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Miami Heat Need the Three Against Knicks on Sunday

The Miami Heat need to shoot better from deep on Sunday.

The Miami Heat are set to take on the New York Knicks in what is going to be a bounce back game for Miami. One thing is for certain: If the Miami Heat want to beat the Knicks on Sunday, they need to be more efficient from three-point range.

In Friday’s loss against the Brooklyn Nets, Miami struggled from deep. They went seven-of-29 from beyond the arc. By comparison, the Nets went 15-of-44 from deep. That equaled out to a 34.1 three-point percentage.

The starting lineup was not efficient shooting the three ball. Duncan Robinson was the most productive for Miami. He went two-of-six from beyond the arc, finishing with eight points on the evening.

Interestingly enough, the bench did a bit better with their opportunities. James Johnson went two-of-two from beyond the arc and finished with six points in 12 minutes of play. Goran Dragic had a rough evening, going two-of-seven from deep.

The numbers bode well for Miami Heat

The three-point shot is undoubtedly the bread and butter of Miami’s offense. They are second in the league in three-point conversion percentage. Shooting at a 37.6 % rate, that puts them only second to Utah.  Over their last three games, they have been pretty consistent with the shot, shooting at a 36.9% clip.

New York is last in the entire NBA in opponent three-point field goal percentage. Their opponents have been converting at a 38.8% rate.  Things haven’t been much better for them over the past three games. They have been susceptible from long range, allowing opponents to convert on 43.6% of their tries. This is great news for Miami, and should allow for plenty of good looks for the shooters.

If Miami wants to beat New York on Sunday, getting more production from the starting lineup is crucial for a victory. This team plays much better when everyone contributes.  Miami needs to make sure they convert from beyond the arc, and put behind the poor performance in Brooklyn. If they can do that, a win is certainly in their future.

Not an Easy Road: Tough Times for Heat Away from Home

The Miami Heat are 27-11 overall, but just 10-10 away from home after Friday night’s loss at Brooklyn.

In the Magic City, the Miami Heat have been just that with a 17-1 record.

Their only loss at the American Airlines Arena this season came December 13th to the Lakers.

However, away from Biscayne the Heat are treading water with a .500 record.

For the Heat, like any team, a breakeven line away from home should be a respectable standard.

Yet when looking at the road losses through the lens of individual performance, some trends emerge.

 

Brooklyn had lost seven games in a row before Miami came to town.

The Heat had the lowest point total in an NBA quarter in over two years (6) at Orlando just over a week ago.

Miami was beaten by 18 against a Washington team without Bradley Beal to close out 2019.

Their average margin of defeat in their 10 road losses is over 15 points per game.

Brooklyn only defeated Miami by four points, the Heat’s closest road loss of the season.

Yet something was missing in a game where the Heat scored 69 points in the first half.

 

The Heat have lost three road games by at least 20 points, including the 113-86 dismantling at Philadelphia in late November.

Cold shooting away from home has not helped, the Heat shoot about 3-percent better from all areas at home.

This is itself is not a cause for concern, teams often struggle on offense away from home.

Thankfully defense typically travels for the Heat, which has kept them in games.

The offensive rebounding must improve to give the offense second-chance opportunities.

Miami ranks 28th in the NBA on the offensive glass and have been even worse in January.

Not coincidentally the Heat rank 27th in second chance points league-wide.

Brooklyn crushed Miami on the boards overall (56-43) and in offensive rebounds 14-4.

 

Between offensive rebounding and turnovers, the Heat are losing too many possessions.

Miami is allowing 18.9 points per game off of turnovers, also 27th in the NBA.

Their next opponent is the New York Knicks, who are just 10-29 overall and 5-13 at Madison Square Garden.

Like Brooklyn, New York is mired in a losing streak of their own with five straight.

New York has some ways to counter the Heat and should not be overlooked.

The Knicks lead the NBA in offensive rebounding at over 12 per game and are a top-10 rebounding unit overall.

Those offensive rebounds have led to the Knicks actually being third in the NBA in second chance points.

Miami has to be better on the glass and take care of the ball, or they can fall into another trap game.

Getting back to the fundamentals on the road could be an easy recipe for improvement.

