clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Will successes of Pistons, Knicks, Magic and 76ers push the Heat into the lottery for 3rd time in 4 years?

New, comments

Miami Heat were projected to easily make the playoffs this season. May be more challenging than expected.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Detroit Pistons Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

After 10 games a slow 4-6 start may put the Miami Heat in the lottery once again, because of the unexpected winning records for the Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic, and New York Knicks. In the first 10 games the Heat did not look impressive, with only a single double-digit victory among them. In the other nine games Miami failed to maintain sustained efforts during an entire 48 minutes.

Four teams who finished in the lottery last season, the Pistons, Magic, Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, could possibly push the Heat out the playoff picture for the 3rd time in the last 4 years. The 76ers were seen as playoff contenders by most analysts due to the coming of age of the process. The proven track record of Frank Vogel, as a winner for the Indiana Pacers, may repeat itself in Orlando.

Coach Jeff Hornacek made himself unpopular in the player's locker room by replacing Ramon Sessions with veteran Jarrett Jack, and sticking with tight nine-man rotation.

Indeed, Hornacek is making tough decisions. The favorite nine — as it stands — does not include Michael Beasley, a DNP for the first time this season. Beasley figured that without Carmelo Anthony, this was finally his time to shine.

Besides Sessions, Beasley and Willy Hernangomez have to accept their bench roles, whether they like it or not.

Young building block Willy Hernangomez, who tasted his first rotation minutes in the Brooklyn win, was fastened to the pine and left the locker room looking miffed.

Ramon Sessions, the Knicks’ starting point guard for the first three games, all losses, is now on the outs, getting his second straight DNP, and hasn’t cracked a smile in the locker room in days.

Inserting Jack into the starting five, with major minutes, fixed the Knicks’ turnover problem, according to the reporter.

Meanwhile, point guard Jarrett Jack, who turned 34 Saturday, is now the man and has cleaned up the offense as the starting quarterback in the past two games — both victories....Jack’s presence has helped the Knicks reduce turnovers (21 in two games).

Meanwhile in Detroit, coach Stan Van Gundy has abandoned his pet pick-and-role offense in favor of a motion offense centered around leading rebounder Andre Drummond.

Instead of just camping in the paint, Drummond has emerged in a new role in a motion offense, which is one of the biggest reasons the Pistons are off to a 7-3 start, second-best in the Eastern Conference.

The new Pistons don't have shooters standing passively in the corners waiting for a pass.

It’s been an evolution. No longer are the Pistons heavily reliant on their bread-and-butter pick-and-roll action. Rarely is Drummond camped out in the paint with shooters flanked in the corners, waiting for a pass to the perimeter, as he hoists a 15-foot hook shot.

In a copycat league, the Pistons have found success mimicking the style of the Golden State Warriors. Guarding players glued to the floor is easy, while players in motion are difficult to cover. Meanwhile the players enjoy their new freedoms.

In the motion offense, more players are touching the ball, which makes it harder for defenses to guard — and it’s gotten more buy-in and enthusiasm across the board.

“Everybody is more involved,” said forward Tobias Harris, who leads the Pistons in scoring at 19.7 points. “Obviously, I like it.”

What is motion offense? Let Gregg Popovich give a brief illustration



At the beginning Van Gundy admits he resisted stepping outside of his comfort zone.

“I’ve never really played like this as a coach. I’ve been pick-and-roll 90 percent of the time,” Van Gundy said. “It’s a little bit out of my comfort zone. Both my brother and my coaching staff have done a really good job of (settling me down) when I get frustrated and it’s not looking good. We were a week into camp and I didn’t like it.

“The easiest thing for me is to revert back to what I know."