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How the Miami Heat can win 50 games this season

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When Miami replaced a two-time DPOY with a two-time scoring leader, they won a championship

Miami Heat celebration
Whiteside, Winslow, Johnson

In the years Alonzo Mourning was a dominant force in Miami and won the Defensive Player of the Year, the Heat did not reach the NBA Finals. After they acquired Shaquille O’Neal, the Heat won their first ring in 2006.

During his tenure with the team, Mourning lead the NBA in blocks twice, while during the 2006 championship season O’Neal lead the league in FG%. Oddly enough he played only 59 games, averaging 9 rebounds and 2 blocks. In most games he focused on draining the other team’s energy by trying to stop him in the paint, rather than spending his energy attempting to stop five men all by himself.

A possible blueprint for the Heat this season could be the game last November versus the Rockets when the Heat went from a 21 point deficit to a 20 point win in the second half, after a fiery speech by Udonis Haslem.

In that game Hassan Whiteside lead the way by scoring 25 points, plus snaring 14 rebounds. The top +/- players were Mario Chalmers +27, Tyler Johnson +25, Justise Winslow +24, Whiteside +20 and Dwyane Wade +15. Surprisingly Chalmers had a +27 while scoring only 3 points, so winning can result from making others play better. The video above showed Bosh can play a transition game when needed.

An improbable lineup of a big man, such as Whiteside, surrounded by four disruptive position-less pieces, i.e. Chalmers, Johnson, Winslow and Wade gave the best results. A BBallBreakdown analysis highlights what T. Johnson brings to the game.

With Wade and Chalmers gone, who remains to wreck havoc against the other team? Possibilities are Josh Richardson, Dion Waiters, Rodney McGruder, Briante Weber, along with the Heat’s athletic forwards. McGruder fits a Chalmers role with his under-appreciated talents of timely baskets and forcing turnovers.

The Miami Heat don’t have to win 82, 73, or 60 games to earn a playoff berth. Winning 12 games more than the ESPN projected 38 wins would put them into the playoffs with 50 victories for the season.

Houston didn’t have Dwight Howard for that game, and Miami took advantage of his absence. The Heat can lose 32 games, yet by winning games when the situation arises for favorable match-ups, they can win the other 50.

The Houston game featured 25 points from the Heat’s center and lock-down defense from the other four players. The Heat didn’t win any championships with a DPOY on the team. Perhaps following the model of a dominating scoring machine in the paint, plus a disruptive team effort on defense could be the road map for 50-win season.