NBA East: Miami Needs to Improve Rebounding to Defend Title
The defending NBA Champions the Miami Heat are once again leading the Eastern Conference. Miami has a record thus far after 30 games of the regular season of 22-8. What is very unordinary is the Heat has also recorded the fewest rebounds of any NBA team and is on track to record the second worst season of rebounds in their franchise’s history.
Former Lakers and Miami coach and now president of the Miami Heat, Pat Riley once said without rebounds a team will not win NBA Championships, the Heat this season are not a team that can or will dominate the boards.
LeBron James, the reigning NBA MVP is the only Heat player in the league’s first 30 rebounders as far as average rebounds per game. Miami also plays close to every game with a starting lineup that is outsized and at times by a substantial amount.
Miami is not only being outrebounded in nearly every game they play, but at times by very significant numbers. So far this season the Heat has been outrebounded by 15, 17 and 29 and is a surprising 3-0 in those games.
Chris Bosh the Heat’s starting center said the team has been concerned about their lack of rebounding since many teams have taken advantage of second chance shots and scored points the Heat could have prevented. Bosh says sometimes the team’s big man will rotate and take them away from the basket and when shots are taken the Heat have no size underneath to grab the boards.
Against Dallas on Wednesday night, the Heat won in overtime by 10 points. However, in the first quarter of the game they were outscored by 12 and outrebounded by 11. Once Miami closed the rebounding gap, they started to close the scoring gap. Over the final three quarters of play and the overtime period, the Heat was able to outrebound Dallas by 10 and outscore them by 22.
Bosh and his fellow teammates feel that if they can outrebound opponents by as little as one or two per game, they will be much better off, of course the Heat in some games gets outrebounded by margins of 2 to 1 and they still end up winning the game.
The Heat was outrebounded by Minnesota in one game 53 to 24 and the Heat still won. Orlando just this week outrebounded Miami 50-33 and the Heat still won and scored an average of 110 points in those two games.
James explains that Miami does not have any dominating rebounders. The team, James said, must work as a unit to rebound and if second shots are allowed, defend as best as possible as to not give up too many second look points since it put a great deal of pressure on the team’s offense at the other end.
The Heat players are well aware the odds are stacked against them to defend their title if their rebounding problems continue. The players are trying to fix the problem, while the coaching staff works on ways to have bigger players on the floor. Many feel the problem is not a matter of size but a matter of will and determination.
Thus far, it has not seemed to hurt the Heat, but once the playoffs roll around, rebounds equal wins and that is what they will need to move on.