The Miami Heat are 10-3, but it has nothing to do with the team’s prowess on the defensive end of the floor. Thus far the Heat are the league’s number one scoring offense at 104 points per game, but are the league’s 22nd ranked defense giving up about 100 points per game. What’s changed?
The Heat won in the NBA Finals last year with a consistent prescription of small ball. Bosh was often at the center position while Lebron played power forward. This type of lineup allowed the Heat to outrun the Oklahoma City Thunder while simultaneously enabling the team to negate any height advantage of the Thunder bigs. Naturally, since it worked in the playoffs, the Heat saw no reason not to carry its small ball lineup into the regular season.
In the playoffs, there are longer breaks between games, which gives players an opportunity to recuperate from a small-ball, “fast-paced” game. However, during the regular season, defense may become less of a priority if a team is trying to play fast paced all the time. But it is unclear if the Heat will be able to defend again when it matters if they don’t develop defensive consistency during the regular season.
One can also attribute their current defensive woes to a championship hangover. Perhaps the Miami Heat know what takes to win the championship, but simply aren’t putting in the effort right now because games in November and December are of lesser significance than games in May and June. Erik Spoelstra has vehemently denied such accusations, and insists that he will correct his team’s defensive woes. He has cited lineup configurations and new personnel not yet adjusted as more legitimate explanations. Still, any way you slice it up it doesn’t look good. Last year the Heat were one of the best defensive teams in the league and that’s why they won the championship. However, if the Heat continue to play this way, they won’t get the job done and successfully defend their title.