Posted by Ben Golliver.
THE THEORY: A faster Miami Heat is a more dangerous Miami Heat
THE PROOF: Miami runs away with opening day road win
The early word out of Miami Heat training camp was coach Erik Spoelstra's desire to up the tempo in an effort to unleash his team's fierce athleticism and ability to finish plays in transition. A competitive advantage could be found, reason dictated, if Miami adopted some of the University of Oregon's football team's creativity and unpredictability.
Miami was below-average (No. 21) in terms of pace last season but has all the parts, on paper, to be one of the most versatile, mobile teams in the game. The Big 3 of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh can all move quickly, authoritatively and nimbly in transition, the available point guard options aren't ball-stoppers and center Joel Anthony and power forward Udonis Haslem aren't oafs. The linchpins of any offense attack are going to be James and Wade, of course, and both are good in isolation and halfcourt situations that it was tempting to just slow things down and let them work their guaranteed man-to-man abilities to create regular trips to the free throw line and high-percentage looks for their teammates. Miami was a top-3 team in terms of offensive efficiency last season so any chances amount to Spoelstra tinkering with a winning formula rather than overhauling a broken model.
Going faster increases the potential for turnovers, lost possessions and decreased overall efficiency, but it also creates the potential, given the sheer quality of Miami's horses, to simply run teams off the court in demoralizing fashion. The Heat went to Dallas and defeated the Mavericks on Christmas Day, 105-94, but their higher-octane approach made this a game that was far less competitive than that score indicated.
Miami ran up a 30+ point lead thanks in large part to its ability to turn Dallas over and convert in transition, where the Heat finished with 31 fast break points. The results were often sensational, none more mesmerizing than the following double alley-oop, which saw James tip a lob pass from Mario Chalmers to Wade, who finished it with a thunderous dunk and a scowling face that said, "Ooh, that was nasty." The play began with Chalmers picking Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki's pocket from the weakside.
James and Wade, together, were extraordinarily efficient, combining for 63 points on 40 shots and getting to the line a combined 25 times. Bosh was mostly an afterthought but with numbers like that it doesn't much matter. Miami committed 23 turnovers, certainly something to keep an eye on, but it got to the foul line at will and torched Dallas' first unit on the break. The blowout potential here is frightening.
Here's one last look at their open court abilities. a Wade to James to Bosh combination which was sparked by a Wade block on the defensive end. There's not a team in the league that can stop this trio if their chemistry is clicking like this at full speed.