Most teams want to peak by the playoffs, so that they are at the top of their game going into the postseason tournament.
Not the Miami Heat.
The Heat rested their star players LeBron James and Chris Bosh and restricted Dwyane Wade’s minutes for the final week of the regular season. That’s more hiding than peaking.
Instead, the Heat have planned it perfectly so that they are peaking during the playoffs. Sure, they started off a bit slow against the Charlotte Bobcats, struggling to get back to their trapping-style defense in the first game of the opening round, but they soon found their legs and ended up sweep the Bobcats and are now up 2-0 over the Brooklyn Nets in the semi-finals.
Miami is scoring at a NBA Playoffs-best 112.9 points per 100 possessions, nearly five points better than their regular season rate (which was second in the NBA behind the Los Angeles Clippers’ 109.4 offensive rating).
The Heat’s defense ranks just behind the Indiana Pacers, giving up 99.4 points per 100 possessions. Sure, they played Charlotte in the first round, but they stepped up the D against the Nets too. Brooklyn has scored just 86 and 82 points in the first two games against Miami after scoring an average of 97.7 points per game in the first round against the Toronto Raptors.
Just like the regular season, the Heat are leading the league in effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage. Miami is outscoring opponents by a playoff best 13.4 points per 100 possessions.
Not to mention that Dwyane Wade hasn’t missed a playoff game yet while playing more minutes. LeBron James has a true shooting rate of 65.1 percent, more than 10 percent better than neo-MVP Kevin Durant (55 percent).
The Heat are moving the ball terrifically. Just like last year’s title-winner, Miami’s offense has transformed into a beautifully choreographed symphony of ball movement. LeBron will take to the post, Bosh will stretch the defense with his three-point shooting gravity and Dwyane Wade will fill space and strike terror with a series of cuts and jab steps that force defenders to pay attention to him. Either of those three could have the ball at any moment, and find each other or one of many shooters on the team.
This is the Heat would we get a glimpse of every once in a while during those 82 games known as the regular season. This Heat team is anything but regular, it’s downright spectacular. Miami has yet to lose a game these playoffs. 6-0 and controlling games like a master of puppets.
Miami’s formula has been to see how the team attacks and defends them, not caring so much about the score in the beginning of games and more about watching for what adjustments the opponent has made. When figuring that out, they attack it.
They have managed to go on runs and open up comfortable leads in almost every game so far. They time the runs almost perfectly, so that the opponent doesn’t have time to gain ground.
The Heat went on a 15-5 run to close Game 2 against the Nets. It was a close game, and before Brooklyn blinked, the Heat were hot and the game was over.
Common sense dictates that Miami will lose a game at some point. Something irrational, such as Marcus Thorton going off for 20 points or something could send reality into a tailspin. But the Heat have found themselves playing their best basketball in the last seven months.