Heat's return to championship contender hinges on 1 major stat improving

The Miami Heat went from an NBA Finals team to a first-round playoff knockout in the span of a single season. There is one major stat that played a part in that.
Miami Heat v Boston Celtics - Game Five
Miami Heat v Boston Celtics - Game Five / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

The Miami Heat were top-five in defensive rating this season, anchored by All-Defensive first team star Bam Adebayo. Coming off another run to the NBA Finals a year ago and then running it back with the same core brought a sense of uncertainty with this roster and what they were capable of. The regular season brought the same inconsistencies that took place the season prior. Injuries made it close to impossible this time around to go on another historic underdog playoff run.

Regardless of injuries, the one statistical category that plagued the Heat was offense. That defensive rating compared to the offensive was almost polar opposites and didn't bring enough balance to the roster. Miami was ranked 21st overall in offensive rating, at just 113.3 points per game. The Boston Celtics, who sported the top offensive rating, ran the Heat off the court during their first-round playoff series.

It took a historic performance for this Heat team to steal one game from their rival Celtics; a Game 2 win in which they made a franchise playoff record in 3-point makes. Ultimately, that shooting pace was not sustainable.

In that 2023 run, the Heat's offensive numbers went up considerably from the regular season to the postseason. Their shooting efficiency, 3-point efficiency, and overall rating all increased. It is tough to replicate such a remarkable run as an eight-seed in back-to-back seasons. Injuries didn't help, but the Heat's offense didn't exactly soar to the top of the league rankings when the team was healthy, either.

It's true that a lot of "Heat Culture" starts on the defensive end. Having that intensity on that side of the ball is part of the organization's identity. But there needs to be a bigger emphasis on offense, even if they can't be elite on that end. Even going from the bottom 10 in offensive rating to something closer to league average can make all the difference in the world.