Miami Heat Stat Monkey Brief: Heat/Spurs (11/29/12)

Shane Battier has been the Defensive Glue Man, and Michael Ruemmele shows how the Heat could be in trouble if he doesn't play today.

Almost Blew It

The Heat are coming off a narrow win against a terrible Cleveland team that was missing the reigning Rookie of the Year. The way this game played out highlights a problem they’ve had all season: three point defense. Cleveland shot a sizzling 14-31 from beyond the arc in this game. Teams take a ton of threes against the Heat, around 24 per game. This wouldn’t by itself be a problem if they didn’t defend these shots so poorly. They allow a shooting percentage of 36.6% on these shots. This puts them in the lowest third of the league in this category. Combining these factors makes for plenty of opponent points from downtown. As has been the case for most of this 10-3 start, the Heat’s league leading offense was good enough to overcome a well below average defensive performance, with a True Shooting percentage of 64.5%.

Game Preview

Coming off an underwhelming outing against one of the worst teams in the league, Miami must now prepare to face one of the elite teams in the NBA. The Spurs are among the league’s best in both offensive and defensive efficiency and are the only team to display this kind of balance. It should be a competitive matchup.

Open Shots Galore
Miami’s defense might be even worse than usual if Shane Battier doesn’t play due to his knee injury. When Battier is on the court, the Heat have allow 103.3 points per 100 possessions. Lineups that do not include Battier allow scoring at 113.1 points per 100 possessions. This is the most dramatic split in a positive direction for anyone on the team and his absence could make this team’s defense truly terrible.

This game will likely feature some great ball movement, as both teams excel in this regard. San Antonio and Miami are 2 and 3, respectively, in percentage of possessions that end in assists.

It will be interesting to see how the rebound battle plays out in this matchup. Both teams are in the bottom five in the league in offensive rebounding rate and below average in defensive rebounding rate. Rebounds will occur at about the same rate that they do in any other game because, well, someone has to grab the missed shot eventually. Perhaps small ball Miami will look better on the boards than they usually do against a weak rebounding team.

From the Norris Cole high top fade and Udonis Haslem’s beard to Lebron’s well documented hairline, hair enthusiasts always enjoy watching the Miami Heat. Tonight, we get to see a side-by-side comparison to another team with fascinating hair. The Spurs feature Coach Popovich’s grays, Manu Ginobili’s bald spot, and Matt Bonner’s gingervitis. It will be a matchup for the ages.