Miami Heat Lineup Observations

Top 3 5-Man Lineups with at least 15 minutes together (And not including Mario Chalmers)

  1. Goran Dragic-Dwyane Wade-Justise Winslow-Luol Deng-Hassan Whiteside
    1. O Rating: 114.4
    2. D Rating: 79.1
    3. Net Rating: 35.3
    4. Pace: 102.33
  2. Goran Dragic-Dwyane Wade-Luol Deng-Chris Bosh-Hassan Whiteside
    1. O Rating: 97.5
    2. D Rating: 100.8
    3. Net Rating: -3.3
    4. Pace: 93.96
  3. Tyler Johnson-Gerald Green-Justise Winslow-Josh McRoberts-Chris Bosh
    1. O Rating: 85
    2. D Rating: 104.4
    3. Net Rating: -19.4
    4. Pace: 95.49
  4. Honorable Mention with 14 minutes played: Beno Udrih-Tyler Johnson-Justise Winslow-Josh McRoberts-Chris Bosh
    1. O Rating: 110.8
    2. D Rating: 87.9
    3. Net Rating: +22.9
    4. Pace: 92.53

Not only does this team work together playing at a higher pace, they’re at their best playing small, with either Chris Bosh or Hassan Whiteside sitting out and Luol Deng or Justise Winslow replacing them.

No player in the starting lineup has a three-point shot worth respecting to the point that defenders have to be air-tight on them. Deng, Dragic and Bosh are all respectable, but opponents are more than willing to let them shoot from 25 feet out or further.

Even with Bosh shooting 37% from three, defenses are willing to give up that shot, as opposed to letting him drive.

The main issue that lies in the starting lineup is that a majority of the players in it can’t play to their strengths. Dragic can’t run with two big men (one being a traditional post big), Deng can’t cut when the paint is constantly cluttered, and even Wade finds himself limited on drives.

So far this year, only when the Heat run, and swapping out one of their bigs with Winslow, are they playing their best. Bosh and Whiteside as a two-man lineup feature a pace of 94.82, which is 17th out of 19 qualifying lineups.

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Meanwhile, the two-man lineups with the highest pace also happen to have the top two net ratings.

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Fortunately, there is a solution to the Heat’s Whiteside-Bosh woes, and it starts with Bosh. Whiteside can’t help that he’s 7-foot and a gifted talent in the post. Bosh, however, can help the fact that he’s shooting 36% in the 16-25 foot range.

Here’s Bosh’s shooting % in the 16-25 foot range over the past 4 years:

2014-15: 46% on 220 attempts

2013-14: 48% on 318 attempts

2012-13: 49% on 419 attempts

2011-12: 41% on 292 attempts

His current shooting problems from that area where he takes most of his shots is an anomaly, based on his career. Once that shot begins to fall, and his shooting percentage rises from a career-low 43%, then we can expect more positive results from lineups featuring Bosh.

There’s no question that the Heat will need it.

Bosh was banked on this season to once again be the main source of space on the floor, especially in a starting lineup, once again, featuring no pure three-point threats.

Miami can’t bench any of their starters. Not even Deng, who has not been the problem despite starting out the season shooting 33% from deep. They have no choice but to wait on Chris Bosh to regain his shot.

Because with an offense that currently ranks 4th in the league in points in the paint, Miami will get its opportunities to make open shots.

As a bottom-ten team when it comes to making those wide-open shots, however, and a bottom-five team in three-point percentage, they’re not capitalizing on defenses collapsing on the paint.

As long as that continues to happen, their points in the paint will continue to fall as more and more defenses give space on the perimeter and double-team slashers, as well as rollers in the pick-and-roll.

