Should the HEAT Play Even Faster Next Season?
By: Matt Blue
Tempo is very important to any individual team’s success. Early on in the season, teams must establish an identity. Are they going to be a team that tries to push the tempo every opportunity they can by getting out in transition or are they going to be a methodical half court oriented team? The coaching staff has to evaluate its team’s personnel before deciding on what the team’s main identity is going to be.
Determining a team’s identity is a major decision for any coaching staff. In the defending champion Miami HEAT’s case, they already have an established identity which is to push the ball off turnovers and missed shots from the opposing team. The question is can they play even faster than they played last season?
HEAT coach Erik Spoelstra seems to think so. “I hope to play faster,” Spolestra told 560 WQAM recently this week. “We turned it up a gear last year and I think we have the personnel to hopefully go even faster. I think with a normal training camp and a normal season we can build up that habit even more.”
It is in the HEAT’s best interest to utilize their speed and athleticism every chance they have. Since the HEAT is severely undersized against a number of other contending teams, they need to take advantage of their own fair share of strengths. The ability to play like the “Showtime Lakers” is definitely one of the advantages they have that most teams don’t.
It is important to remember that during the beginning of the season, they were able to get out and run like there was no tomorrow. However, as the season wore on the HEAT’s pace dropped off significantly to about the league average of 19th. This was partly due to the fact that teams started to make adjustments defensively.
But it also had to do with the fact that the HEAT became their own worst enemy because they just stopped playing as fast as they were capable of. In spurts, you would see explosive plays in the open court from the HEAT. The problem was that they just weren’t able to sustain this type of rapid pace.
The HEAT has proven that they have the capability of beating a majority of teams in this league at their own game. The thing is if the HEAT actually plays their game, they will be virtually unstoppable. There is absolutely no way a team such as the Pacers or Celtics can hang with the HEAT when they are at their high flying explosive best.
This is why it makes a remarkable amount of sense that coach Spoelstra wants his team to play faster more consistently. Last year, the HEAT won its second championship in franchise history based on talent, effort, teamwork, chemistry and timely shooting. So if they win it again this year, it will be because they also have a true identity. You can add it to the list of reasons why they repeat if they do in fact repeat.