Menace in Miami

Jimmy Butler

It’s early but the Miami Heat have been really good in their first 6 games. Scary good. The types of numbers they are putting up are on par with historically great past champions. We have a long way to go before we can think about what they will look like when the playoffs start, but it’s fair to assess the Heat at this point and the way they are playing deserves plenty of praise. They are #1 in defensive rating, #1 in net rating, #2 in rebounding and rebounding percentage, and #1 in point differential. The Heat are undefeated at home and above .500 on the road. That’s normally a good recipe for a team that will have home court advantage throughout the playoffs.

Coming into this season many were concerned with the type of scoring production the Heatles would get from their bench. Consider those questions answered. Miami has the #1 scoring bench in the NBA. Tyler Herro is on a tear. Averaging 22 points a game, grabbing nearly 7 rebounds a game, dishing out nearly 5 assists a game, while shooting 46% from the field and 40% from downtown. Throw in the revelation that Dedmon has been along with the growth of Max Strus and the team doesn’t really miss a beat when the starters come out or when Spo has staggered substitutions with a mix of starters and bench guys.

It’s safe to say that Miami has a big 4, not the big 3 that most people thought coming into the season. Jimmy, Bam, Tyler, & Kyle in that order. Jimmy Butler is on an MVP level tear who is back to scoring, rebounding, and stealing bags from everyone and their mothers. He’s been getting buckets and a menace at free safety roaming the backcourt and getting pick sixes. Bam Adebayo looks like a mini Alonzo Kemp out on the floor. He has an improved mid-range jumper and he’s not afraid to use it. The Heat are dominating the league and they have not shot the ball particularly well. Heat sniper Duncan Robinson has not hit stride and Lowry hasn’t looked for his shot much. When the offense of this team catches up to its defense, it’s going to be scary for this league.

The Miami Heat have not played a cupcake schedule either. They hosted the defending champs and destroyed them by 42 points on opening night. Then had to go to up to Brooklyn and beat the odds-on title favorites decisively by 13 on the road. They then proceeded to shut down the #1 offense in the league in the Charlotte Hornets while holding Lamello Ball to just 6 points and then went to Memphis and beat a very good Memphis Grizzlies team by 26 while holding the special talent of Ja Morant to 10 points below his scoring average on an inefficient number of shots for him. This Heat defense is smothering. It’s the best defense in the league and it isn’t even close. Miami is more than 6 points better in defensive efficiency than the 2nd place defensive unit, which for context, is a big gulf that is the same as the difference between the 2nd and 8th place teams. Miami’s average margin of victory is over 22 points. They are blowing teams right off the court and crushing their dreams early.

The Heat outrebounded Memphis by 18 rebounds (50-32) on Saturday. Before that game Memphis was one of the best rebounding teams in the NBA that had outrebounded every single team it played. Considering that Miami’s best rebounder Bam Adebayo sat that game out due to injury and Miami played a small ball lineup with Markieff Morris at center for long stretches in that game, it’s even more impressive. This team is playing with heart and vigor. They are defending desperately and closing out defensive possessions by rebounding. It’s been fun to watch this 90s throwback tough physical defensive style team with a roster filled with hard working guys who were either undrafted or came into the league without much acclaim going at star player after star player and neutering them. It’s horrifying to think what this team will look like when their shooters start to get going and they get Victor Oladipo back on the court. You can tell that Jimmy, Bam, and Tyler heard all of those “Bubble Guppy” jokes due to their unceremonious end to their season at the hands of Milwaukee and were anxious to show the world that they are a legit squad. Sleep on them if you want to but you will eventually have to put some respect on their name.

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