Top 3 2-Man Lineups with at least 150 minutes together

  1. Dwyane Wade-Justise Winslow
    1. O Rating: 110.9
    2. D Rating: 88.5
    3. Net Rating: +22.4
    4. Pace: 98.97
  2. Goran Dragic-Justise Winslow
    1. O Rating: 102.7
    2. D Rating: 84.8
    3. Net Rating: +17.9
    4. Pace: 100.93
  3. Hassan Whiteside-Justise Winslow
    1. O Rating: 109.8
    2. D Rating: 92.1
    3. Net Rating: +17.6
    4. Pace: 97.62

Bottom 3 2-Man Lineups with at least 150 minutes together

  1. Hassan Whiteside-Chris Bosh
    1. O Rating: 97.7
    2. D Rating: 101.1
    3. Net Rating: -3.4
    4. Pace: 94.82
  2. Chris Bosh-Luol Deng
    1. O Rating: 100.4
    2. D Rating: 101.5
    3. Net Rating: -1.2
    4. Pace: 97.01
  3. Dwyane Wade-Chris Bosh
    1. O Rating: 99.3
    2. D Rating: 99.4
    3. Net Rating: -.1
    4. Pace: 96.70

Other observations

  • Miami’s starting lineup is shooting 27% on 52 three-point attempts
  • The Heat’s best three-point shooting lineup: Dragic-Wade-Deng-Winslow-Whiteside at 36% on 25 three-point attempts
  • The Heat’s best 5-man lineup runs at a pace (102.33) that would be tops in the league

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  • The only other Heat 5-man lineup with at least 15 minutes that has a positive net rating features Chris Bosh, Tyler Johnson, Josh McRoberts, Justise Winslow and…..Mario Chalmers
  • Justise Winslow’s net rating (13) doubles that of any other Heat player; Tyler Johnson’s second at 6.3. The only Heat rotation player with a negative net rating is Gerald Green at -1.2
  • While the Dragic-Wade-Deng-Winslow-Whiteside lineup thrives and has already played 64 minutes, the Dragic-Wade-Deng-Winslow-Bosh lineup is a +2.2 with a pace of 114.97(!!) but has only played 8 minutes together
  • There isn’t too great a discrepancy in the Heat’s pace when comparing wins and losses: They run at 96.25 in wins and 95.86 in losses.
  • What is the greatest discrepancy, though?
    • Assist to turnover ratio; Wins: 1.52, Losses: 1.22
    • Reb %: Wins 52.8, Losses: 46.8
  • There is quite the discrepancy in home and away games
    • Net Rating: Home: +10, Away: -4.8
    • Pace: Home 97.20, Away: 93.38
    • Reb %: Home: 52.3, Away: 46.2

3 Things to Like and Dislike from the Miami Heat’s Preseason Opener

What to Like

The New Guys

Want a reminder of just how lacking the Miami Heat were in depth last year? Michael Beasley’s was this team’s second-highest scorer off the bench, following Mario Chalmers’ 10.2 PPG on 40%.

Michael put up 8 PPG. Trailing him at 7.3 PPG was Henry Walker, who shot 35%. In fact, if you go down the Heat’s bench, you’ll find that a lot of players have the same thing in common: They aren’t in the NBA anymore.

Outside of only having the minor task of having to keep the main core together, the front office also faced the cold, hard truth that a bench starring Walker and Beasley wouldn’t be much of a bench at all.

In come Gerald Green, Justise Winslow, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Josh McRoberts, whose spacing, passing, and athleticism were missed in a year where the Heat severely lacked spacing, passing, and athleticism.

The opener told us that we were dealing with a different caliber of players from last year. You know? Actual NBA players?

Before I get too ahead of myself, let me preface this by recognizing a few of these players’ fatal flaws that allowed them to have such inexpensive deals; Green’s defense and questionable shot select (although he probably could have signed a larger deal elsewhere) and Stoudemire’s defense and health.

Since Amar’e played 78 games in his first season with New York back in 2010-’11, he has missed at least 17 games in the past three years.

Until then, let’s just appreciate them for their strengths, which involve scraping their knuckles across arena ceilings.

