3 Areas where the Miami Heat need to improve in the 2nd half of the season
- Here are three improvements that the Heat need to make following an excellent first half of the campaign
Following Dwyane Wade's retirement last summer, the Miami Heat appeared to be increasingly distant from a return to the playoffs. However, Miami's front office managed to pull off an unlikely sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butler, and the All-Star's arrival has completely transformed the direction of the franchise.
Despite the lack of a second superstar, Butler has elevated the individual performances of an increasingly young Heat roster - and Erik Spoelstra's team currently sit fourth in the Eastern Conference standings thanks to a 32-15 record. Miami has also lost just three times at home this season, and are well in contention to secure homecourt advantage for the postseason.
Nevertheless, while they have defied expectations so far this season, there is still room for improvement, and here we will take a look at the three areas where the Heat can improve over the final months of the season.
#1 Volume of shots attempted
The Heat's shooting accuracy has been excellent this season, and only the Utah Jazz are currently more accurate from the three-point range. Nevertheless, around 40 percent of their shot attempts have come from beyond the arc, and Miami is attempting a league-low 84.2 field goal attempts per contest. The Heat have often committed turnovers (more on that later) while waiting for an open man to appear on the perimeter rather than taking a simple two - and Miami could be in real trouble if their three-point accuracy decreases.
Butler is averaging a team-high 20.2 points per contest, although the 30-year-old is attempting just 13.3 field goal attempts per game - a number which pales in comparison to the other best offensive players in the NBA. Butler being more aggressive on the offensive end will help solve many of Miami's issues, although Spoelstra also needs to encourage his young roster to settle for shots inside the arc.
#2 Offensive rebounding
While not always consistent, Miami's defense has shown promise this season, and the team has excelled at dominating their own glass. With 36.6 defensive rebounds per contest, they rank fifth in the NBA, although Miami's ability to gather rebounds on the offensive end has been in complete contrast.
At 8.6 offensive rebounds per contest, only the Oklahoma City Thunder are averaging fewer, and while the Heat have increasingly looked to shoot threes, they still need to improve their ability to scrap for offensive boards. Admittedly, Hassan Whiteside
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's summer departure hasn't helped - and aside from Adebayo (2.5), Butler (1.9) Chris Silva (1.5), and Justise Winslow (1.5) - no other Heat player is averaging at least one offensive rebound per contest.
With the Heat unlikely to be active ahead of the trade deadline, Spoelstra will expect more from bigs such as Meyers Leonard over the final months of the campaign, while Adebayo also has the potential to further up his number.
The Heat are currently shooting 47.1 percent from the field, which puts them firmly among the most accurate teams in the NBA. However, despite their accuracy, they are posting a relatively low 112.0 points per contest, and this can be attributed to Miami's tendency to turn the ball over. Averaging 15.4 turnovers per game, the Heat are ranked 23rd in the NBA for giving the ball away, and out of the teams conceding more turnovers, only the Memphis Grizzlies are in playoff contention.
Opting against starting a traditional point guard, Spoelstra has relied on Butler and Bam Adebayo, although both are recording career-highs in turnovers. Collectively, the Heat got away with giving the ball up during the early months of the season, although they have now lost five of their past 10 games - and reducing the number of turnovers is an issue that Spoelstra needs to address before it costs them dearly in the playoffs.Published 31 Jan 2020, 21:51 IST