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What is going on with the struggling Miami Heat defense?

Nov 14, 2012, 7:50 PM EDT

Miami Heat's James celebrates win over Atlanta Hawks with Bosh and Allen during their NBA basketball game in Atlanta Reuters

If you haven’t been watching, if you didn’t look at the numbers, you could easily miss it because the Heat are 6-2 and Miami remains the city you are going to have to go through to get an NBA title.

But the Miami Heat defense has been bad this year.

They are 24th in the NBA in points given up per possession — 104.1 per 100 trips down the court (via Hoopdata). For comparison, last season they were fourth in the NBA at 97.1 per 100 possessions — seven more points per 100 is a big drop off. Teams are shooting a little better all and much better from three (38.5 percent this season, up from 36 percent last season).

What is going on? And should Erik Spoelstra or Heat fans be worried?

Not yet, Tom Haberstroh says at ESPN’s Heat Index.

For one, we are 8 games into the season and it’s too early to hit the panic button on anything (we’re looking at you, Lakers). Teams start slow sometimes on one end of the floor, even the Celtics did on defense last season.

But Haberstroh says the bigger issue is the Heat bench, and one particular bench guy in particular.

The dirty little secret is that the Heat’s starting lineup has been terrific defensively. According to, the starting lineup of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Shane Battier, Mario Chalmers and Chris Bosh has held opponents to 94.0 points per 100 possessions in 104 minutes of playing time. For reference, the Knicks lead the NBA in defensive efficiency at 93.6 points per 100 possessions….

When Ray Allen has been on the floor this season, the Heat have surrendered 109.0 points per 100 possessions. When Allen’s on the bench? 97.7 points per 100 possessions, or right about where they were last season.

It’s not as simple as “it’s just Ray Allen” but his ankle is not right and he is not moving laterally as well so his defense isn’t great. Plus it’s a new system with new players to adjust to.

Maybe having Joel Anthony out there with Allen at times can help — Anthony doesn’t bring much offense but he brings some defensive intensity the Heat have lacked with their second unit.

But that second unit is something to watch Wednesday night — the Clippers have the deepest bench in the NBA, with a backcourt of Eric Bledsoe and Jamal Crawford that have torn teams up. The Clips have a real advantage here and have been playing well this season — this is going to be one close game.

  1. captainwisdom8888 - Nov 14, 2012 at 7:53 PM

    Haven’t you heard, chalmers is too sexy to play d

  2. steelerfanforlife - Nov 14, 2012 at 8:08 PM

    Who cares??!!

  3. progress2011 - Nov 14, 2012 at 8:16 PM

    Well….What’s REALLY wrong, is what I said at the beginning of the season..

    .The Heat must get a legitimate 6’11” / 7’0″ guy to defend the paint, grab the boards and run the floor.

    They better package Miller, Haslem, Chalmers and some pictures with Riley or something to address the obvious gaping hole, in the middle.

    Haslem- Too little (smaller than LBJ) no hops, can’t defend any small forward or power forward on any of the contending teams.

    Miller- They got Ray Allen…no need for another 3 point specialist that can’t play D

    Chalmers – Not a true point guard and while he has some upside- he would be great bait to fill the need of a big man.

    Riley can pay me a smoooooth Million and I will gladly be a consultant !

  4. edweird0 - Nov 14, 2012 at 8:16 PM

    This article is waste of time. OKC was ranked the same this time last year and we all know what ranking they ended up with. Doesn’t matter how you start, only matters how you finish. Nothing to worry about here, move along.

  5. philtration - Nov 14, 2012 at 8:20 PM


    • edweird0 - Nov 14, 2012 at 8:48 PM

      Ahhhh, how I’ve missed your ignorance.

  6. 1972wasalongtimeago - Nov 14, 2012 at 8:21 PM

    Ray and Rashard are getting Miller and Anthony’s minutes. What did you expect?

  7. forthrightmc - Nov 14, 2012 at 8:48 PM

    This site has become the Johnny-Come-Lately of news. Everyone has been talking about this since their second game. Stick to stories about how pretty you think Mario Chalmers is or isn’t, seems more like your speed.

