'll check in after each of the 4 games to see how I go on this call.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Miami Heat On Track So Far? Calling the Christmas Day G

Following my post where I called the 3 games leading into the Christmas day game against the Oklahoma City Thunder I've got 3/3 correct so far. This call will be a little harder as I expressed in the previous post. To recap: at that point the two scenarios I saw was a Heat win by 8-15 points and if the Heat haven't separated themselves from OKC by the last 5 minutes then they will likely lose the game.

The Heat will be playing on the road against the number one team in the league to this point. The Heat thus far are only 5-4 in games on the road and winning a road game of this magnitude will be a statement game showing that the Heat team are once again a good road team (as they were in the previous two seasons).

The Call

This finals matchup  will be an exciting one either way but I'm calling a Heat W in this one. Both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will be a handful without a doubt, but I feel the position-less offense the Miami Heat run, matches well against the Thunder's defense. Head to head matchup of KD vs Lebron and Westbrook vs Wade will be intriguing throughout. The X-factors will play a big difference in this one and whichever teams bench/shooters are performing better will dictate the flow of the game. - Not necessarily the result as this falls onto a combination of the superstars and shooters for both teams.

We'll follow up after the game and see how I am on calling the season after this point. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Miami Heat On Track so far ? 3/3


This is the third game out of a small stretch leading into the Christmas game that I called for the Heat. You can see this at this post. The Miami Heat defeated the Utah Jazz 105-89 and although the Heat pulled away setting the tone early in the third, it was a tough fought battle for the most part. The Jazz just wouldn't go away even after being down by almost 20 points at one point in the third, it took passed midway through the fourth quarter before the Heat could truly separate themselves and ultimately rest their stars in the final few minutes.
With a big front line and Miami's Chris Bosh out with a flu, Udonis Haslem started at center making for a front court with Shane Battier and LeBron James.

Stats

LeBron started slow and was more aggressive in the second half, finishing with 30 points on 11-20 shooting. This worked out fine as Dwyane Wade was playing well from the start ending up with a triple double like stat-line of 21 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists and was efficient too going 8-14 shooting.
The Heat as a team was efficient once again going 52.1% in Field Goals and 45.8% from three. They also finished with 23 assists for 38 field goals made, a little less than the past 2 games but still on par with where it should be, reflecting the Heats ability to share and move the ball for the right shot. They lost the rebound battle and against a big team this is expected, but the difference was only 4 which is still where they want to be as this is not their strength.

Notable

Other players that stepped up were Udonis Haslem, finally starting to make his 15 ft jumper again - still not quite there, but much improved over the last few games. Shane Battier had a good shooting night. Striking early in the 1st, and in the third when the Heat made the initial run that separated the Heat for the night and went for 15 points. Ray Allen also scored some timely three's there in the fourth going for 13 points on 4/5 shooting

So know the Heat are 18-6 heading into the Christmas game, closing in on the Knicks for the top spot in the East, and looking pretty good to match up against the number one team in the league right now, the Oklahoma City Thunder. This puts my call to 3 out of 3 correct the last three games and perhaps its time to consider who will win the Christmas showdown.

The call

I'll do this in two parts. Right now there are 2 scenarios I can see playing out that I'll mention here and I'll make a pick a little closer to the game. At this stage we know that OKC at home with that home crowd is going to be LOUD this Christmas and we know the Heat are only currently 5-4 on the road. This will be a big challenge for the Heat and if their ready and bring the right energy from the beginning of the game I can see this as a statement game, winning the game between 8-15 points.
On the flip side though, if the Heat haven't got enough separation from OKC by the last 5 minutes in the fourth, I fear it could be a tough loss for the Heat on the road.

Either way it will be a good one. Merry Christmas to all!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Miami Heat On Track so far ? 2/3


Continuing my tracking of this small 3 game stretch for the Heat leading into the Christmas day Oklahoma City Thunder game, the Heat have now defeated the Dallas Mavericks.

The score was only a small indicator of the disparity in this one. The game ended at 110-95 for Miami but the game was well over before this point. Coming into the fourth the score was 91-61 and a Dirk-less Mavs didn't have the firepower to make a real comeback in this one with Wade and James sitting all of the fourth.

Stats

The offense looked good with Miami scoring at 53.8% from the field in the game whilst managing 25 assists on 42 made field goals, which is on track with the performance at the Timberwolves game. They won the rebound battle in this one, although still giving up 13 offensive rebounds and 18 turnovers, it was all a non factor. The 3 point defense was lopsided with the heat making 10-28 versus the 3-22 by Dallas (13.6%).

Once again, the 3 headed dragon of Wade, James and Bosh were very efficient going 60% from the field shooting 24-40 from the field collectively with each player playing 26, 31 and 35 minutes respectively. This is always the primary piece for the formula for the Heat's success.

The Call

This one was a very winnable one for the Heat and with that they move to 17-6 on the season and puts me at 2/2 so far for the 3 pre-christmas games called as mentioned in previous posts.

