Miami HEAT had three problems on the road since the All-Star Break: shooting, rebounding and getting to the line.
The HEAT are 4-7 on the road since All-Star Weekend. They can talk about fixing their problems on the road, but they only play on the road 5 times in the last 15 games of the season so it will be hard to tell if the problems are really fixed before the playoffs. Let's analyze what the problems have been so far.
Four Factors on the Road Since All-Star WeekendThere are Four Factors in winning basketball games: Shooting, Turnovers, Offensive Rebounding and Getting to the Free Throw Line. The HEAT struggled in every one of those categories on the road since the All-Star Break except turnovers. Here are the numbers from the HEAT Produced Page:
- Shooting Efficiency: HEAT 47.3% < OPP 49.9%
- Turnovers: HEAT 13.2 > OPP 15.8
- Offensive Rebounding Percentage: HEAT 26% < OPP 31%
- Free Throws Made/Shot Attempt: HEAT 19.4% < OPP 22.6%
Shooting ProblemsLeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Joel Anthony are the only players in Coach Erik Spoelstra's 8-man rotation that have shot better than the opponents at their positions on the road. NOTE: ADJS% in the table below = Adjusted Shooting Percentage (a measure of shooting efficiency adjusted for the value of 3-point shots).
Norris Cole (-22%), Mario Chalmers (-11%) and Chris Bosh (-8%) have the biggest dropoffs from their season averages shooting on the road in the second half of the season. If those three players shot at their average rates for the season on the road after the All-Star Break, then the HEAT would have produced 1 more win.
ReboundingThe HEAT have lost the offensive rebounding battle all season and this bad stretch on the road is no different. The rebounding of Dwyane Wade, Joel Anthony, Udonis Haslem and Norris Cole dropped a little, but overall the team's offensive rebounding numbers only decreased by 0.4 boards per 48 minutes on the road in March.
Free ThrowsOpponents have taken 2.3 more free throws per game than the HEAT on the road since All-Star Weekend.
The HEAT took 0.2 less free throws than their opponents on the road all season and usually there's not much teams can do about that - it's the nature of home-court advantage in the NBA. Only 10 teams in the NBA take more free throws than their opponents on the road, according to hoopsstats.com:
- Denver Nuggets: +6.4
- Oklahoma City Thunder: +4.7
- Orlando Magic: +3.7
- Minnesota Timberwolves: +2.8
- Cleveland Cavaliers: +2.4
- LA Lakers: +2.4
- San Antonio Spurs: +2.4
- Indiana Pacers: +1.8
- Chicago Bulls: +0.9
- New York Knicks: +0.4
The HEAT are a different story, however. LeBron has been getting four less trips to the charity stripe in the last 11 road games. Below is a list of changes in LeBron's shot locations on the road since the All-Star Break compared to his season averages (calculated using stats from hoopdata.com):
- At the rim: 6.2 (-0.3)
- 3-9 feet: 2.7 (+0.7)
- 10-15 feet: 3.7 (+1.5)
- 16-23 feet: 5.2 (-0.4)
- Threes: 2.8 (+0.7)
The increase in three-point shots can probably be attributed to the fact the HEAT got behind by double-digits in many of the recent road games. The real question is whether those 2 extra shots from 3-15 feet are costing LeBron the two trips to the foul line he's missing on the road.
The only road loss in the second half of the season by less than 3 points was in Utah and LeBron only took 3 free throws. The loss in Chicago was by 4 points so maybe 3 made free throws from LeBron changes strategy in crunch time a little bit, but the bigger concern is making sure LeBron will be aggressive getting to the line on the road in the playoffs.
If he isn't, then he may have to spend another season hearing the same criticisms he heard after losing the 2011 Finals.