  8. lakerluver - Nov 14, 2012 at 9:13 PM

    What’s going on? I’ll tell you what’s going on! The “Heatles” are going to be “1 hit wonders”. Just like Dallas before them. The formula to beat them is size on the frontline. LeBron can’t guard a power forward for long stretches AND be effective on offense. They got away with small ball last season because the East stunk and Okc has no inside game.

    • miamatt - Nov 14, 2012 at 10:27 PM

      Two words: keep dreaming.

    • cramsinned - Nov 15, 2012 at 10:55 AM

      Worry on your own team dude. 3-5?

      1 of the 5 was under Clippers. Where were you when your team is losing?????

      Act your age man!

  9. bengzki - Nov 14, 2012 at 9:20 PM

    Miami in my opinion overly concentrates in offense when they shop around with free agency this season specially those players who can shoot it outside or in the perimeter.

    Even with their standards when it comes to big man is that they should have at least have a perimeter game like Josh Harrellson for example, and they forgot that bigs should also know how to defend at the same time.

    Joel Anthony has that but at the same time lacks the intensity, emotion or I guess the fear factor when opponents drive at him.

    Kenyon Martin is there, but still he is more of an offense guy as well.

    Maybe a Chris Andersen is a good option for the Heat because he has that passion when it comes to defense and at the same time he has the energy to pump a team. (If only he can get things straight with his life).

  10. deadeyedesign23 - Nov 14, 2012 at 9:34 PM

    “For one, we are 8 games into the season”

    It’s amazing that you could write a whole article and (correctly) discredit the whole thing with half a sentence. It’s 8 friggen games. THE KNICKS ARE GONNA GO UNDEFEATED! OJ MAYO IS GOING TO OUTSCORE DUANE WADE!

    • musilly - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:45 AM

      You hit the nail on the head. That’s a hall-mark of this blog’s style, but it can be found on every sports-news blog. There’s a tension between two things:
      (1) They have to write about *something*
      (2) It’s really early in the season, so what’s going on right now isn’t all that important
      So writers will write but undercut what they write. It’s the right thing to do.

  11. jerdogthompson - Nov 14, 2012 at 9:55 PM

    Fear not heat fans.

    Clippers will only beat you by 12 tonight even though their capable of a 25 point thrashing. Take solace in that cold blanket ladies……..and gentlemen.

  12. lakerluver - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:08 AM

    The Clips don’t have what it takes to beat them in a series though, jerdoggiedog. But Memphis, the Spurs and the LAKERS do. That is bigs that can score on the inside. All the Clips bigs do is dunk. I love Blake but he needs a go to low post move.

    • rtfinch - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:12 AM

      Who on Miami will stop them from dunking?

  13. rodge1 - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:32 AM

    Here we go again… Another season of Heat-haters making moronic predictions. Thank you very much haters, you make me feel better about the Heat with every stupid comment. Hating the Heat as much as you must mean they’re the best…. Go Heat!!!!!!!!

  14. jerdogthompson - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:36 AM

    Keep talking ladies. It only makes basking in the sun all the more satisfying. Yak-yak-yak

    Hay yo miamiat, were about 2/3 the way home on that 12 point beat. What was that, keep? Forgive me I’m suddenly having a case of minor amnesia.

  15. e39er - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:45 AM

    First of all it’s still early, secondly I believe that teams this year are built to beat the Heats…makes repeating that much harder

  16. rodge1 - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:53 AM

    You haters are great!… This is the third year in a row you brainiacs are making stupid predictions… As soon as the playoffs come around you’ll be crying about the refs. Keep talking

  17. jerdogthompson - Nov 15, 2012 at 12:58 AM

    Sorry to have to say this but looks like the upper end of my 25 point beat is in the making miamiatt. Oh wait, silly me I must be dreaming. That’s what you said.

    Just man up its one game dawg. Big deal. I got this one right. I too will have to come back and man up about being wrong at some point I’m certain

  18. paulhargis53 - Nov 15, 2012 at 9:10 AM

    lakerslurper, You’re lakers need to worru more about beating the sub .500 teams they are having trouble with than whether they who they will play in the finals.

    Boy are you going to be p*ssed when they lose in the 2nd round, and you have to leave PBT. Only about 6 more months of you’re bs.

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