The Miami Heat’s 2-3 zone is giving certain teams fits.
Sometimes a simple solution is also the most effective in a complex NBA season.
Whether it be a matchup substitution or a defensive game plan, many times the obvious answer is in plain sight.
The Miami Heat stifled the Philadelphia 76er’s on Wednesday thanks in part to a seldom used zone defense, at least in today’s NBA.
We all know the Heat do things differently, most of the time it works out.
— Tom Moore (@TomMoorePhilly) December 19, 2019
Catching professional coaching staffs by surprise is often a challenge, but occasionally an outside-the-box strategy can yield great results.
With a short rotation due to injuries, Miami Heat head coach Erik Speolstra has needed creativity as an ally.
The zone defense is particularly effective against teams that lack elite outside shooting.
Philadelphia fits that bill in the sense of volume, they take the fifth fewest three-point attempts in the league.
They shoot a decent percentage (36.2) but are streaky at that range.
We all know one guy that opposing defenses will gladly allow to launch from beyond the arc.
He probably can’t shoot from there either. https://t.co/wHYOG8RI0v
— David Eversole (@SportsWaveDave) December 20, 2019
The zone is nothing new to the Heat as they have employed this season, but in live game action on the fly it can be effective.
Philadelphia shot just 12-for-39 (30.8%) from deep and did not attack the zone effectively with Joel Embiid until it was too late.
Miami has the athleticism to defend inside-out and crash the defensive boards, the Heat out-rebounded the 76ers 56-47.
Josh Richardson was just 3-of-10 from three-point range and Tobias Harris 2-of-6.
Philadelphia coach Brett Brown countered late with Furkan Kormaz (2-of-3 from 3pt) but it was not enough.
The Heat, per Second Spectrum, ran more zone defense last night than any team has in any game this season. It resulted in the Sixers losing their first home game of the season. https://t.co/YoOjhyOIny
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) December 19, 2019
Teams will try to replicate the Heat’s formula against Philadelphia and similarly structured teams.
Like Dallas did in their 117-98 blowout to give the 76ers their second straight home loss.
Once again Philadelphia struggled from three-point range, this time converting just 10-of-34 (29.4%) attempts.
Miami has employed the strategy mostly out of necessity, it is not their ideal defense by any stretch.
How long it continues will be dependent on factors such as player availability and matchups.
It also protects players such as Bam Adebayo from foul trouble as there are three players on the baseline to pack it in.
Miami again employed the zone for stretches in their 129-114 win Friday, New York also put up a 10-for-34 mark from deep.
As long as the opponent complies and the bench is short, we may be in the zone for a minute.