Ten games into the season, the Miami Heat have won five in a row to improve to 6-4 and fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Here are 10 observations through the first 10 games of the Heat’s season.
1. They are who we thought they were
Here’s how the Heat ranked in terms of efficiency ratings last season versus this season:
Last season: Ninth in DRTG, 25th in ORTG
This season: Ninth in DRTG, 24th in ORTG
What’s more is that, like last season, the Heat have a negative point differential despite having a winning record. What’s even more is that Miami’s net rating through 10 games is minus-0.5, exactly the same net rating as last season.
Both versions of the Heat are top 10 in defense and near the bottom in offense.
Defense is part of the Heat’s identity and, with Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler and Erik Spoelstra, it seems like this is the floor for them on that side of the ball.
Although the offensive ratings are troublingly similar, there are reasons for optimism when you check under the hood. Last season’s offense shot 34.4% on 3-pointers, the fourth-worst mark in the league. This season, they are making 37.4% of their 3s – the fifth-best clip among all teams. Miami’s problem is that it's not getting them up enough (32.6 3-point attempts per game, 21st in the league).
Instead, they are taking more shots from mid-range (13.7 attempts per game vs. 10 attempts per game last season) and making them at a worse clip (35% now vs. 40.8% last season).
The Heat are shooting a smidge more in the restricted area, but need to tilt their shot chart closer to the more efficient spots in the floor. Eliminating so many of the mid-range looks in favor of attacks to the basket and 3-pointers will help lift Miami’s efficiency.
Of course, the Heat know this. There are inherent limitations based on the team’s personnel. Adebayo and Butler have been encouraged to shoot more from 3-point range, but outside of Duncan Robinson and the injured Tyler Herro, the Heat simply don’t have other volume shooters or players who regularly get to the basket.