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Heat’s struggles against good teams meaningless come playoffs

Dec 6, 2010, 11:40 AM EDT

Miami Heat v Dallas Mavericks Getty Images

At some point, the Miami Heat are going to have to consistently beat very good teams to reach their goal.

That point is in May. Nearly six months from now.

Right now, the Heat’s much publicized 3-7 record against teams over .500 is pretty meaningless as a predictor of future success. The Heat team that takes the floor in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs will feel different than the one than takes the court Monday night in Milwaukee.

As Tom Ziller points out at SB Nation the Heat’s struggles are not uncommon. Right now the Lakers are 11-2 against teams under .500 and 2-4 against “good” teams over that threshold. Do you question if they will be good in the playoffs? Ziller then goes on to point out every team has a worse record against the good teams than the bad ones. Which is logical, it’s harder for everyone to beat good teams.

What has been the best statistical predictor of playoff success is point differential per possession — how much do you outscore your opponent by. It’s not perfect, but it is more accurate a predictive tool than anything else out there.

And the Heat have outscored their opponents by an average of 8.9 points per 100 possessions. Who is better than that? Boston (9.6), the Spurs (9.5) and the Lakers (9.4). Nobody else. That is pretty elite company.

And as Tom Haberstroh points out at ESPN, each of those teams brings back its core of the last few years. Those teams have their identities, their patterns for success that the Heat are just trying to figure out. It was never going to be simple to blend LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh together (especially with key players like Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem injured).

You don’t have to like it, but the fact is the Heat are elite. You can pick apart their record however you wish, but notice that the key indicators are all good and this team seems to be picking up confidence. They are very good now. They will be elite come May.

  1. hnirobert3 - Dec 6, 2010 at 1:55 PM

    As much as I agree with the “Heat have been together for 3 months, consider the regular season to be a tune-up to the playoffs,” comparing their potential even though they have a losing record to + .500 teams to the Lakers’ potential is insanity, consider the Lakers have a proven track record and the Heat are still working to figure things out.

    • lebronsinsecurity - Dec 6, 2010 at 2:21 PM

      100% agree! Obviously the Heat have unbelievable potential, the problem with comparing them to the Lakers as you pointed out, is the Lakers have a proven track record..The Heat are too new to judge them on anything else right now besides their record, which is meaningless since it’s only December..

  2. zblott - Dec 6, 2010 at 2:13 PM

    They’re #4 in the latest Power Rankings:

  3. hungrybear22 - Dec 6, 2010 at 3:45 PM

    During the first ring year for the lakers, they were actually really impressive and had a winning record vs the elite teams (boston, orlando, cleveland, san antonio, dallas) compared to the Cavs who had the worst record of all the contenders. I think that played out pretty accurately. The Lakers that year had something to prove having just come off a finals loss. I would attribute the Lakers record right now to coasting and fatigue, whereas the heat should have something to prove, and just aren’t getting it done.

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