Next game. Utah Jazz. I still keep the call and have the heat on a 3 game winning streak heading into the christmas game at OKC. This one could be a close one with the Heat playing at home and Utah with no real stars in the lineup - which has been a dangerous scenario (surprisingly) for the defending champs. After the Jazz game I'll make the call on the Thunder game and see how things go.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Miami Heat On Track so far ? 1/3

A couple days ago in my previous post I predicted the Heat going on a 3-0 run on the season with the upcoming games against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Dallas Mavericks and the Utah Jazz.
Today's game was the first of that set of matchups, against the Timberwolves and the Heat pulled out this one despite the massive rebounding disparity, favoring the Timberwolves 52-24.

But Wade and LeBron and the help of 20 turnovers and +16 in the fastbreak points were the difference in this one. The offense was smooth with Wade driving at will and showing versatility on the block. LeBron facilitated the offense and with the team playing this way the team becomes hard to beat.

Other stats

The Heat had 25 assists for 36 makes shooting 52% from the 3 point line. This is a desirable ratio that we want to see from this team. In most cases when the 3 point shooting is this efficient, the ball moves more which is reflected by the assists and now multiple "triggers" as coach Spoelstra calls them, occur within one possession.
The Heat's defense showed up this game, especially at the 3 point line holding the TWolves to 43% from the field and 23.5% from 3 and recording 14 blocks. The key piece missing was the defensive rebounds horrendous and the Heat cannot expect this result with type of rebounding effort.
In fairness when watching the game, many rebound stat opportunities were actually missed due to the hustle from the TWolves that ultimately sent the ball out of bounds with the Heat retaining possession.

Notable

Norris Coles' on ball defense has been sharp of late and today was no exception. He made the speedy JJ Barea look like he was in quick sand, unable to burn him to use the penetrate and kick attack. That said, the Heat got  the good Mario Chalmers today scoring 12 points on 4/7 shooting.
It was a fresh reminder having Dwyane Wade show everyone why he's considered one of the best shooting guards of all time and best blocking shooting guard of all time showing explosiveness translating to 24 points and a couple blocks, one on Love on a dunk and one on Pekovic and throughout the game basically abusing Shved on the block.

The Call

Based on how things are lining up at this point I won't waver from the prediction of the Heat beating the Mavs on the road for this next one. We will follow up after this game and see how I stand with the 3-0 call. 
1 for 1 so far.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Miami Heat On Track so far?


The season so far has the defending champs at a 15-6 record through 21 games in this young season (11-2 at home and 4-4 on the road) With this in mind we ask ourselves, are the Miami Heat on track so far?

This is a relatively small sample size but seeing as we are about 25% of  the way in, it will be interesting to see how they stack so far.

The Heat are now second in the East and prior to the start of the season it was widely believed that the Heat would sit comfortably at the top of the conference. Alas, they are not, but this does not necessarily mean it is a bad thing for this team. So far the Heat have shown flashes of a well oiled offense and the potential for the combo of the shooting prowess of the team making space for the already difficult to defend, Wade and LeBron.

They key piece missing overall is the defense that we are accustomed to. As a fan, you would hope for your team to be tearing up every single game winning with an average of 20 points, but in reality the NBA is too good for such a feat to be expected. What I do like from the Heat season so far is the types of games (win and lose) that have occurred so far. This includes complete dismantling of teams and the offense running smoothly such as against Boston, Phoenix and the Hawks this year. To close grind-out wins, regardless if it was a sub .500 team or not (3 Ray Allen winners?). The Heat have also been on the other side of things, including two consecutive thrashings from the New York Knicks one very early in the season with a
barrage of 3 pointers, and the second time when Melo was out. They have also lost games in the clutch as well which are the types of games that generally have questions pop up about LeBron's clutchness (or lack thereof).

The reason that this type of showing so far has been positive is that there are no lessons learned from winning comfortably and never being challenged. Also, with the defense and lineup still being tinkered with, the Heat's 15-6 record is a strong showing for second in the East - this should not raise any alarm bells at this point considering the Heat haven't finished first in the East including their championship season. What we want to be seeing are these lineup changes and rotation changes even though majority of the team is still the same pieces. This still allows for coach Spo to have many more educated options when going with particular lineups against different teams.

New Pieces

In regards to the new pieces, they are performing close to what could be expected coming into the season. I see Ray Allen as performing slightly better than expected and Rashard Lewis performing slightly worse than expected (so far).

Position-less offense

The position-less offense is still a concept yet to be fully proven, but I do like the idea of it and believe there can be much success from it. Last year when this was incorporated against the Thunder it was very effective as was proven by the result of the season. Against bigger teams though it still needs some work - mainly in the defensive coverages. As the team is stocked with versatile defenders like Wade, LeBron and Battier to highlight a few, this allows the Heat to use this style of game. The offense is never stagnant and
the out of bounds plays have resembled a veteran team so far this season.

Overall

The season so far for the Miami Heat has largely been a success. The losses have kept the Heats' defense honest, exposing the tendency to lean on offense to pull out wins (so far). The team has come to accept this and are (in theory) putting in the works to exorcise this bad habit.

They have 3 west teams coming up in the Timberwolves, the Mavericks and the Jazz to thoroughly test their defensive adjustment. Look for the Heat going 3-0 for this stretch with closer games against the TWolves with the return of Ricky Rubio providing a spark and perhaps a surprising Jazz. We'll check back in after the Jazz game just before the Christmas showdown of a finals rematch against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Next week lets see if this prediction comes true and review whether they are still "on track".