Mar. 3, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) and Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) wait for a rebound during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Miami won 99-93. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Teams That Give The Heat Trouble

The Heat have a net 9.4 point differential per 100 possessions, which is second-best in the NBA (the Oklahoma City Thunder have the highest net point differential per 100 possessions at 10.6).  While the Heat have dominated pretty much every team they have played (and oh yeah, they are on a 25 game winning streak) they have had trouble with some teams over the course of the season.

Note: there are some sample size considerations to take into account because it is not like the Heat and the New York Knicks, for example, play each other a lot.

Part of the reason behind the Knicks’ success is that they shot lights out when they met the Heat in their earlier season match-ups.  They blew the Heat out by 20 points in the Knicks’ season opener, and then won by 20 in early December (and they did it without Carmelo).  Even after cooling down from their hot shooting start, when the Knicks played the Heat on March 3rd, the Heat had to rally in order to beat the Knicks 96-93, in a relatively close game.  Tyson Chandler is a rebounding machine that can dominate the low post and when they can stroke it from deep, there’s nothing that can be done.

Memphis’ ability to play against the Heat is no surprise given the fact that Memphis has the best front-court duo in the NBA in Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.  Randolph and Gasol basically eat alive Bosh and whoever else is playing on the interior, especially on the boards.

Similarly, Indiana plays the Heat tough for similar reasons — they are big, long, play tough defense, and can rebound the ball.  The Heat are not a great rebounding team, and this can really hurt them (in the first half of the Cleveland game the Heat were getting out-rebounded something like 22-9).

The interesting team here is Milwaukee, because if the playoffs started right now, the Heat would be playing Milwaukee in the first round of the playoffs.  I didn’t know that they played the Heat as closely as they did, but they can be a dangerous team, especially if Monta Ellis goes off and has 25-point quarters.  Again, Milwaukee has a strong interior presence in Larry Sanders (or LARRY SANDERS!) and Mbah a Moute is a good defender that can guard multiple positions.

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