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Is age catching up with the Miami Heat?

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The first and second units have a significant age difference, but how should Erik Spoelstra mix and match their styles for the best fit?

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The Miami Heat went into Detroit with a top-four record and boasting an elite defense. They left Motown with their faults exposed. So what to do? For this season they will have to adapt or die.

The first and second units have a significant age difference (2016 is used for age):

STARTER AGE ROTATION AGE
Goran Dragic 30 Tyler Johnson 24
Dwyane Wade 34 Gerald Green 30
Luol Deng 31 Josh McRoberts 29
Chris Bosh 32 Justise Winslow 20
Hassan Whiteside 27 Chris Bosh 32
AVERAGE 31 AVERAGE 27

Chris Bosh is in both units, but he is a starter in name only (SINO), because Erik Spoelstra takes him out of the game after only a few minutes.

The age differences accounts for the vastly different style of play between the two groups. A 31-year-old team performs at a slower pace than a 27-year-old one and dictates how they approach the game.

The older group plays the game with a more deliberate focus. The younger ones are faster-paced and even block shots from behind. Both styles can win games when done at a high level.

The Miami Heat game statistics for the first eleven games show they have a 59% FG% in the first six seconds of the shot clock, which drops down to 41% with 7 to 15 seconds left on the clock. They shoot almost 20% better in the paint when opposing big men do not get back in time to protect the rim.

The figures also show the Heat shoot a next-to-last 29% 3PT% when 7 to 15 seconds are left on the clock, while shooting next-to-best 40% 3PT% with less than 4 seconds left on the clock. They are a much better jump-shooting team from range when they have the time to get their outside shot in rhythm to an open man.

The starters' "old-man" game is more suited to 3-point shooting late in the shot clock, which is exactly what the San Antonio Spurs do because they have the NBA's oldest roster. The Spurs have great success winding the clock down to find an open look from downtown. They mesh their style with their age.

The younger rotation players can run an up-tempo style looking to score in first six seconds because the Heat have a 59% FG% in that time frame. They can cover the court quickly and exert more energy on both ends of the court. They are not suited for 3-point shooting, but instead get high-percentage turnover field goals, that is, the defense leads to offense philosophy.

Amar'e Stoudemire, Chris Andersen, Udonis Haslem would be more in sync together with Beno Udrih, Wade, Deng, Green, McRoberts playing a slower, looking for open-man style like the Spurs do. Dragic might do better with Josh Richardson, Jarnell Stokes, Winslow, Johnson for scoring from turnovers and steals. Whiteside would be a force with either group.

The Heat have two distinct identities: young and active style versus an older and deliberate one. Figuring out how to put the optimum combinations together is a process the team will gradually work out during the season.