Point Guard Problems
While all the focus has been on the boards for Miami lately, this is not their only weakness. Mario Chalmers may have been awesome against Sacramento with his ten threes and 34 points, but he needs to keep it up if he hopes to atone for the poor performance he and Norris Cole have provided from this position so far.
Our nERD rankings attempt to evaluate the contribution of individual players based on efficiency. This metric estimates how a hypothetical league average team featuring a particular player would perform over the course of a season. For example, a league average team that started Chalmers is estimated to finish 1.4 games below .500 because Chalmers has a -1.4 nERD score. Cole is even worse as he has an atrocious -8.2 nERD score, one of the worst marks in the league. He has been as bad as Dwyane Wade (8.0 nERD score) has been good.
As a point guard for the Heat, you have three jobs: hit open shots LeBron James and Wade create for you, don’t turn the ball over when you are asked to handle it, and play defense.
While Chalmers shoots fairly well with an effective field goal percentage of 52.2 percent, Cole is shooting with an effective field goal percentage of only 41.2 percent. Neither contributes much in scoring, as Chalmers and Cole put in only 10.5 and 8.9 points per 36 minutes, respectively.
Lebron does much of the ball handling for this team, so I won’t hold it against them that neither gathers assists and an impressive rate, but because of this, they should both take care of the ball well. This is not the case as turnover percentages of 18.8 percent for Chalmers and 18.9 percent for Cole leave much to be desired.
Chalmers is competent defensively. With a Defensive Rating of 109 and 4.7 more points per 100 possessions allowed when he is on the court than off it, Cole hasn’t added much value on that end either. Miami doesn’t ask much from these guys - no one expects them to shoulder the scoring load or run the offense – but there is still major room for improvement in their play.
Utah is a poor defensive team. They allow their opponents to score 106.8 points per 100 possessions, putting them firmly in the lower half of the league in this regard. They win games on the offensive end, where they rely on their bigs to get things done.
Al Jefferson, Paul Milsap, and company allow them to draw fouls consistently down low (No. 6 in free throws per field goal attempted) and grab offensive rebounds (No. 7 with 29.6 percent offensive rebounding percentage). In the last game against the Heat, they did both of these things better than the Heat, shooting more free throws and decidedly outperforming them on the offensive boards. This wasn’t enough to combat the awesome scoring force that is the Miami Heat as they shot an effective field goal percentage of 59.6 percent.
Utah fans who hope that the outcomes are reversed for this matchup might be rooting for Marvin Williams to stay hurt. While he is shooting efficiently from the floor with an effective field goal percentage of 50.2 percent, he has not been the man that the Jazz were hoping for when they traded for him. He’s on pace for career lows in usage rate, offensive rebound percentage, and defensive rebound percentage. This is also looking to be his worst season in assist percentage since his rookie year. On the bright side, his turnover rate and defensive rating numbers have gotten much higher this year, and his large contract is the one thing that remained consistent when he moved from Atlanta to Utah.