Heat Stat Monkey Brief: Heat-Clippers (11/14/12)

Michael Ruemmele takes a look at which Miami lineup has been the most efficient this season and more.

Fun With Lineup Stats

Now eight games into the season, Miami’s offense is looking spectacular with an offensive efficiency (for an explanation, see our glossary) of 113.6, good for second in the league behind the Knicks. However, the defense still has not gotten into the championship form we saw this summer. They have allowed 108 points per 100 possessions, one of the worst marks in the league. Looking the efficiency numbers for the lineups most used this season, we can start to identify the possible source of the problem. Insert your favorite phrasing of the small sample size disclaimer here.

Miami’s most used lineup this season has been the one that starts games: Chalmers, Wade, Battier, James, Bosh. As one might expect from last year’s champions who are off to a hot start this year, their starters are quite good together. They have an offensive efficiency of 115 and a defensive efficiency of 94. Five of the six most used lineups by Miami so far this season have scored more points than they have allowed.

The exception is the third most used lineup, accounting for 22.8% of play so far. This unit of Chalmers, Allen, Battier, James and Bosh still scores at a great rate of 120 points per 100 possessions but have a horrific defensive efficiency of 122. Opponents against this lineup have shot with an effective field goal percentage of .588. This could just be a blip that will even out as the season progresses. Each player is involved in other lineups that defend effectively, so no one player can be singled out. However, it will be worthwhile to see if this lineup is used as often and whether they improve going forward.

nF's Keys to the Game

A Tough Matchup - Miami’s next opponent is Clippers. By our nERD ratings, a win over this squad would be their most difficult victory yet as they have lost to the only other teams at least this highly ranked in the Grizzlies and the Knicks.

Turnover Battle - Miami takes care of the ball, turning the ball over on only 12.6% of their possessions – the fifth best mark in the league. The Clippers allow turnovers on 16.2% of their possessions, making them the third worst team in this regard.

Guarding Guards - The positional matchups will also be important to watch. So far this season, the Heat have allowed an effective field goal percentage of .531 and .588 against point guards and shooting guards, respectively. According to the nERD rankings, the Clippers have the second best point guard in Chris Paul and the number three shooting guard in Jamal Crawford. Miami may struggle against one of the best backcourts in the league.