The rebounding against Minnesota was pitiful.
The rebounding against Orlando was horrendous.
The rebounding against Chicago? Well, that was bad, too.
But the rebounding against the Indiana Pacers in the Miami Heat’s 87-77 loss was, well, disheartening to say the least. The Pacers beat the Heat on the boards 55-36, yet that wasn’t even the worst numbers of the night. No, that would belong to the offensive rebounding margin, which was won by the Pacers by a–brace yourselves–22-7 margin.
Let’s just run through some repulsive stats shall we?
Hibbert, Paul George and David West combined for 36 rebounds. The entire Heat team had 36.
Miami had more turnovers (14) than assists (13). LeBron James had seven of those turnovers and only four assists.
LeBron was the only Heat player with more than six rebounds.
The Big Three combined for 66 points. Seven other Heat players combined for 11 on 4-of-22 shooting.
77 points was a season-low.
I could go on, but it would only continue to drive me up the wall.
The Heat were pitiful Tuesday night, ladies and gentlemen. Dwyane Wade set the tone with 23 first half points to make it a tie game at the half, but ended up with only seven points the rest of the way as the Heat offense became disjointed. Wade made four three-pointers, a season-high, but nobody else could make a shot, including Shane Battier and Ray Allen who combined for a goose egg on 0-of-8 shooting.
Dwyane’s 30 points marked the second time this season he has scored at least 30 points.
LeBron James contributed 22 points, 10 boards and two blocks, but managed only 1-of-4 shooting from the foul line and allowed his defensive matchup in Paul George to have an incredible game. George finished with 29 points on 27 shots and converted 4-of-9 from beyond the arc, bearing a striking resemblance to many other individuals who have had incredible shooting performances against Miami this season.
All-in-all, though, the Pacers were awful on the offensive end and it came as a result of good Heat defense by forcing jumpers and making life difficult for Roy Hibbert and David West. Miami forced Indiana into 36 percent shooting, but also allowed 23 second-chance points, resulting in 23 more field-goal attempts for the Pacers. The Pacers came up with 28 points-in-the-paints, most coming as a result of offensive rebounds and put-backs near the rim by West and Hibbert.
Both were held below their season-average point totals, but their influence on the boards made up for it. Even Ian Mahinmi managed five rebounds–the same amount Chris Bosh had in 36 minutes–in only 17 minutes worth of action. Their superiority on the boards occurred not just because of their size, wielding an arsenal of four players 6’9″ or taller and the 7’2″ Hibbert, but also due to the effort that was given to hit the glass.
Rebounding isn’t all about size. We have seen this same Heat team, minus Chris Bosh, make slight work of this same Pacers team while keeping the rebounding margin respectable. This team not rebounding the battle isn’t within a Chris Andersen or Jarvis Varnado signing away from getting it together. It’s going to take a conscious and collective effort to rebound the ball.
Perhaps when LeBron will be asked to play at the four more often, when he will spend more time hovering near the rim, the Heat can continue running this small-ball lineup against any team. As much as some want to believe the opposition is wising up to small-ball, they’re not. It works when shooters are making their shots and especially when guys like LeBron and Dwyane are working with the same chemistry they exhibited in last year’s second-round.
Maybe even a little more Chris Bosh taking advantage of being able to pull out Roy Hibbert to the perimeter? Bosh is constantly getting forgotten in the second half, yet he’s the only one who has scored 40 points this season. That came against Denver, a team that features a lineup just as big, if not bigger, than the Pacers. Though the size was an issue, Bosh was getting whatever he wanted because the defense sacrificed a small lineup to play as a traditional NBA team.
Even then it would only be masking the problem.
The supporting cast was missed. 11 points from everyone not named LeBron, Dwyane, or Chris. Norris Cole led the bench with five points on two shots, while Mike Miller and Mario Chalmers each dropped in a three-pointer. That’s the Heat supporting cast. While the Pacers received seven points apiece from Mahinmi, Tyler Hansbrough and Gerald Green, and eight assists from D.J. Augustin, the Heat’s role players combined for 16 rebounds and five assists.
Haslem finished with four rebounds. He took two shots and one missed everything; Shane Battier has three three-points in his last 17 attempts; and Mario Chalmers has hit one field-goal in four out of the past six games.
It’s not pretty, but it’s there. What’s also there is the fact that we are still in January and there’s plenty of time for adjustments to be made for the regular season. When the postseason gets here, however, we will see a different Heat team. The same one that has represented the East in the NBA Finals the past two years.
They may have had to make signings in the past and those mid-season dealings didn’t mean too much once postseason time came around. Turiaf’s only action was in garbage-time of Game 5, while Dampier didn’t play a single postseason minute. How valuable do you think Chris Andersen is going to be when it comes down to it?
At least LeBron extended his streak of 20-plus games!