For Miami Heat fans, the 2013-14 season has been a filled with plenty highs as well as some gut wrenching lows. From an incredible opening night win over Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls, to a shocking loss against the Philadelphia 76ers the following night. From long stretches in which they won games and appeared invincible, to humbling losing runs that made you question their title credentials.
Hell, even Chris Bosh has had doubts this season.
After losing 105-95 to the New Orleans Pelicans, Bosh was quoted saying: “We suck. We need to turn it around. There’s no passion. There’s nothing. If we don’t change this, we will be watching the championship from home.”
Yet for all the ups and downs they still find themselves atop the Eastern Conference standings. Though it has to be said, that’s primarily been due to the opposition choking rather than the Heat doing anything special.
While the reigning NBA champions had a very mediocre stretch of their own over the course of March, finishing the month with a 10-8 record and losing five of six games at one point, the Indiana Pacers (aka the biggest threat to Miami’s Eastern Conference title) went through an even rougher patch.
Indy went 8-10 in the month after a four game losing streak at the start, and the back end wasn’t much of a happier time either. The losses continued to pile on and that’s led to them losing seven of the last 10 contests.
Miami on the other hand seem to be getting back to their old ways having won four of the last five matchups. The defense has played a vital role and Erik Spoelstra’s team has looked more like the unit we’ve become accustomed to in recent years.
In the five games prior to the 122-121 double overtime loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Heat limited teams to no more than 84 points per game. In fact, they haven’t let teams reach the century mark in nine of the last 11 games during regulation and are second to only Chicago in opponent’s points per game with an average of 90 points over the period.
So after that kind of play, one can really blame Miami Heat fans for being optimistic about their team’s title prospects. Then again, they may want to refrain from readying the confetti because the teams they’ve faced in those games aren’t exactly offensive powerhouses – Minnesota (second-best offense – 106.9 ppg) and the Portland Trail Blazers (fourth best – 106.7 ppg) being the only exceptions.
The Milwaukee Bucks (94.9ppg), Boston Celtics (95.5 ppg) and Memphis Grizzlies (95.6) are all in the bottom five in points per game. Indiana and the Cleveland Cavaliers are also in the bottom 10, while New Orleans, Detroit Pistons and the Toronto Raptors sit in the middle of the pack.
Nevertheless, it’s a good platform to start.
Even though Miami boast the sixth stingiest defense in the NBA, the 97.4 opponent’s points per game is the highest of the Big 3 Era. Plus, all too often this year, we’ve spoken about the defense going amiss. They may get away with it, from time to time during the regular season, but the margin for error in the Playoffs won’t be as kind.
But this is the Miami Heat we are talking about and like we all know, they can easily turn it up defensively when they need to.
Tags: Miami Heat