New York provides the perfect opportunity in what is now a more intriguing matchup than anticipated.

Handicapping the Miami Heat’s 3-Game Trip

The Miami Heat are playing great basketball. It feels almost like a return to the days of old,  back when the Big 3 were in town, even if they don’t have the front line starpower.

 

Now, the Heat are healthier than they have been — with Jimmy Butler and possibly Justise Winslow returning — and are firmly entrenched in the top three, we a two-game lead on the No. 4 Toronto Raptors and a full three games on the Philadelphia 76ers, who had fallen into a terrible slump prior to beating Oklahoma City.

 

After a five-win stretch, which included sweeping their 4-game home stretch against the Knicks, Jazz, Indiana, and Sixers, the Heat have gone lose-win-lose-win over their last four. They have the Indiana Pacers coming up again on Wednesday in Indiana, and then a trip to New York brings aways games against the Nets on Friday and the Knicks on Sunday.

 

It’s funny because the Heat has beaten Utah, Indiana, Philadelphia, and Toronto since December 23rd, and still the power rating algorithms are a bunch of haters. Miami is No. 3 in the NBA standings and beat these teams, but still, the predictive power ratings have them rated back at No.11. Toronto is rated at No. 7, Philly is rated at No. 9, and Utah is rated at No. 10. Ok. So what gives?

 

I guess the Heat will just have to go and beat these teams – and other top teams – again and we’ll see if they get any love in the power rankings.

 

Heat vs. Pacers | Wednesday 7 PM ET @ Bankers Life Fieldhouse

 

The Indiana Pacers just lost to the Heat in Miami, but now the boys have to go and prove themselves up in Indiana. Both teams are good on defense. The Heat allows just 107.28 and the Pacers let 106.16 points by per game. On offense, Miami puts up 111.11 against Indiana’s 109.46. So, on any given night, these two teams are very evenly matched.

But the Heat’s road offense is scoring around five points fewer per game than their overall average. Out on the highway, they score 106.17, which is the No. 21 road offense. The Pacers put up 111.21 per game at home which is the No. 18 home offense. Home vs. Away defense shows the Pacers improving to 104.7 points per game allowed, and the Heat falling to 110.11.

 

So, we could see the Pacers coming in as significant home favorites on the NBA odds offered at sportsbookreview.com. If the point differential is any indicator, we could technically see a spread of around 10 points. However, I would expect the handicappers to go with straight-up averages and cap this game out to be around 105 for the Heat and 111 for the Pacers.

 

If this is the case, and the point spread is set with the Heat +6, hop on it because they very well could win this one outright.

 

Heat vs. Nets | Friday 7:30 PM @ Barclay’s Center

 

Since we have already gone over Miami’s road stats, we’ll just stick with Brooklyn here. The Nets put up 109.63 per game at home, which falls right in line with Miami’s defensive numbers. So, that is the score we should expect from the Nets; roughly 107 to 109. However, they are not as good on the defensive front as the Pacers and allow 109 and change to go up on the visiting team’s scoreboard in Brooklyn. This one should come down to a pretty close game, but the personnel matchup favors Miami. Remember, we beat the Nets in Brooklyn last time around, 109-106. I predict a similar outcome in for this meeting.

 

 

Heat vs. Knicks | Sunday, 3:30 PM @ Madison Square Garden

 

The Heat have beaten the Knicks in seven of the last 10 meetings in the three most recent, the Heat have smoked the Knicks 3-0 by an average score of 111.67 to 101. The last time these two played was on December 20th when Miami smashed New York 129 to 114.

 

The Heat might not get the road sweep. But they very well might. I think they at least go two of three for the remainder of the week. They’ll keep their win ratio rolling and stay at the top of the Eastern Conference.

 

Attrition may Have Uncovered Potent Lineup for Heat

A potent lineup for the Heat may have revealed itself.

The Miami Heat have somehow managed to maintain course despite crucial injuries to Justise Winslow and Goran Dragic.

 

Miami has started to show some vulnerability, as evidenced by their first truly bad loss of the year at Memphis.

Jimmy Butler needs a break.