I didn’t think I could go on much longer without watching an All-Star game on the Heat floor. These two, as well as Josh McRoberts and Justise Winslow, are freak athletes that will put on a show, for more reasons than one whether it be a Green windmill or a McRoberts no-look pass.

The four combined for 38 points and gave us a taste of what we can expect from the second unit; a fast game with four players that can handle the ball and will score in volume, but probably give up just as much. Even if Justise is the Ron Artest Dwyane Wade has made him out to be.

Offensive Creativity

Miami may have lost the war, but it won the battle in the paint, crushing a Charlotte team that was missing Nicolas Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Al Jefferson 40-18.

Miami also recorded 19 on their 30 made shots, 27 of which were two-point makes as the Heat stray away from the perimeter and put an emphasis on easy makes off of ball movement.

For a night, we saw the benefits of having multiple ball-handlers, a few of whom were newcomers: McRoberts and Winslow.

McRoberts brings an unparalleled brand of basketball. He won’t make a normal pass, but he can get away with it most of the time because he knows how to lead players and fool defenders because of his multi-faceted offensive repertoire.

Sounds like something you’d miss, right? You can find all of his behind-the-back passes here. My favorite is the last one:

Winslow, despite his shooting shortcomings, was touted so highly leading to the draft on account of his maturity. You saw it last night when he turned forcing a fastbreak layup, electing instead to pass it to a cutting Gerald Green, who made a layup and-one on an easier look than Justise would have seen.

Justise finished with three assists and zero turnovers in 28 minutes. Goran Dragic had a game-high six assists, while Mario Chalmers followed with three.

Bosh Return to Normalcy

Finishing with 14 points and 7 rebounds, Chris Bosh gave us no indication that he had not played basketball since early February.

Scoring on an array of post moves, driving lay-ins, and mid-range jumpers, Bosh looked all the part of the versatile, swiss-army velociraptor we’ve come to recognize him as.

His only real blemish of the night came when he back rimmed what would have been a nasty poster dunk over Cody Zeller.

Of course, preseason and starting against Marvin Williams can only reveal so much about Bosh. For now, however, we at least now know that he has not forgot how to play basketball.

What I Didn’t Like

Three-Point Offense and Defense

Miami entered familiar territory last night when it came to three-point shooting, yielding 12-of-29 shooting to a Charlotte team that ranked near the bottom in percentage last year. That robust shooting effort was met by a 3-of-16 bricklaying performance by Miami.

Green, Chalmers and McRoberts each made one.

Miami is going to stray away from the three-point line. As Ethan Skolnick has pointed out on his radio show, the Heat plan on being a team near the bottom in three-point attempts.

They’re going to create spacing without actual spacers, all of whom start the game by riding the bench. The starting lineup’s best shooter, and least reluctant, three-point shooters is probably Chris Bosh, who has only recently started shooting from three.

Dragic is a career 36% 3-point shooter, but you’d much rather have him driving or setting up a shot than taking what would likely be an isolation three. Seeing as you’d want him setting up shooters, rather than taking the shot itself.

Deng would like to move his shot selection further in, despite being 44% corner-shooter last year, as well.

Green is this team’s only gunner, leaving Mario and Josh McRoberts as your only other shooters. Passing needs to be heavily emphasized for this thing to work, as will be fastbreak points if this team plans on scoring along most teams that employ taking a massive amount of threes.

On the other end, Miami wasn’t exactly lacking in defense. Charlotte got a 3-of-4 night from Brian Roberts, 32% last year, a 2-of-2 night from Cody Zeller, he had made only one his two-year career, 3-of-4 from Kemba Walker, 30% last year, and 3-of-5 from rookie Frank Kaminsky.

In other words, the Heat got #ofcoursed. It didn’t take long for it to happen.

Justise Winslow’s Shot

It’s way too early, Justise is way too young, and way too talented to get too much flack for his jump shot.

But, even after a freshman season at Duke where he shot above 40% on threes, we may have to wait for the shots to start falling.

