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Miami Heat's "secret weapon" needs to be utilized more often

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By attacking the paint more instead of settling for jumpers, Miami can put their opponents into a difficult position to foul or get out of the way.

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Heat defeated the New York Knicks using an old-school trick: get the Knicks key players in early foul trouble.

Kristaps Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony picked up two early personal fouls and were benched for most of the first half. Without them on the floor, the Heat had a much easier path to victory playing mostly against the rotation players. When Porzingis and Anthony did return to the floor, they were more cautious on defense. Points from the charity stripe could mean the difference between a win or a loss.

For the Indiana Pacers, a Paul George sitting on the bench with three or more personal fouls would severely limit their chances to win. A potential Heat strategy on offense could be feeding the ball to whoever George is guarding. Having him work on defense and possibly picking up defensive fouls could bench him sometime during the game.

This is not the typical Miami Heat game plan of finding mismatches, but a flexible strategy that improvises on the fly to get the opponent's key threat off the court by using the six personal foul rule to limit a player's floor time and aggressiveness.

Currently the Heat have come out in the first quarter passively shooting mid-range jumpers, without testing the toughness of their opponent in the paint. Against the Knicks, the Heat went to the hole early and often with great success.

That method works for them due to the Heat being big and strong with Hassan Whiteside and Chris Bosh up front.

Even against the Washington Wizards and Charlotte Hornets, the speedy players could get themselves in foul trouble trying to stop bigger and stronger players who have excellent footwork to avoid offensive fouls themselves. Quickness doesn't help if it is sitting on the bench with 3 personal fouls.

The Heat are the only NBA team averaging under 80 field goal attempts in a game (78 to be exact). They make life too easy for the opposing team by dribbling away the shoot clock. The Heat team pride prides itself on defensive toughness, yet why are the Heat such softies on offense by taking the least amount of shots in the league?

The Heat feature a player such as Dwyane Wade, who is a master at drawing fouls with his pump fake. Goran Dragic, Gerald Green, Luol Deng and Tyler Johnson actively attack the rim, which invites a personal foul by whomever tries to stop them. Hassan Whiteside, Chris Bosh and Justise Winslow will get fouled when they have the ball in the painted area because they are so strong that fouling is the only way to stop them.

Another weapon the NBA provides the Heat is the penalty situation. Per Wikipedia, "...within any period free throws are awarded starting from the fifth foul OR from the second foul in the last two minutes of the period, whichever comes earlier."

At that time the Heat could bring out a small-ball lineup featuring their best free-throw shooters: Green (83%), Bosh (81%), Johnson (81%), Wade (79%) and Dragic (75%). Their mandate would be to attack the basket on every possession, since even a non-shooting foul would produce a trip to the foul line. 80% FT% beats 40% 3-point attempts every time.

"Adapt or die." The Heat adapting to a forceful offense that makes other teams break a sweat would give the team a more balanced approach to a game.

Neutralizing the other team's three-point shooters, by having them sit on the bench in foul trouble, would give the Heat an overwhelming advantage because of their rebounding strength and shooting an elite 63% FG% in the painted area.