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Heat's Sioux Falls Skyforce enjoying 7-game win streak using different approach

What are the key differences between the Heat and their D-League affiliate team?

Compared to the Miami Heat's recent woes, their D-League affiliate team, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, won its seventh game in a row by double digits.

The significance lies in the fact the team is coached by Dan Craig, who uses the same playbook that he taught in Miami. If there is ever a comparison between coaching results using the exact same system, this would be it.

Some of the differences in the stats between the teams give a clue to what is going on. Here I use top 4 rankings (+1 = best) versus bottom 4 (-1 = worst).

METRIC SKYFORCE HEAT
FGA -2 -1
FG% +2 +4
Steals +2 -3
Blocks -8 +1
Blocks Against +2 +5
PF +2 +4
PTS +8 -2
DefRtg +1 +2
NetRtg +1 +7
OREB% +3 -7
REB% +2 +11
TO Ratio -3 -13
eFG% +3 +13
PTS Off TO +2 -7
FastBreakPts +4 -12
Opp FBPs -2 +1
Opp PITP +2 +10
%PTS PITP +2 +3
Less5ft FG% +1 +2

Both teams practice slow-pace (low FGA), efficient offensive ( high FG%) and top-notch defensive games ( good DefRtg). Both stay true to their defensive-minded identity.

The Heat score the second fewest points per game in the NBA, while the Skyforce score eighth most in the D-league (average) by virtue of being second best in points off turnovers and finishing at 70% efficiency (first place) within 5 feet of the basket. The Skyforce finish excellently and do not miss easy shots at the rim.

The biggest difference lies in their fast-break (FB) philosophies. The Heat allow the fewest FB points, while the Skyforce allow the second-most PB points.

Some of FB opportunities comes from the Skyforce being #2 in steals per game, while the Heat are third worst in steals per games. That is area where Mario Chalmers' absence is felt. The Skyforce clog the passing lanes of their opponents making life miserable for them to get a decent pass.

Miami Heat's opponents find open shooters with ease as shown by how few steals they average during a game.

One observation on those figures is the Heat are an older and slower team than their D-League affiliate. Both Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are five years older than when they first joined forces (Bosh was only 26 then and pre-blood clot).

Second, being the second-worst team in allowing FB points hasn't hurt Sioux Falls, while topping the NBA in stopping FBs may be a hollow victory. Rather than abandon the offensive boards, the Skyforce fight for offensive rebounds resulting in a more robust offense with second-choice points.

The Heat are not going to turn the clock back and become a young fast break team, nor would that style suit some of their personnel. Before any trade is made, disrupting the chemistry the team built up over the summer needs to be considered. Any new player may not immediately fit in.

Of note, the Skyforce have not lost a single game since Jarnell Stokes (acquired with Beno Udrih in the Mario Chalmers trade with the Memphis Grizzlies) joined them. He has a defRtg of over a 100, yet winning seems to follow him. Call it the Robert Horry effect.