Miami Heat Can’t Rebound So They Won’t Win

Cleveland 102, Miami 92

Pat Riley’s famous phrase, no rebounds no rings, should be splashed in red paint all over the Miami Heat’s locker room. Or, maybe: history repeats itself. The Heat were an awful rebounding team last year: last in total rebounding, next to last in offensive rebounding and 28th in defensive rebounding. Their rebounding woes, from a glance, seemed solved with the addition of Hassan Whiteside as a regular part of the rotation. But Whiteside averaged ten rebounds a game last season, nice enough, but well below the league leader DeAndre Jordan who averaged 15 rebounds a game. This year Whiteside is averaging 7.5 rebounds a game. There’s not much behind him athletically. There’s an old Amar’e Stoudamire and an old Udonis Haslem and even Luol Deng is old. So where are they going to get enough offensive rebounds to keep possessions alive and enough defensive rebounds to run the break in the open court?

When you build a team, the traditional theory is you use the best team in your conference as a template. You try to match up with them. But that is not what Pat Riley did. The Heat wanted to get younger and they wanted to get more athletic.

Coming into this season, Eric Spoelstra wanted to increase his team’s pace. Last year the Miami Heat were the second slowest team in the NBA. Spoelstra, understanding the game’s evolution, knew the Heat had to be faster. And so they signed Goran Dragic and picked up athletic Gerald Green. The problem is Dragic is an offensive player with shoddy defense and Green is a streaky shooter who plays zero defense. Still, that wasn’t the worst of it. Speed is neutralized if you can’t use it to your advantage, if you can’t rebound quick and get out on the break. The Heat rebound slow. The speed they have then becomes a non-factor.

Without rebounding talent, they Heat are in no-man’s land. They have an inability to compete with loaded offensive teams in their own conference like the Cavs and Bulls, not to mention Detroit that has a monster in Andre Drummond and a bunch of shooters on the perimeter, if they are not shooting the ball well.

The Heat were destroyed by Cleveland tonight and it wasn’t LeBron James that killed them. James was good, 29 points but only 4 assists and 5 rebounds. James’ back is still an issue. It was Kevin Love and his 14 rebounds that the Heat had no answer for. It was Tristan Thompson and his 9 rebounds. It was Anderson Varejao and his 8 rebounds. The Heat were outclassed in the toughness department. Chris Bosh who is the Heat’s best player had 5 rebounds. It’s going to be an average season with that kind of production in the front court.

photo via llananba