Will the HEAT sweep the Bucks? They got this. There are three keys for the team, players and coaches to focus on if they want to break out the brooms next week.
The Miami HEAT Index series preview at the NBA Mistress blog predicts the HEAT to sweep the Bucks, but the HEAT have never swept an opponent in the playoffs during the 3 Kings era. Whether it's a last second 3-pointer from Lou Williams, Chris Bosh's performance anxiety in Boston, a blowout in Chicago or Dwyane Wade's botched last second play in Madison Square Garden or injuries, the HEAT have dropped the broom.
The HEAT fell short of breaking the 1972 Lakers' record for a regular season winning streak. Will the team be focused to break the 2001 Lakers' record for best post-season record? Do they really want to play "as few games as possible" as Wade told Craig Sager?
If the HEAT are focused on a dominant playoff run, here are the keys to beginning it with a sweep of the Bucks...
Keys for the Team
There are four factors for team success in basketball: shooting efficiency, turnovers, offensive rebounds and free throws. The series preview at the NBA Mistress blog illustrates the HEAT have clear advantages over the Bucks in shooting efficiency and free throws, so the key for the team to sweep the Bucks will be turnovers and offensive rebounding. The games will be blowouts if the HEAT give their superior offense more opportunities to score.
The HEAT offense ranks 12th in turnovers and the Bucks defense ranks 6th in opp. turnovers. The HEAT defense ranks 4th in opp. turnovers and the Bucks offense ranks 3rd in taking care of the ball. Opponents committed turnovers more frequently against the HEAT defense after the all-star break, so the team will need to turn up the pressure trapping the Bucks to transform a weakness into a strength if they want the sweep.
The HEAT rank 26th in offensive rebounding and the Bucks rank 28th in defensive rebounding. The Bucks can be swept if HEAT players and coaches decide to exploit the Bucks' weakness on the defensive glass for 2nd chance points.
Keys for the Players
The HEAT need 3 players to transform turnovers from a weakness to a strength against the Bucks: Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. Those 3 players lead the HEAT rotation in steals and turnovers. They'll need to take care of the ball in pick-and-rolls while forcing Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis into turnovers by trapping them or jumping the passing lanes.
The HEAT big men will be the keys to exploiting the Bucks' weakness on the defensive glass. The Bucks allowed more production by opposing centers than any other team in the NBA and ranked last in rebounds allowed by opposing centers. Chris Bosh's performance on the boards will be critical for a sweep. The spreadsheet below lists the production NBA teams allowed by opposing centers this season in terms of Win Score per 48 minutes (see the HEAT Produced Page for an explanation of Win Score).
If Chalmers helps the HEAT win the turnover battle and Bosh helps them win the battle on the boards, then all the HEAT need is for Dwyane Wade and LeBron James to play like future hall-of-famers and dominate the matchups at their position.
Keys for Coaches
The keys for Erik Spoelstra and his staff to get the HEAT a sweep are make sure the rotation and play-calling is tight.
PG is the only weakness in the HEAT rotation against the Bucks and the weak link in that chain is Norris Cole. Spo has to eliminate him from the rotation and let LeBron, Wade and Ray Allen play backup PG if the HEAT want to sweep the Bucks. Giving Cole's minutes to Allen (or maybe Mike Miller) increases the HEAT's chances of winning by at least 2%, based on estimated wins produced per 48 minutes (see the HEAT Produced Page for an explanation of estimated wins produced).
Est. WP48 in Position Matchups with Cole
PG - HEAT: 0.079 | Bucks: 0.121
SG - HEAT: 0.165 | Bucks: 0.035
SF - HEAT: 0.200 | Bucks: 0.000
PF - HEAT: 0.108 | Bucks: 0.092
C - HEAT: 0.125 | Bucks: 0.075
TOTAL - HEAT: 0.678 estimated winning percentage vs. Bucks
Giving Cole's minutes to Allen and Miller increases the HEAT's est. WP48 at PG from 0.079 to 0.103, which increases the HEAT's likelihood of winning from 67.8% to 70.1%.
Another reason that cutting Cole out the lineups and shortening the rotation is a key for the HEAT to sweep the Bucks is it allows the team to play from the strength of their starting lineup. HEAT starters led the NBA this season in est.WP48 with a 0.821 winning percentage. The HEAT bench only produced 0.544 est.WP48 (13th in the NBA) while the Bucks bench produced 0.571 est.WP48 (9th). The more the HEAT starters play against the Bucks bench instead of Shaved Monkey Nuts (Shane Battier) and the Little 12, the more likely the HEAT will be to sweep.
As for play-calling, #PaceNSpace is the key to a sweep. The HEAT rank 1st in scoring off spot-up jumpers and 1st in transition offense while the Bucks defense against those plays just ranks 12th and 13th, according to mysynergysports.com.