Monday, February 16, 2009

Miami Heat Look to Rise Above Fourth Quarter Woes

So it's the midway point of the season and the Miami Heat are looking to continue their success (maybe in a less sporadic fashion) with a revamped roster in Jermaine O'Neal and Jamario Moon. One area in which the Miami Heat are looking to improve is in the fourth quarter. Many of you who know Dwyane Wade know that the fourth quarter is his quarter. Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case this season for him and the Miami Heat.

Over the course of the last four games, prior to the All-Star weekend, the Heat had a record of 2-2. In those games the Heat have been outscored in the fourth by an average of 9.3 points. Most notably they were outscored by 16 points in the late-game collapse versus the Philadelphia 76ers. Not to mention, they've allowed their opponents to score an average of 28.8 points in the fourth as well.

So this brings us to our next question: What needs to be done in order to address this issue and to close the recent gaps in fourth quarter scoring.

Obviously, defense is the first focus, but it's a little more complex than that. The team has become lax in the final twelve minutes of games seemingly because of fatigue, which leads to allowing open shots and missing easy rebounds. On the offensive side of the spectrum, there needs to be better shot selection. Player's need to set better screens, get in better position, and finally make the damn shot.

The good thing is that despite the horrible fourth quarters the Heat have played, they came out with a .500 record after the four games and an overall record of 28-24. We must now wait and see how Erik Spoelstra uses his added height in O'Neal and Moon to bring rebounds, presence, and energy to the team and avoid the fourth quarter woes in the second half. I'm sure we will begin to see more rebounds racked in by the Heat and more blocked shots as well. That in itself should ensure lower opponents points per game and increase shot opportunities. Let the second half be a healthy and productive half for the Heat as they make a playoff push and hope to capture that 4th or 5th seed in the Eastern Conference.

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