Oct 29, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guardDwyane Wade
(3) reacts after being injured on a play against the Washington Wizards during the second half at American Airlines Arena. Miami won 107-95. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
The Miami Heat have gotten off to a red-hot 3-0 start, but can they keep it up
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Although the Miami Heat have won their first three games by an average of 12 points, they have displayed glaring weakness that could hinder their championship run.
With LeBron James gone, Chris Bosh has demonstrated that he can revert back to the Toronto version of himself, and lead a team. However, Dwyane Wade looks far from the player that can provide consistent support for Bosh throughout a full 82 game season.
In his first game, Wade scored 21 points on 50 percent shooting, but 12 of those points came in the fourth quarter against a Washington Wizards team that was playing Garrett Temple in place of the injured Bradley Beal.
If the first game was any reason for concern, Wade’s second game should make Miami Heat fans nervous. In a game against the lowly Philadelphia 76ers, coming off of two days rest, Wade struggled to score off the dribble, shooting only three free throws, and scoring 9 points on 4-18 shooting.
Dwyane Wade’s shot:
If Wade continues to show clear signs of decline, head coach Erik Spoelstra will look to the bench to provide more scoring. Unfortunately, the Heat’s bench doesn’t have much to offer in terms of big-time scorers. The bench is averaging an uninspiring 28.3 points per game, with former-starter Mario Chalmers leading the way with 13.3 points per game. In spite of the impressive average for Chalmers, it is difficult to believe that he will continue to score at that pace, considering that his career high in points per game is 10.
Despite a weak bench and a seemingly fading superstar, Spoelstra still has the Miami Heat whipping the ball around and creating ideal offensive situations, with 65.2 percent of their made baskets being assisted on. Even though there is continuity on offense, the Heat have shown that they struggle finishing possessions off. For instance, only 36 percent of the Heat’s points have come inside the paint, meaning the most of their ball movement results in three-pointers and midrange jump shots.
Miami Heat shot chart:
In addition to a pedestrian bench and lack of inside presence on offense, the Miami Heat still have not found a solution to stopping opponents in the paint, a problem that has plagued them for years now. The Heat are tied for 26th in the league in blocks per game, averaging a negligible 3.0 blocks (and that’s with Wade’s two blocked shots against the Raptors Sunday). As well as the lack of shot blockers, the Heat also allows opponents to shoot 62.2 percent at the rim (through two games), which is second only to the struggling Los Angeles Lakers.
The defensive issues don’t stop with inside scoring; Miami also yields nearly 15 fast-break points to their opponents per game, despite being in the middle of the pack in terms of pace—96.29 possessions per 48 minutes.
Although the Heat have demonstrated clear offensive and defensive deficiencies, they are three games into a very long season and Dwyane Wade, as well as a myriad of players suffering from a variation of maladies, can bounce back and shore up holes on both offense and defense.
And with Wade, it’s all about consistency. Playing at a high level for 60-70 games this season.
With a battle-tested coach such as Spoelstra, the Miami Heat will make adjustments and continue to be an unselfish offensive team–they are currently second in the NBA in points created by assists per game with 59.5 per game (through two games)—and find ways to win in an enigmatic eastern conference.
*all stats provided by NBA.com
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