”I thought that was probably the most unselfish team I’ve ever played against since I’ve been in the NBA. It was drive, kick, swing, penetrate, flare, and they were hitting everyone. Even when someone had a good shot they would make an extra pass for someone to have an even better shot.”
This quote came from shooting guard Jared Dudley shortly after his Phoenix Suns were faced with the unfortunate circumstance of playing the Miami Heat.
Dudley was a first-hand witness to the Heat’s revamped offense, one that dropped 124 in a 25-point win over the Suns Monday night. It’s the third time the Heat have scored 119 or more points and they are currently leading the league in scoring at 111.8 points per game. A small sample size, yes, but it’s been evident and obvious in the first four games that the Heat’s offense is far improved from what we have seen in the past.
The Heat were nothing less than phenomenal in their ball-movement. Extra passes were constantly being made and open three-point shooters were converting their shots. The team that collectively shot a staggering 15-of-26 from beyond the arc received 3-of-4 shooting from Allen, 2-o-3 from James, 3-of-3 from Mario Chalmers, 2-of-5 from Rashard Lewis and James Jones converting 2-of-3.
Dwyane Wade, Norris Cole and Shane Battier each hit one. The Suns constantly couldn’t rotate quick enough to defend the Heat’s shooters. Every coach knows the scouting report on Allen and his players know the exact same thing too. Yet where did all three of Ray Allen’s makes come from? Where else but the left corner, the spot where he converted 57 percent of his shots from.
Allen also had six rebounds and six assists. Having another ball-handler, a veteran one at that, has done wonders thus far and it’s allowing the Heat to showcase another dimension to their offense. The Heat can run new plays and will always be ready to flash Allen in the corner because of the constant threat of Chris Bosh jumpers and drive, as well as the constant slashing of LeBron and Dwyane.
The defense? That will come. Adjustments will be made as the Heat continue to test out different lineups and rotations, in order to see just where the team can have the likes of Ray Allen and/or Rashard Lewis on the floor without struggling on the defensive end. Neither player are bad defenders, but they’re not the type of defenders that exactly fit into the Heat’s defensive system.
Miami’s defense strongly utilizes speed and athleticism to win games on defense, which makes it difficult for Allen and Lewis to keep up. In time, just like everything else dealing with the success of this team, it will all come together.
The Heat did a much better job on the defensive end with Phoenix as its test dummy for the night. Although they allowed 99 points–the first time all year the Heat allowed less than 100 points–the Suns only managed to convert 40 percent of their shots, while getting out-rebounded 49-38.
LeBron James led the way for the Heat with 11, recording another double-double with 23 points on 10-of-17 shooting to go along with only one assist and three turnovers in barely 30 minutes worth of action. Dwyane Wade dropped in an easy 22 points, most coming off of jumpers, an encouraging sign after seeing him struggle with his mid-range game in the first three games. Chris Bosh finished with 18 points, 16 coming in the first half, on 10 shots, four rebounds, two assists and two blocks.
Bosh paced the way for the Heat in the first half, who led 34-25 after one and by 55 at the half. He, as well as Udonis Haslem, were unstoppable in the pick-and-roll and were constantly getting near the rim for easy looks. In one sequence, Suns forward Markieff Morris could do nothing but hold Haslem as he attempted to slip another pick-and-roll.
Haslem’s jumper was off, but he had a strong showing with 12 points and five rebounds. The Suns are weak inside and Haslem did get just about every shot right near the rim and off of free throws, but it must be a confidence builder for Udonis to at least see the ball go through the hoop. He only had two points in the first three games and was reminiscent of the uncharacteristically inconsistent Haslem from last season.
It’s early, though, so let’s not jump to any conclusions of replacing him in the rotation with Joel Anthony, Dexter Pittman, or Josh Harrellson.
The Heat move to 3-1 and face the new-look Brooklyn Nets Wednesday.