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Numbers show Miami Heat second-half improvements in post-LeBron years

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Strangely in the last three years the Miami Heat have improved during the last 41 games of the regular season.

NBA: Washington Wizards at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

If numbers are any indication, the Miami Heat should skip their first 41 games of the season and count only the second half results. For each of the last three seasons they have shown progressive gains in the last 41 games, using figures from advanced statistics.

Final 41 Games of Season

YEAR 2015 2016 2017
YEAR 2015 2016 2017
GAMES 41 41 41
WON 19 25 30
LOST 22 16 11
MIN 1978 1983 1973
OFFRTG 100.6 106.2 109.7
DEFRTG 102.4 103.4 103.3
NETRTG -1.8 2.8 6.4
AST% 54.0 53.7 52.6
AST/TO 1.3 1.5 1.6
AST% 15.7 16.6 16.3
OREB% 24.5 25.8 24.9
DREB% 73.3 78.3 76.5
REB% 49.5 52.8 50.8
TOV% 15.7 14.4 13.9
EFG% 49.1 51.3 53.6
TS% 53.1 55.0 56.6
PACE 94.8 97.0 98.1
PIE 49.5 52.9 52.9

Oddly the Heat have improved incrementally each of the last three seasons after LeBron James skipped town and went home, yet only during the last 41 games. Now if those gains could carry over into the entire 2017-18 season, Miami would become a contender.

Some facts stand out. The team increased its offense rating from 101 to 110 over that period of time, while keeping the defense rating in check at 103.

Their turnover rate has gone down from 15.7% to 13.9%, indicating they’re less sloppy in handling the ball during games.

The EFG% has improved from 49.1% to 53.6%. That could be due to attempting more 3-point baskets or better shot selection, or both of those reasons.

Lastly the pace has gone from 94.8 to 98.1 over the final 41 games in the last 3 years. The play types in the game plans have shifted to better fit the players on the team.

The statistics could be affected by the life-threatening medical issues surrounding Chris Bosh. He was suddenly out after All-Star break 2 and 3 seasons ago, which took time for the team to adjust. Last season the unexpected loss of his contributions for the entire campaign, just before training camp, caused last-minute shuffling at the start of the season.

The question remains on what to do with the first 41 games of the season? Bringing back the band could be the answer to that question. Solving the second-half riddle could bring Heat fans a fun season.