Trouble in South Beach

Okay, who thought that the Heat would be a playoff contender with their roster this year? I am not saying because I like the Heat, but they actually have a very good team on paper. They have the attacking point guard in Dragic, the crafty veteran in Wade, a versatile wing scorer and defender with Deng, one of the best stretch forwards in Bosh, and the league’s best shot-blocker in Whiteside. Off the bench comes spark plug Tyler Johnson, veterans like Chris Andersen and Udonis Haslem, scoring machine Gerald Green, and Justise Winslow, who many thought was the steal of the draft.

Currently at 23-19 and sitting at #6 in the East standings, the Miami Heat have quite frankly under-performed so far this season. Yes, injuries and the fact that this team literally just got together over the offseason are factors, but those should have subsided by now. Instead, the Heat have lost 5 of 6 and are in the middle of playing 11 of 12 on the road. So why is this team that experts thought would challenge Cleveland in the East in the preseason struggling so much? I’ll tell you why.

First thing, Dragic and Wade need to figure out who is going to handle the ball and when. Both like the ball in their hands, but Wade is the better of the two when playing off the ball. Answer: Be like Mike and get in the post Wade! He is stronger than most guards and his ability to use fakes is unparalleled. Dragic is very good in the pick & roll, so use Bosh and Whiteside in that regard. You can also play them separately, having  Dragic playing at the end of the quarter and bringing in Wade to start the next one.

The Heat’s big weakness is their lack of shooting from the outside. This allows opponents to back off of defenders and pack the paint, which in turn neutralizes Whiteside’s offensive rebound capabilities. Green is a streaky shooter, but is not consistent from the arc. Same thing goes for Johnson and Deng. The answer is that Pat Riley needs to find some shooters in free agency. Ben Gordon would be a great choice. If the Heat can get a shooting specialist, then they will be a better team.

Lastly, the Heat need to play more up-tempo. And don’t say that Wade can’t do that. They have the personnel to do so with all of those slashers. If they do this, they can outrun most teams in the slower-paced Eastern Conference. Erik Spoelstra is very good at playing fast as we saw in Miami 2012 and 2013 championship seasons.

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