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Miami Heat’s winning plays during their unprecedented turnaround

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The team’s current in-season comeback could set the standard for the NBA.

NBA: Orlando Magic at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Previously the largest mid-season turnaround in the NBA was the 41% about-face of the 2004-05 Denver Nuggets. So far the Miami Heat dwarf that with a 55% difference: 27% first half winning percentage versus the 82% one in the second half so far. Miami would have to win 11 of their last 14 games to keep up that pace and finish with a record of 44-38.

WINNING PLAYS

Using baskets off of screens to space the floor

Miami Heat lead the NBA in FG% on scoring from screens at 48%, even though they utilize it far less often, 19th in the NBA, than the Golden State Warriors, 240 FGA versus their 772. Couper Moorhead labels this action as “floppy offense.”

“In today’s pick-and-roll league, floppy offense – the art of running one or two players off multiple screens to free them for jumpers – always seems to be simultaneously going away and coming back.”

In this video two Pelican defenders watch Wayne Ellington, which allows Hassan Whiteside an easy dunk. Ellington’s value in spacing the floor goes beyond how many 3-point attempts he convents. Drawing people away from the paint doesn’t show up in the stat sheet.

Again Wayne frees up space for his team mates.

Off-the-ball defense

Nobody gets the better of James Johnson. Even DeMarcus Cousins would not dare to pick a fight with JJ. In the lightweight class, Rodney McGruder brings the same tough attitude to the floor.

Pump-fakes to keep perimeter offenses honest

When defenders get too aggressive guarding the 3-point line, Goran Dragic has learned how to teach opponents a lesson on the penalties for contesting long-range field goal attempts. After couple of 3-point fouls, defenders give the shooter a little more space to make a basket. If the pump-fake is good enough for Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant, it’s good enough for the Heat players.

Super alert and great hands to deal with crisp passes.

Catching and converting passes in tight quarters isn’t easy. Miami players have been very alert to handle quick passes without fumbling them. Players need to be ready under all conditions for unexpected assists from Dion Waiters, Dragic, JJ and TJ. No sleeping on the job when the ball-handler suddenly rifles the ball to his team mate for an open look.

Notice at the 0:47 mark how Josh Richardson was more aggressive going to the rim and putting back his own miss. His timidness was noticeable coming back after his numerous injuries. Keeping the attack mentality he displayed last game may bring him back to Richardson we all loved last season.