Understanding Miami Heat’s overtime dominance

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Miami Heat Jimmy Butler

Miami Heat Jimmy Butler (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

The Miami Heat have played two very good teams in overtime in the opponent’s house. They won both matchups. Here’s how they did it.

The Miami Heat have jumped out to a 15-6 start on the 2019-20 season. They’re playing very well on both end of the court despite a pretty hefty roster shakeup in the summer. Just how they’ll fare in the playoffs remains to be seen, but two particular victories they’ve earned this season are a positive sign.

The Heat have been tremendous in overtime so far this season. They won both of their overtime matchups, both on the road, by a combined 16 points. Even though this has only been 10 minutes of their season, it’s where they have played their best.

Miami is the only undefeated team in overtime among clubs that have played the five extra minutes multiple times. The two teams they faced weren’t bottom dwellers nor were they govering around .500: they’re teams with legitimate championship aspirations in the 19-3 Milwaukee Bucks and 15-6 Toronto Raptors.

Miami has earned these tough victories by playing remarkable defense. The only field goal they’ve allowed across both five-minute overtime periods is a layup from Giannis Antetokoumnpo. That’s it. Their opponents have shot 5.6 percent (1-for-18) from the floor, earning Miami a god-like defensive rating of 29.6, the best in the league — by far  — during overtime.

Each victory was different, but Miami’s basic outline for success is three steps: 1) put Bam Adebayo on the team’s best player, 2) everyone but Adebayo switches on everything on defense and 3) keep the ball moving on offense. Let’s walk through each overtime period in chronological order.

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