In their loss to the Chicago Bulls last night, the Miami Heat’s glaring weakness, rebounding, was exposed over and over again (the Heat were outrebounded 31 to 43). This was particularly apparent when Carlos Boozer snagged a critical offensive rebound for the Bulls with the Heat within five points with a minute left in the game. Boozer’s offensive board and subsequent put-back extended the Bulls’ lead to seven and basically was the nail in the proverbial coffin.
Nate Robinson takes a bad, rushed three pointer (no surprise here) and is a shot that the Heat would be willing to live with. Notice that Boozer is already starting to move into a more active rebounding position whereas Bosh’s positioning is pretty bad. The chance that the rebound would careen off along the baseline is small, so Bosh’s intuitive positioning on the play (and even more, his inactivity in moving to a better rebounding position) does not make that much sense.
Here’s one reason why the Heat struggle to rebound, and also why they will struggle against bigger, physical opponents. Boozer is simply stronger than Chris Bosh: Bosh has two arms on Boozer and Boozer is pushing back with only one arm — and is still winning the positioning battle.
Boozer can hold his own with one arm, so when he gets two arms active and free it is basically game over for Bosh. You can see Boozer’s superior leverage and the fact that Bosh is being forced backwards (and basically underneath and behind the basket). The other thing is that Miami is not crashing the glass at all. Miami’s complacency on the boards is worrisome.
Boozer has clearly established superior position, and finally Battier, James, and Allen have started to provide some rebounding support for Bosh. The Bulls have almost conceded the rebound so it is absurd that the Bulls actually got this rebound, I mean, Hinrich has already started to jog back to play defense. (Yes, I understand that the Bulls got lucky with the direction of the rebound, but Boozer should have never should have even had a play on the ball considering there are four Heat players in the paint and two Bulls players.)
Another reason why the Heat have trouble rebounding: other than LeBron James and Chris Anderson, there are not a ton of great leapers on the Heat. Wade has lost his explosiveness and Bosh is not an aerial threat at all. You can see Shane Battier start going up for this rebound about five feet away from the ball — Battier and Bosh simply lack the jumping ability to challenge a superior rebounder who has excellent position.
Boozer, buoyed by his excellent position and the fact that Battier cannot jump, gets to the rebound first (notice how Luol Deng and Nate Robinson are completely out of the shot now).
To make it worse, Battier falls, giving Boozer an unobstructed lane to the basket. If Battier had not fallen, at least he would have been able to contest the shot and make it more difficult for Boozer.
Not only are the Heat less athletic than a lot of teams in the NBA, they lack strength inside. In fact, their most athletic players tend to be perimeter players and have less opportunity to help with rebounding. This, along with a lack of willingness to box out, are probably the main reasons why the Heat are last in the league in rebounding.