The Heat have followed up embarrassing back-to-back losses to the Pistons and Bucks with consecutive overtime wins. While both the Magic and the Mavericks are pretty bad, and the Heat probably would have preferred to beat them in regulation, at least everyone’s per game stats now look slightly more impressive thanks to the overtime games. Tonight’s matchup against the Bulls presents a bigger challenge than their last few games, so the Heat will have to up their collective game if they hope to score their first regulation victory since December 26 against the Bobcats.
Who Needs Rose?
Even in the absence of 2011 MVP Derrick Rose, the Bulls have started the season quite well. On the strength of their fifth ranked defensive efficiency of 101.4, the Bulls are fifth in the East by our nERD team rankings. While it’s hardly the pace Bulls fans have come to expect over the last couple of years, it’s quite respectable for a team without its best player. They’ve accomplished this primarily by making it opponents take tough shots. With an allowed effective field goal percentage of 46.5 percent, the Bulls are the second best team in the league in this respect.
Bad Shots for Everyone
Unfortunately for the Bulls, they have been as bad shooting the ball as the teams that have played against them. Chicago shoots with a 27th ranked effective field goal percentage (eFG%) of 46.5 percent, the same number to which they hold their opponents. Even the second ranked offense and best shooting team in the league (54.7 eFG%) may struggle against this talented defensive squad.
The key player to the defense has been Joakim Noah. Not only is he the team leader in our nERD metric, but he has been KG-esque in his defensive impact this year. While Noah is on the court, the Bulls allow 98.7 points per 100 possessions, a mark better than the league-leading Pacers. When he’s off the court, the Bulls allow 111.1 points per 100 possessions, a mark slightly worse than the 30th ranked Bobcats.