However the team once again found enough gas Wednesday to end Philadelphia’s undefeated run at home.  The common denominators for most Heat lineups lately have been Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Kendrick Nunn.  That trio has been in the top three lineups for Miami in terms of minutes per game, with Duncan Robinson and Meyers Leonard rounding things out.

Switching to Airplane Mode

One intriguing combination has been to bring in Derrick Jones Jr. for Meyers Leonard early and late.  Leonard typically opens each half but has not been utilized much, if at all down the stretch.  Jones, Jr. has been seeing a huge increase in minutes recently due to several factors, including the razor thin rotation Erik Spoelstra has to work with.  That faith has been rewarded as Jones continues to carve out a more significant role.  Over the last seven games, DJJ is averaging nearly 30 minutes per game and is starting to feel it from downtown.  He is 6-for-13 in his last four games and has scored in double figures three times in that span, while his defense has also made a huge impact.

 

The lineup featuring Butler/Jones, Jr./Adebayo/Robinson/Nunn has been used in just three games going into Wednesday.  Yet in that limited sample the numbers have been encouraging and perhaps worth a look.  Rebounding is a legitimate concern without a second traditional big however, time will tell how the scales balance in that aspect.

 

Butler has been all that Heat fans could have hoped for but is exerting a ton out there. He struggled in his latest return to Philadelphia and is logging a Thibodeau-ian amount of minutes lately.  Butler is playing almost 39 minutes per contest in December which is nearly six minutes more than his career average. His 26.3 usage rate this season would be the second highest total of his career if maintained.

While DJJ has been a key cog in the wheel, the emergence of Adebayo is what has held things together.  The reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week has continued to carry the load on both ends.  Adebayo is the anchor, not only on defense but from the high post where his skill set shines.  Bam is averaging 18/11/5  in December and his ability to finish on the pick-and-roll, or run things from the top, has kept defenses off balance.

Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson have been inconsistent but when they are on, they give this group the scoring from the perimeter it needs.  Nunn erupted for 26 points at Philadelphia and has hit half his three-point attempts on this road trip. If he can start making the easy plays and distribute the ball, expect another nice progression from the rookie.  Meanwhile, Robinson has been feast-or-famine, but when he’s eating the whole offense changes.  He has become a comfortable second option on the perimeter when the initial action doesn’t hit, while doing just enough on defense.  Robinson is shooting over 47% from deep this month and is getting almost six minutes more per game.

The lineup is shooting 59.6% overall and 52% from deep, while averaging a 3.6 assist-to-turnover ratio.  On the opposite end they are holding opponents to just 40% shooting, including 26.5% from beyond the arc.  Conversely, they are 6.5 points better overall than the opponent so far.  Perhaps that is why they were the “Five on the Floor” to close the game out in Philadelphia.

When Dragic (and Winslow?) return, it will likely shake up the backcourt rotation once again.

For now, we may be seeing this group again when it counts.

Marc Stein on Pat Riley: “I won’t doubt him again”

The newly-minted Basketball Hall of Famer, Marc Stein — long of ESPN and now of The New York Times — joined the Five Reasons Sports flagship on Thursday to discuss the NBA playoffs, NBA player movement, the Miami Heat and Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade.

You can find the full episode here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/marc-stein-on-nba-playoffs-riley-wade-dirk/id1336060206?i=1000435259473

Here are some highlights:

On Pat Riley…

 

On Kevin Durant and the New York Knicks….

 

On the Miami Heat’s trade for Jimmy Butler falling through with the Minnesota Timberwolves….

Pressure on Heat veterans tonight in NYC

This should be easy.

The Knicks are intentionally awful, worst in the East at 14-61, and arguably the worst franchise in the East over the past five years.

But, with the Heat missing Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson and Rodney McGruder — and having struggled against some of the NBA’s worst teams already — nothing can be taken for granted.

Simply, they need to get something of significance from three of the highest-paid veterans on the roster: Hassan Whiteside, Dion Waiters and James Johnson.

The good news is Waiters has been a little better of late, averaging 20.3 points in his past three games, with reasonable efficiency.

The Heat had a short morning shootaround in Manhattan and John Kozan of Miami Heat Beat was there to cover it (and take the photo above).

Tip is at 7:30 p.m.

Follow @5ReasonsSports and @MiaHeatBeat for more coverage.