The takeaway from the Miami Heat’s throttling of the Nets is not that the Heat cruised to a 101-78 win. Some version of that is going to happen a lot this season.
The takeaway is that the Heat are getting better. They are figuring out what works, they are correcting their mistakes. The fact they are winning by 23 and still figuring things out is what should scare people.
The Heat’s issues so far have been on offense, and that is where you are seeing the vast improvement.
First and foremost, against the Heat the really tried to push the pace. They ran on every miss, and there were a lot of those from the Nets.
That running was fueled by a Nets strategy to really crash the offensive glass — and it worked, the Nets recovered 35 percent of their missed shots with offensive rebounds (that number was up over 40 percent before garbage time). They got a lot of second chance points which kept the game as close as it was. But with all those bodies going forward to the glass, when the Heat did get the rebound there was nobody back to stop them. Add to that the fact that LeBron dribbling the ball is still faster than most of the Nets roster just running and you had some easy and spectacular transition points for the Heat.
In the half court, the Heat clearly mad a point to go at the rim. They did not against Orlando a couple nights before, but they were drilling the midrange jumpers so they won easily. Miami attacked the rim, with very interesting sets like Wade coming off a double high screen (LeBron and Big Z) then just driving hard as Wade does. LeBron went to the rim hard, too. By the second half there were kickouts to a wide-open Carlos Arroyo for midrange jumpers and threes.
The Nets tried a zone for a while, which worked for about three straight possessions, but the Heat just kept attacking, got inside the zone and went on a run. They went on a lot of runs.
The Heat also tried some new looks like posting up Dwyane Wade.
It all worked. The Heat had an offensive efficiency of 117.4 for the night (points per 100 possessions), which is very good.
The Heat defense on the perimeter is still good, and still forced a lot of turnovers. The Nets tried to counter by going to Brook Lopez inside early and often — he had 11 of the team’s first 14 points and he finished with 20 points on 8-17 shooting) but it was not enough. Lopez absolutely pushed around Chris Bosh for a while.
It’s not all bad for the Nets, Derrick Favors put up his first double-double (13 and 13) and the guy already looks like a beast on the boards. He is not efficient but he is learning, and you really can see the potential the Nets fall in love with.