Confidence in his shot early on could have been an issue as a few shots came up not even close. He finished 0-of-3 on threes, and his two makes on a night where he went 2-of-9 were a driving layup and a fastbreak dunk, both of which were wildly impressive.

Justise will get his share of open looks when he plays with a second unit that can create space with four players who can run point and three who can stretch out to the three-point line.

Mario Being Mario

We should already know what’s to come. In only 16 minutes, we still got just about everything we’d expect from Mario.

Making a desperate three at the buzzer? You got it.

Stepping out of bounds before making a shot at the buzzer? Naturally.

Perfect pass on a pick-and-roll to Stoudemire for a dunk? That’s there.

Getting his layup blocked and having it lead to a Charlotte three? Of course.

Three points, three assists, one rebounds, two fouls, and three turnovers for Chalmers, who will move back to his natural point guard position. He had played some at shooting guard last year, throwing his game out of whack as he struggled with his identity.

His three-point shooting will also be a necessity. With the lack of shooters this team has, they cannot afford to have another year where Mario struggles to shoot 30% from three.

We can only hope the Law of Averages comes into play. Miami will need it.

Game 1 Recap: Stats of Significance in the Miami Heat’s Game 1 Win

Chris Bosh shot 2-for-8 on uncontested field-goal attempts

After a feverish rush wanting to get to the postseason, Chris Bosh’s Game 1 was forgettable, with the exception of a pair of three-pointers and a late block on Kemba Walker. He was 4-for-13 overall, was not looking for his shot, and didn’t take as much advantage of Al Jefferson’s injury as he should have. 

Expect the Heat to take note of that injury to Jefferson in future games this series. Bosh’s advantage of already being faster than Jefferson has grown exponentially, with Al being limited by a foot injury he suffered in the first quarter of Miami’s 99-88 win. 

Bosh will likely be more aggressive in Game 2, but should also have the benefit of not shooting 25 percent on uncontested shots. 

Dwyane Wade shot 6-for-8 on contested field-goal attempts

While Bosh struggled with his shot, Dwyane Wade was automatic with his. After sporadically missing 28 games this season, Wade had the look of a player capable of leading his team to a championship, as the team’s number two guy of course. 

He limited Gerald Henderson to six points on nine shots, while shooting 4-for-9 on jumpers beyond ten feet himself. He even hit a rare stepback three-pointer to exacerbate Charlotte’s deficit to 15 points midway through the fourth. He was everything you wanted him to be, if you were a Heat fan/coach/teammate, finishing with 23 points on 16 shots. 

With Jefferson being injured, and losing whatever agility he had, Wade, and the rest of the Heat, should be able to feast on Charlotte’s weakened interior. 

As for Charlotte, when it came to their percentage on contested shots, Kemba Walker struggled on 1-for-6 shooting, but did get 5-for-11 shooting from Gary Neal, and 3-for-4 shooting from Josh McRoberts. 

Al Jefferson allowed 67% shooting at the rim

Although the Heat were outscored 38-34 in the paint by Charlotte, they found a great deal of success when they were able to penetrate the Bobcats’ top ten defense. 

The Heat shot 6-for-9 at the rim when Jefferson was on the floor, but he was hardly any worse than his teammates. Josh McRoberts held the Heat to 60% shooting, but Bismack Biyombo allowed the Heat to make both of their field-goal attempts at the rim. 

Charlotte’s defense caused initial frustration for the Heat, with Miami scoring only 19 points in the entire first quarter, but it tapered off once the Bobcats had to go their bench. Watching Chris Douglas-Roberts attempt to guard LeBron James was cringe-worthy bad at some points, and Wade abusing Gary Neal and Gerald Henderson in the post was child’s play. 

Miami ended up with a significant advantage in the free throw attempts department because of Charlotte’s interior defense, and their incapability of providing the defense with a fortified second line. 

