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Miami Heat teammates clear Derrick Jones Jr. and Bam Adebayo for take-off

Rule changes from the 2001-02 may help the Heat unleash the potential of their speedy young players.

Miami Heat v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Miami Heat have quietly won four of their last five games in an unusual fashion by defeating Western Conference teams and losing to a divisional rival.

Part of those recent successes have come from NBA rule changes in 2001-02 because of Michael Jordan’s brilliance during the previous decade.

• Illegal defense guidelines will be eliminated in their entirety.

• A new defensive three-second rule will prohibit a defensive player from remaining in the lane for more than three consecutive seconds without closely guarding an offensive player.

Since that season dominant centers such as Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo weren’t able to set up shop in the paint and block shots like a hockey goalie.

Nowadays Hassan Whiteside can’t rely on the illegal defense rule to prevent weak side defenders from coming over to double and triple team him at the basket.

Even dunking on people has become problematic as teams have gradually learned how to swarm bigs planted in the paint.

Another path to the rim emerged due to 3-second rule which relies on a player’s quickness and agility, rather than sheer size alone, for scores at the rim.

Derrick Jones Jr. showed how once the paint was cleared of rim protectors planted at the basket, he was cleared for take off.


Justise Winslow prepared the runway for this Bam Adebayo emphatic score at the basket.

Since the Heat don’t have talents such as LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, or Kawhi Leonard on their team, careful preparation and team effort are the team’s calling cards to put points on the board in the paint.

The current infatuation with small-ball lineups works in Miami’s favor when teammates sweep the runways clean of shot-blockers for lighting strikes at the basket by the young guns.