Skip to content

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 NBA.com/stats, 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.

Latest Posts
  1. Stephen Curry drops Chris Paul with behind-the-back move (VIDEO)

    Apr 1, 2015, 12:50 AM EDT

    Stephen Curry, Chris Paul Stephen Curry, Chris Paul

    Curry just dropped the best defensive point guard in the NBA.

  2. Anthony Davis says James Harden should be MVP

    Mar 31, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT

    New Orleans Pelicans v Houston Rockets Getty Images

    Curry and Harden seem to be the frontrunners.

  3. Kevin Durant posts picture from hospital bed, thanks fans, “NBA brothers”

    Mar 31, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT

    2015 NBA All-Star Game Getty Images

    “Not what I envisioned coming into this season. But I’m here and ready to conquer this journey.” —Kevin Durant

  4. Shaq takes shots at Lakers, Clippers during Justin Bieber roast

    Mar 31, 2015, 7:59 PM EDT

    Shaquille O'Neal AP

    Which is easier to insult, the Lakers or Justin Bieber?

  5. Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell, Terry Rozier declare for NBA draft

    Mar 31, 2015, 7:20 PM EDT

    Northern Iowa v Louisville AP

    Harrell a potential lottery pick, Rozier a potential first rounder

  6. Celebrating the bond between Spurs, San Antonio

    Mar 31, 2015, 6:29 PM EDT

    Lupe Lemos Lupe Lemos

    It’s impossible to ever really define and entire large city in one bit of writing. But this story comes as close to defining the intricate relationship of San Antonio with the Spurs as you are going to see.

  7. Stop judging J.J. Redick by his Duke days if you haven’t already

    Mar 31, 2015, 5:38 PM EDT

    J.J. Redick, Avery Bradley AP

    Redick, who once looked like a bust given oversized expectations, playing big role for surging Clippers

  8. Phil Jackson asks Knicks fans to “remain optimistic”

    Mar 31, 2015, 3:44 PM EDT

    New York Knicks v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Knicks fans should be patient with this season. Optimistic… that’s a tough sell.

  9. LeBron says he’s ‘got three very good friends in this league,’ none play for the Cavaliers

    Mar 31, 2015, 2:59 PM EDT

    Lebrion James, Dwyane Wade AP

    LeBron names his three, and says after that he has ‘a bunch of teammates.’

  10. Report: Rockets’ Patrick Beverley to need four months of recovery following season-ending surgery

    Mar 31, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Patrick Beverley AP

    It had been hoped that Beverley might be available to return later in the postseason.

  11. Thunder say Kevin Durant underwent successful bone graft surgery, will return in 4-6 months

    Mar 31, 2015, 12:40 PM EDT

    Kevin Durant AP

    We already knew Durant was done for the season, but the Thunder have updated his status.

  12. Draymond Green no longer selling ‘Cool story, Glenn’ shirts, may miss next game vs. Clippers

    Mar 31, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    Draymond Green AP

    Green is trying to downplay rivalry with Clippers coach, and is dealing with inflammation in his shins.

  13. Kyrie Irving on his relationship with LeBron James: ‘I don’t want to say it’s not been rocky at all’

    Mar 31, 2015, 11:20 AM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    Things are clicking now in Cleveland, but it wasn’t that way at the beginning of the season.

  14. Flip Saunders (sort of) makes up with Jazz broadcaster after ripping him for saying Timberwolves were tanking

    Mar 31, 2015, 10:40 AM EDT

    Flip Saunders AP

    Interaction ended with a handshake, but it seemed evident Saunders remained displeased.

  15. Lance Stephenson receives DNP-CD in Hornets’ loss to Celtics

    Mar 31, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    Charlotte Hornets v Sacramento Kings Charlotte Hornets v Sacramento Kings

    Hornets were fighting for a playoff spot, but their big free agent acquisition sat on the bench.

  16. Kings considering shutting down DeMarcus Cousins for remainder of season

    Mar 31, 2015, 9:20 AM EDT

    DeMarcus Cousins AP

    Team has nothing left to play for, and Cousins has some nagging injuries.

  17. Jordan Clarkson hits game-winner to give Lakers overtime win over Sixers (VIDEO)

    Mar 31, 2015, 8:40 AM EDT

    Philadelphia 76ers V Los Angeles Lakers Philadelphia 76ers V Los Angeles Lakers

    Great win — except for the fact that it may help cost the Lakers their draft pick this summer.

Featured video

Clippers playoffs? MCW shooting? Your twitter questions answered.
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. H. Whiteside (6063)
  2. K. Durant (5339)
  3. D. Wade (5232)
  4. K. Martin (5119)
  5. K. Lowry (5022)
  1. G. Monroe (5018)
  2. D. Rose (4849)
  3. P. George (4694)
  4. B. Knight (4662)
  5. R. Rubio (4616)