Monday, January 14, 2013

Heat Returning to Championship Form

LeBron James, Chris Bosh Defense

Defense. That's where it all starts with the Miami Heat. And we've begun to see this team return to its high-energy, disruptive defensive habits in the past few weeks. It took them 35 games into this long 82-game season but we are starting to see Miami embody their 2012 championship form.

Want proof? Check out Miami's defensive stats in the past five games compared to their season average:

Season-to-Date Opponents Points Per Game = 97 points (15th overall)
Last 5 games = 89 points (3rd overall)

Season-to-Date Opponents Field Goal % = 43.5% (8th overall)
Last 5 games = 39.6% (2nd overall)

Season-to-Date Blocks per Game = 5.2 (16th overall)
Last 5 games = 7.4 (3rd overall)

We saw it in the Portland game despite Miami's loss to the Trailblazers. Miami was suffocating their opponents, seamlessly rotating on defense and forcing turnovers. It's no secret that the Heat is at their best when they turn their defensive stops into scoring opportunities. That's what we are witnessing as the league nears the All-Star Break and Miami bolsters their top spot in the Eastern Conference.

While we can expect a few more ups and downs throughout the season, we now know Miami still has their signature defense ready to be unleashed at any given moment. What matters most is that Miami stays healthy entering the playoffs. A great record is worth nothing if your team is banged up and not at their full potential in the postseason. Let's just say the Heat is good shape right now.

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