3 Stats that explain the Miami Heat's 6-game win streak

From better shot selection and creating turnovers to limiting chances for the opponent, the Miami Heat have found a process for winning this season.
Miami Heat v Atlanta Hawks
Miami Heat v Atlanta Hawks / Alex Slitz/GettyImages

Since starting the season 1-4, the Miami Heat have won six in a row, elevating their standing to fourth in the Eastern Conference. 

They’ve done it during a road-heavy stretch of the schedule and will return to Kaseya Center for Thursday’s bout with the Brooklyn Nets before leaving for another five-game trip.

What are the factors behind Miami’s turnaround? Here are three stats that explain the Heat’s six-game win streak.

1. Better shot selection: In October, the Heat averaged a league-low 10.5 makes in the restricted area and 15 non-restricted area 2-pointers per game. That ratio is backwards. Too many tough mid-range shots and not enough easy ones at the basket.

Since then, the Heat have turned things around. Over the last six games, the Heat are averaging 17 makes in the restricted area and 12 non-restricted area 2-pointers. 

Better shot selection has propagated more efficiency. The Heat have gone from 53.5% True Shooting (a measure of shooting efficiency that takes into account field goals, 3-point field goals, and free throws) to 60.5% True Shooting. That’s the difference between the league’s 29th-ranked offense and third-best offense in terms of shooting efficiency.

2. Turnovers: The Heat are forcing 18 turnovers per game during this streak and scoring 22 points off those turnovers. Both marks are among the best in the league.

A bulk – 9.7 per game – of those forced turnovers are steals. The Heat’s six-game win streak coincides with Haywood Highsmith’s insertion into the starting lineup. Highsmith is averaging 1.5 steals in that time. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo are both averaging 1.8 and Tyler Herro, who played in the first three games of this streak before spraining his ankle, was averaging a team-high 2 steals per contest before his injury.

The turnovers have the benefit of swinging possessions – ending an opponent's possession without a shot attempt while creating easy baskets for themselves. 

3. Limiting shots on goal: In addition to the turnovers, the Heat are also taking away the easy stuff. They are limiting opponent free throws and second-chance points. During this stretch, opponents are getting to the line on just 21.7% of their possessions – among the lowest marks against any team in the league. 

The Heat are allowing only 11.5 second-chance points per game, the third-best mark in the league.

All of this amounts to opponents taking 103.7 shots on goal per game (field goal attempts plus free throws) compared to Miami’s 107.7 shots on goal.

These factors aren’t just the formula for Miami’s six-game win streak, but it’s also the formula that, if the Heat can consistently execute, should lead to a successful season.

One thing worth noting is that these win streaks can sometimes be explained by shooting luck. In a make-or-miss league, teams can go on a lucky run of making 3-pointers while opponents miss more than usual from distance. 

That’s not the case here, though. Miami’s opponents are actually shooting better from deep – a very high 39.4%, in fact – than the Heat, who are making just 35.4% of their 3s. With better shooting luck, the Heat would be winning these games by more.

From better shot selection and creating turnovers to limiting chances for the opponent, the Heat have found a process for winning this season.