Having bolted out of the blocks to post a 5-1 record, here’s a deeper look into the numbers behind the hot start for the Miami Heat.
While it’s safe to say the Miami Heat hierarchy were optimistic entering the 2019-20 season, very few could’ve foreseen their output over the opening fortnight of their schedule.
In racing out to a 5-1 record, the Heat have become one of the genuine surprise packages of the league. Not only are they in a tie with the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers for the best record in the league, but its been the manner in which they’ve won that has taken most observers by surprise.
In a nutshell, Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro have excelled as rookies, Bam Adebayo has taken a notable step up and Jimmy Butler has been as good as advertised. But it’s been the even contributions across the board through the opening six games that has stood out.
With their only loss coming on the second night of a road back-to-back at the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Heat are naturally featured heavily among the league leaders in multiple categories.
In all, here are some of the most notable areas in which the Heat have excelled thus far:
- Net rating: 10.3 (1st)
- True shooting percentage: 59.5 (1st)
- Field goal percentage: 48.0 (3nd)
- Blocks: 8.0 per game (2nd)
- Rebounding percentage: 53.2 (3rd)
- Defensive rating: 98.0 (4th)
As can be seen, these categories represent a true mix of offense and defense. On the defensive end, one area in particular that has stood out has been the opposition 3-point shooting percentage.
Whereas last year the Heat allowed the opposition to shoot at a 35.8 percent clip from behind the arc, ranking 17th overall, they’ve thus far restricted opponents to an abysmal 26.6 percent, which currently leads the league.
But overall, it’s been at the offensive end in where the Heat have significantly transformed their output. Leading the league in true shooting percentage, this is an enormous change from last season, when the Heat finished in 27th place. Fueling this rise has been their excellent 40.1 percent shooting clip from long range, currently ranking first in the league.
Following a year in which they struggled from downtown in hitting at a 34.9 percent return, making the most of their 3-point shooting opportunities thus far has been vital, especially considering that 40.0 percent of the Heat’s total field goal attempts have been from beyond the arc this season.
Following their latest win, a 129-100 demolition of the Houston Rockets, head coach Erik Spoelstra could not have been more effusive in evaluating his team:
“The guys have really been working to get to our identity, and it’s bringing a great deal of energy to the defensive end….that energy was electric in the first quarter, and we were able to play off a lot of those misses and turnovers in the open court….guys really brought it tonight.”
As impressive as it is that eight players are currently averaging double figures in scoring, the fact that three of these players weren’t on the team last season, while a fourth — Duncan Robinson — played a total of 161 minutes last season, demonstrates not only a significant shift in the roster, but also the incredible job Spoelstra has done thus far in molding this group together.
On the verge of a challenging three-game, west coast road trip, which includes a matchup with the 5-1 Lakers, the Miami Heat are about to find out just where they stand at this early point of the season.