Let’s be clear about this from the start: the Miami Heat don’t have the talent level close to the Golden State Warriors. In fact, nobody in the NBA does. Of course with Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and company, pretty much any game plan succeeds for them
At look at their shot selection reveals a preference for plays using constant movement, e.g. transition, screens, cuts. With Curry, et al, available as elite marksmen, their spot-up play remains the primary option, though all their top four plays feature a PPP (Points Per Possession) of greater than one.
The video below shows the Warriors rely on moving the basketball up the court for high-percentage conversions far more than fans realize.
Another video shows their great spacing and recognition by the ball handler, leading to an insane 70% FG% on cuts. In addition that leads to a PPP of 1.33 because of and-one bonus points on shooting fouls.
The only types of field goal attempts that Miami tried over 1,000 times last season, both had a PPP of less than 1.0.
Miami Heat Playtypes
The Heat in the second half of last season had success in converting spot-up 3-point shots After that play, the combination of Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside naturally leads to the pick and roll as their other main choice, even though the ball handler converted at an inefficient rate of 42% eFG% and PPP of 0.81.
Miami’s transition and cut plays last season converted much better at 1.13 PPP and 1.18 PPP, respectively, though the Heat used them far fewer times than the Warriors: a total of 930 less FGAs, or on average, 11 per game. One of the reasons comes from the fact that the Warriors lead the league in converting their attempts within 5 feet of the rim (66%).
The Heat percentage isn’t terrible at 61%, but certain players struggle to finish their bunny baskets. The addition of Kelly Olynyk should help, as well as giving Wayne Ellington, with his 82% FG% figure, far more opportunities to score at close range.
Less than 5 feet
This season the addition of mobile big men, such as Bam Adebayo and Olynyk, gives Miami the personnel to run the floor, and reduce their over-dependence on the inefficient pick & role set. None of the Warriors’ four most-used plays (all with a PPP greater than one) included the pick & role. Matter of fact it was their fifth option during a game.
Golden State deliberately focuses on converting possessions into one point or better. For the Heat to use the high PPP plays, like transitions and cuts, successfully, the players need to up their efficiency in converting easy opportunities at the rim. Part of that could come from what’s happening in Europe.
The success of Goran Dragic in mentoring Slovenia’s teenage sensation Luka Doncic, may translate to an increased role in helping Adebayo and other Heat young ones achieve stardom. Goran’s experience this summer provides him lessons in leadership and motivation. Miami’s back court duo learning from the success of the Warriors’ play types, may take Miami further than forecasters predicted this season.