Ray Allen Saves Heat with 25 Points in Win over Houston


Do not take the Lord’s name in vain.

After months of blasphemy as a result of below-average play, Ray Allen has appeared to finally break out of the slump that has led to career-low percentages in his three-point shooting.

Allen boosted his three-point percentage on the season to 38 percent after a 4-of-6 effort from beyond the arc in Miami’s 113-104 win over Houston.

Ray dropped a season-high 25 points, just days after setting his season-high in points with 22 in the loss to Denver.

14 of those 25 came in a fourth quarter where the Heat needed every point. They scored 34 overall in the frame, with 11 points from Ray coming in the final 6:04.

When Houston appeared to be running away with it, following a three-pointer from James Harden that put the Rockets up five with 6:13 left, Allen came back and hit a three of his own to cut the lead back to two.

After Patrick Beverley hit a three to put Houston up four, Ray came back down and hit a technical free throw off a delay-of-game committed by Houston. Dwyane Wade would then hit a jumper to cut Houston’s lead to one.

That Beverley three-pointer, by the way, with 4:26 left was the last field goal of Houston’s night.

Ray would then hit an easy layup off a brilliant LeBron James screen and Dwyane Wade pass to give Miami a one-point lead with 3:31 left. Following a missed three by Jeremy Lin, Allen would, once again, hit a three, after pump-faking Lin out of his shoes, to give Miami a commanding four-point lead with 2:55 remaining.

Ray would go on to score one more point, a free throw off a technical foul on Beverley.

There’s a reason why I’ve refused to slander this season. Because even with the poor showings on both ends of the floor and the below-average numbers, you can still guarantee on Ray coming through when he’s needed most.

He’s now hit 20 of his past 35 three-pointers. He picked quite the time to get going. Now if only Shane Battier will follow suit.


Interview: Mario Chalmers Provides More than Meets the Eye

Went to a pair of Heat games, including LeBron’s 61-point outing (humble brag), and spoke with Mario Chalmers. We talked about his role in the pick-and-roll, being prepared for the NBA by Bill Self, and mentoring Norris Cole in this feature piece I did for Dime Magazine. 

LeBron James Gets Nose Broken By Serge Ibaka, Still Dunks on Him


In the same sequence, LeBron James revealed a human side along with the already-known fact that he is a cyborg created in a laboratory by government-sanctioned scientists tasked with creating the perfect basketball player.

It wasn’t until LeBron bled that we realized he was an actual human being. Actually, it was when we saw the blood that stained the Chesapeake Energy Arena was red, rather than the expected luminescent, glowing green, that we realized he was human.

The inhuman, man-beast part, however, occurred prior to LeBron selling an injury that was not even declared a foul, despite getting fouled by Ibaka at least twice on the drive.

No, it was LeBron capable of absorbing a rake across from the face from the 6-10, 245-pound shot-blocker, taking two more steps, and then dunking over the same defender who just broke his nose a few seconds before.

That was the part where we seriously considered if LeBron is either from another planet and goes around eating galaxies for nourishment or was constructed out of titanium and is capable of throwing tanks like the Hulk.

Oh, and he also went for 33 points, making it the fourth consecutive game with at least 33 points, on 22 shots in only 33 minutes. The broken nose forced him to leave the game with 5:50 left, preventing the opportunity of back-to-back 40-point games.

Michelle Obama Dunks on the Heat. No, Really.


It looks like the Miami Heat did more than hang out with the leader of the free world on their recent visit to the White House.

They also participated in a Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s move’ campaign, designed to get kids out of the house and actually moving more than just their fingers on their phone.

Little did we expect that a component of this video would feature Mrs. Obama dunking on a mini-hoop being held by LeBron James, as Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen act as if they’ve seen something that nobody ever thought possible.

It’s also a fair representation of the Heat’s recent defense. The FLOTUS was able to walk right down the lane and throw down while Wade and Allen were distracted.

I don’t think she falls into the category of #RSHK, though.