Merriam-Webster defines an X-Factor as a circumstance, quality, or person that has a strong but unpredictable influence.
You can also tack this definition on to the Miami Heat because they epitomize the essence of the X-Factor.
Their presence in the Eastern Conference is strong and unpredictable. Before the NBA suspended play in March, Miami held the fourth-best record in the conference at 41-24. Currently, they are within striking distance of the Boston Celtics for the third seed.
Given the circumstances and conditions of the reboot, there is no reason why the Heat can’t come out of nowhere and shock the league. If the Heat goes on a run during the reboot and carry that same momentum in the playoffs, look for these five X-Factors.
The Heat didn’t acquire SF Andre Iguodala for the regular season. They acquired him for the playoffs, and betting on him being a huge X-Factor in their success. His value on defense is priceless. He is a versatile wing that can guard multiple positions. Don’t be surprised to see him paired with Bam Adebayo in certain lineups and situations. A duo of Iguodala and Adebayo switching on opposing offenses, locking down the perimeter and protecting the paint would be scary for the opposition.
Iguodala will also fit seamlessly with what coach Spo wants to do . The six years in the Bay setting the table for Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson will serve him well in the second X-Factor to watch.
USE OF THE DRIBBLE HANDOFF
Miami leads the NBA in dribble handoff efficiency (1.06 points per possession) and frequency (8.8 percent over 9.6 possessions). The Heat’s MO for the DHO can be found in transition and in the early stages of their offensive sets. In this situation, they look for the high percentage shot. Preferably, whoever shooting and knocking down efficient threes.
Pay attention when the Heat snags a rebound, and throw an outlet pass up court. Passing it up court creates space therefore making the DHO tougher to defend. Why? because a quickened pace makes it tough for the defense to set.
Watch Adebayo specifically in these situations. Let’s say Jimmy Butler comes up with the rebound and Adebayo sprints up the court to receive the pass. Adebayo catches it and go right into the DHO with a well-timed pass and a backscreen. Opposing defenses will struggle here because the defense has to decide what to give up. A three or the paint. The third X-Factor should be feasting out there with the different ways the Heat will use the DHO.
Robinson is shooting 44 percent from three, ranking fourth in the league in three-point percentage. He takes 89 percent of his shots from behind the arch and have been assisted on 94 percent of his baskets. Robison is a classic spot up shooter that will be very effective in the offence. Remember the Heat’s proclivity to constantly DHO? Well, Robinson and his shooting is a big reason why.
Robinson leads the league with 3.2 points per game scored off of the DHO. Obviously, the Heat taking advantage of that will be a given.
Granted, Adebayo is one of the Heat’s main guys and in his first full season as a starter, he averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds per game. He was in the midst of a breakout season until the COVID pandemic hit. What’s worth noticing about Adebayo and his development is whether or not he added something in his repertoire over the hiatus. Imagine him returning with an improved mid range jumper and better handles? Defenses will have to respect that jump shot and pick and rolls will be a lot more interesting.
Coming off of a surgically repaired right knee this season, Goran Dragic was productive averaging 16 points and shooting a respectable 44 percent from the field, and 38 percent from the arc. In the reboot, Dragic will be a solid scoring option off the bench. What’s worth watching is how would his knee respond to the pressure and stress of playing eight games plus the playoffs in the bubble. The shutdown may have allowed Dragic’s knees to get some much needed rest, but the concern of re-aggravation is valid.