The Scouting Report: Miami Heat

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Projected starting line-up:¬†Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh, Chris “Birdman” Anderson

Key departures: LeBron James, Ray Allen

There have obviously been some major changes to the Miami Heat since the Blazers and Heat met last season. After making it to the NBA Finals for four seasons in a row, LeBron James went home to Cleveland and the Heat had to re-group. They signed Chris Bosh to a max deal which kept him from going to Houston and Dwyane Wade also re-signed.

Marco Romo, a big Miami Heat fan and basketball twitter homie, talked about the Heat this season on the latest edition of the Blazer Banter podcast. (We also talked about the potential of the ball spontaneously combusting in Oklahoma City with Dion Waiters and Russell Westbrook on the same team.)

Wade has been revitalized this year and is the team’s leading scorer at 23 points per game. He and Bosh have each missed some games but those two have kept the Heat in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

The Heat are currently 8th in the Eastern Conference and would be in the playoffs if they started today. They got a decent win against Brooklyn to break a four-game losing streak after notching a Christmas Day win in LeBron’s return to South Beach.

Although “pace and space” has been a mantra for the Heat under Erik Spoelstra the last few seasons, the Heat have played at a very slow pace. They currently rank dead-last in possessions per game.

Mostly because of Wade’s ability, they are one of the best teams in the league at getting to the free-throw line at the third-highest rate in the league. Their defensive philosophy is to try and make other teams make mistakes by pressuring them in the pick and roll. Most teams have a more conservative philosophy and the Heat like to trap.

But that doesn’t apply big man Hassan Whiteside who usually drops back by the free-throw line on pick and rolls. Or at least that’s what he was doing in Sunday’s game against Brooklyn.

The hope with Whiteside is that he brings them a credible back-up center but the sample size is still very small on his play though he did look good against the Nets. Rookie James Ennis has also gotten some playing time recently. Rookie point guard Shabazz Napier hasn’t played a lot of minutes yet this season and was recently sent to the D-League.

The Blazers didn’t have a great outing against the Lakers, who played with confidence and Jordan Hill got hot from the midrange. Defensively, Bosh and Wade will be a much tougher challenge than the Lakers presented.

After game two without Freeland and Lopez, we should have a better idea of how they will be able to navigate the next few weeks before they get Freeland back in the line-up.

Kaman is probably going to start tonight. But Bosh’s shooting is going to stretch the Blazers out and many of their big men shoot from the outside.

The Heat aren’t a very good rebounding team and the Blazers didn’t look very good on the glass against the Lakers. It will be interesting to see if Portland’s younger bigs, Kaman and Aldridge can exploit a major Miami weakness.

 

Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen is the Trail Blazers beat reporter for The Columbian. He's a graduate of the Allen School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon in addition earning a degree in Spanish. He's covered the NBA for four seasons. You can also occasionally find his work on ESPN.com's NBA section for their TrueCities series. He also fist-bumped with Kanye West once. Follow @BlazerBanter on twitter for more Blazers and NBA news.

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